State Bond Commission Approves $21.6 Million For 777 Main Apartments

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The State Bond Commission today approved $21.6 million in funding for the development of 777 Main Street in downtown Hartford into mixed-income apartments.

Developer Bruce Becker envisions redeveloping the 26-story, former Bank of America building — opposite the Old State House — into studio, one- and two bedroom apartment units with retail space at street-level.

The funding is supplied by both the Capital Region Development Authority and the Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as a $3.9 million bond allocation.  From the State Bond Commission agenda:

Capital Region Development Authority funding consists of a $10,200,000 loan for 40 years at 0.5% interest with payments deferred until maturity combined with a $7,500,000 grant. Department of Economic and Community Development funding consists of a $3,907,234 loan for 40 years at 0.5% interest with payments deferred until maturity.

Funds are requested as follows:
Total Estimated Project Cost $78,099,105
Less: CT Housing Tax Credits 4,500,000
Federal Funds 37,614,245
Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits 14,377,626
State Loan, This Request $21,607,234

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33 thoughts on “State Bond Commission Approves $21.6 Million For 777 Main Apartments

  1. pete

    You mean DANNY BOY approved another taxpayer giveaway to another FAT CAT. He AND THE ‘RATS steal money from the middle class to give it to greedy PIG developers. Let the PIGS spend their own money. Remember the bond commission is a rubber stamp for whoever is GOV. The are all CORRUPT

  2. Downtowner

    Who in their right mind believes that this building will include “street-level retail”? Walk around downtown. The retail is all gone, thanks to the highest property taxes in the most heavily state in America.

    Take a look at the empty storefronts at Hartford 21, or on Front Street, or even on Asylum or Main Streets, and you tell me: do you think this building will ever include any street-level retail? No way.

    1. mike

      read before you write anything buddy.

      The retail component of this project is a second phase to be financed seperately by the developer. It will be 35,000 SF and will as a requirement from this approved bonding be required to lease space at reduced rates. this reduced rate will allow business to get started under a protected environment. Also, they are to give priority to a grocer if possible.

      Since this building adds 286 apartments, it stands to reason, the 350 or so residents of this building will go a LONG way towards enticing some ground floor tenents.

      So absolutely, I know this building will include ground floor retail.

  3. pete

    I have to laugh at anyone who thinks there will be ground level retail. Didn’t Hartford 21 have a grocery store at a reduced rent and what happened. It couldn’t cut it.

    1. Patrick

      Actually, Hartford 21 had a small gourmet market, was about the size of two Starbucks and had barely any basic necessities. They had SOME basic necessities but were outrageously overpriced that there was no way any regular person would buy, for example a $6 luxury brand jar of tomato sauce when Stop & Shop sells it for like $3.50. It was a great idea but doomed from the start due to it’s size. In the future when you have more apartments and therefore people living downtown you may find a formula like that successful but there isn’t the density of people yet living downtown to support it.

  4. Evan - Hartford

    I have to agree with Pete on this although there is no need for him to be so inflammatory. The bottom line is that retail / grocers will not move downtown unless they believe they can make money. Hartford is practically a ghost town on most nights and weekends, save for XL Center events.

    Part of this is the excessive parking fees. Part of it is the relatively high taxes with low benefits and bad education compared to the surroudning nicer towns (Glastonbury, West Hartford, South Windsor etc).

    If you want people to live in the city, you have to “entice” them with low prices. Taxes need to be lowered to a point where people feel they can save money by living here as opposed to the nicer surroudning towns. Until that point, people will treat Hartford as a commuter city and the folks who live here will do so temporarily.

    1. mike

      well a better written reply for sure, but think of it this way. there IS a proven demand for housing downtown, so enter the developer etc…
      If you are building this building and there is very little demand for retail, what do you do with the ground floor?

      you dont build it in a way that discourages retail traffic, you build it so that maybe someday you will have stores leasing from you. Heck it is the tenents of this building that will help drive demand for retail.

      so ground floor retail makes sense no matter what the current market says, you have to include it otherwise you are hurting your own development.

      and BTW, while Hartford 21 has some retail issues, they also have some tenents. So TD Bank, First Niagara Bank and Spiritus are income that would not be abailable if they built concrete walls instead.

    1. mike

      dangerous? not sure how. they are moderate income as in for working people who make less that the average CT wage. likely waiters and bartenders and such. usually this number is around $35K

      1. lalaland

        I don’t particularly care either way, but I’m not sure I understand the preoccupation with offering subsidized housing. It’s not like living in the BOA building is some kind of inalienable right that should be available to all. As with other things in life, If you can’t afford the market rate, you can’t afford it.

