Infinity Music Hall & Bistro’s space at downtown Hartford’s Front Street looked nothing like an entertainment venue this week: backhoes and payloaders were carving out a space where concert-goers will eventually sit.
But Dan Hincks, Infinity Hall’s founder, is thinking way beyond the construction equipment, and is giving a first look at renderings for what could become the nucleus of the Front Street entertainment district.
Hincks told me the intent is to create a warm, inviting atmosphere with plenty of wood, for which Infinity Hall’s first location in Norfolk is known. But he said don’t expect an exact copy, either.
“It would be a mistake to try to recreate an 1883 building in a brand new structure,” Hincks said.
Those attending The Big Mo’ tonight — the annual fundraising event that supports Riverfront Recapture — got a sneak peek at the renderings for the $5.2 million project, which includes $1.3 million in state funding. The Big Mo’ (Mo is for momentum) was held in the space that will eventually house Infinity Hall.
Hincks said he is targeting a late spring opening. Until there is a firm opening date, the first act can’t be booked, he said.
The renderings show spaces generously trimmed in wood, including the ceiling. Hincks said the wood will most likely be a fir, and is also likely to be used for the floor, though that still has to be decided.
Infinity Hall is known for its top-notch acoustics, and the wood is a critical component, buffering sound just enough.
“The idea is to get the perfect mix of absorption and reflection,” Hincks told me.
The designs contain architectural elements, such as in the bar and restaurant area, with clean, modern lines, a nod to the urban setting for the new venue. But Hincks stresses he is striving for a “comfortable, relaxed” atmosphere that has been achieved in Norfolk.
The stage will have Infinity Hall’s signature, “starlight” curtain used to create special effects during performances in Norfolk.
The orchestra will accommodate about 400 with traditional seating, but more for tables and chairs, Hincks said. The space, which will be leased for private parties and other events, can be used without any seating, he said.
An upper mezzanine level will add another 95 seats with counter and table seating, Hincks said.
Infinity Hall will join a movie theater and upscale steakhouse that are already open. In addition, two other restaurants also are planned.
The market for such a venue like Infinity Hall in Hartford is untested, but Hincks said he expects the Hartford location will draw from all age categories. The demographics of central Connecticut, however, are skewed to the younger end of the spectrum, unlike the market for Infinity Hall’s Norfolk location.
Hincks said he hopes to tap into a market that doesn’t regularly make the drive to Norfolk. The market includes Springfield and New Haven, as well as communities in the immediate Hartford area, such as Vernon, Manchester and West Hartford.
“The artists will be for all ages, even kids,” Hincks said.