        If anything, if it weren’t for the federal incentives (which goes back to my first paragraph on how I’m not sure why we incentivize this), Hartford would be able to collect more tax if “wealthier” people occupied the housing (car tax, sales tax), and they could turn that extra money around to provide important services to the low income people. Giving low income people housing in desirable locations does not qualify as an important service.

        I’m not sure about your comment on “moderate income” but I see that part of the funding is “Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits 14,377,626″ so it seems kinda like low income to me.

        I sometimes mention this project to my coworkers and without exception, every one of them said they would not consider moving in because they don’t want to share a building with potentially problem people especially if they are to pay a premium for living in downtown (as the rent is expensive downtown).

  5. Thank God for a Voice of Reason

    1) People here think paying ANYTHING to park is excessive because they hate cities and thus never travel to a place where they have to pay to park. Sad to say for the CT suburban simpleton, there is god given right to free parking.

    2) CAN WE HAVE 1 GOOD NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT HARTFORD NOT THEN POLLUTED BY WHITE TRASH RIGHT WING COMMENTS WHINING ABOUT THE CITY. The state is already one big strip mall, you have what you want already, stop WHINING…

    1. Evan - Hartford

      I’m all about freedom. People can charge whatever they want to charge to park in Hartford. The problem is that the surrounding towns (Glastonbury, West Hartford, Manchester, Windsor etc) have better restaurants, safer neighborhoods, better entertainment (save for XL Center events), better retail and cheaper/free parking.

      Whining is irrelevant. Hartford’s high parking cost is pricing itself and its businesses out of the market.

      1. mike

        it costs more to park in Blue back or in Glastonbury by plan B than is most of downtown. especially on weekends when parking is free on the street.

        1. Patrick

          Don’t forget parking is also free M-F after 6:00pm. I don’t know about Glastonbury but West Hartford is only free on Sunday. Mon-Sat all day, you have to pay.

    2. OMG

      This white trash right wing guy is tired of paying out the … for everybody and everything. In addition to paying for it all i can’t even complain about it anymore. Or as you say “I’m Whining” if I dare do it.

  6. Robert

    Aside from the classless Right Wing white trash comment from the so called “Voice of Reason” I believe he/she is correct that there are simply individuals who spin every positive news piece about the city into either a corruption scandal or a waste of time. News flash, this is exactly why Hartford has become the way it is. The restaurant/retail base has had no support from suburbanites who just crap on the city and steer young professionals away from settling downtown. I lived in Philly for 2 years and experienced the same attitude from locals, only on a bigger scale..

    1. Evan - Hartford

      Robert,

      I wouldn’t call this a “positive” news piece. The reason that the building is being turned into an apartment through government intervention is because no company wants to buy it and/or develop it. The same holds true for buidlings all over downtown Hartford where vacancy is at historic highs and foreclosures have become all too common.

      The state is literally moving its own workers and universities here to fill the void. As I said before, you can’t simply “dress up a city” and expect people to move in. People need incentives to move here. Jobs, low taxes/costs and good education are probably the biggest incentives you can offer. You could argue that Hartford offers none of those compared to the surrounding towns.

      1. Robert

        Very true..taxes need to be cut and spending needs to be focused on areas other than section 8 housing and welfare programs. Unfortunately though with the current administration we have running the show that is obviously not a priority. Hartford will never be the insurance capital it once was but we might as well work with what we’re given. A municipal filled building is better than a vacant one..

      2. J A

        Holding the mill rate in line is one of the priorities of the current administration, and they have succeeded so far. At the same time, they are equalizing the tax burden between residential and commercial property owners.

        Importantly, they are going beyond tax reform, and taking important strides toward building residential density downtown (most of it luxury or market-rate, some of it geared toward working professionals, and none of it Section 8). As Jane Jacobs elegantly observed, cities flourish from a mix of uses, and right now the residential component can and should be augmented to come into balance with office space (Downtown Hartford’s 6+ million square feet of occupied office space remains the largest cluster in the metro area). Reaching something closer to parity between office, residential (and now, educational) space will create a more evenly distributed flow of retail customers, boosting the efficiency and profitability of storefront tenants. People who actually work downtown have seen how much retail activity office workers already support (the line at the Starbucks in CityPlace is around the corner and up the stairs many mornings), and balancing it with more residential space (for which there is demand: Hartford 21′s apartments are 98% occupied) will enable continued vibrancy well into the evening hours. For that reason, it is exciting to see plans for new apartment and UConn buildings.

  7. Rising Star

    You could all argue that keeping things status quo will improve the city. News Flash! It won’t. Based on time, movement, growth and deterioration – things change. Because there is a move and attempt to POSITIVELY change the infrastructure, culture and economic outlook for the city isn’t a cue for “can’t do” “won’t happen” “it’ll fail” crowd to start up – though that’s what always happens.

    Fortunately (or not) most of those opinions and hopes will be steamrolled and the City and State will rebound. Either get busy living with all its ups and downs or get busy dying for lack of trying.

    To all those with a negative p.o.v. – my question to you all is “if we do nothing, what will that accomplish?”

    1. Evan - Hartford

      Rising Star,

      I wouldn’t suggest doing nothing. I think the city needs to reinvent itself. It needs to drastically cut expenses. That means it needs to cut city jobs, freeze some of its legacy retiree benefits, cut its section 8 subsidies. Given enough cuts, it will be able to lower taxes and make the city a more attractive place to do business. Rent costs would come down and you could see more young professionals moving in.

      I wouldn’t be opposed to them changing the highway configuration at some point, but the costs of that kind of project would be too high given the city’s current economic circumstances.

      1. mike

        problem is that section 8 is federal program.

        you want to cut expenses, that means cutting services.

        what services does Hartford offer? Honestly not too many, but those services are the ones you dont want Avon paying for. Homeless shelters is one example.

        unfortunately, the burden of the city circa 2013 is to house all of the undesireable services so the suburbs dont have to.

        Back to taxes and cutting spending. the budget in Hartford s something like 60% schools!
        yes the schools are the worst in the region, but thats not for a lack of trying. even with those high numbers, the per capita spending per student is much lower than the towns with good schools. Hartford simply lost the tax base when white flight happened and values dropped in Asylum hill and the South End.

        legacy retiree benefits are an issue in all of CT but they are also protected by law. It a tough thing to tellsomeone their retirement is bein cut after they retire. its saying hey, BTW you worked for us for 30 years, and all that stuff we promised you for chasing drug dealers and getting shot at… well it was a lie.”
        that sounds downright un-American.
        the city and state need to change benefits for current and future workers so the there is a survivable balance at some point.

        the other place where your logic is competely flawed is the low rent thing. there is a huge demand for downtown housing. despite your concerns, people do want to love downtown, and granted these people dont likely have kids, but they want to live here and pay market rates. no cuts in city budgets will EVER show up in cheaper rents… thats absurd.

        what will “save” hartford are projects like this and Uconn because they will eventually increase the tax rolls of the city because the overal property values will rise. Also the retail generated by additional residents will also increase tax rolls.

        so, lets just be happy people want to live downtown NOW, because their vision will make Hartford very desireable in the future and in the future you wont have to worry about where your money is going.

  8. Rob

    Everyone has valid points. You can do many things in unison to improve the city. DEFINITELY need to cut administrative expenses meaningfully, but the state can also consolidate space, bring people downtown, reduce office vacancy rates, help local merchants, and invest in housing. These initiatives make meaningful long-term impropvements in the city. Of course the buildings need subsidies today to make private investment work.

    1. Patrick

      Exactly. Hell, even in NYC (where there is huge demand for apartments) when an apartment building is built the builder is getting some subsidies. It’s a way for the builder to lessen the initial financial risk and save themselves money. Why wouldn’t they do that.

      1. R Lee

        You are right!
        Why shouldn’t they do it if they can?
        BUT why don’t you try and go down to State Capitol and ask for a grant to develop some property in Hartford, New Haven or anywhere else and you will be thrown out on your left ear. You are honest with a good plan but no kickbacks, no influence, no political contributions-and then – no money.

  9. R Lee

    If this is such a great idea why is the State GIVING THEM ALL THE MONEY FOR FREE?????????
    I am leaving the State because of this insane giveaway but the main reason was the New Britain Busway.
    It is so sickening to read about the constant stream of grants (free money) to anybody with a political connection.
    State puts up all the money-developer makes all the money- State gets screwed- State is YOU.

  10. Glastonbury Resident

    Hey, the way I see it is a bit more pragmatic.

    1. Yes, the muni and fed govy is wasteful, and chock full of lazy folks who can’t add 2+2, but can calculate their pension formula out to 5 decimal places in their heads.

    2. My view is you either give this cohort some meaningless job in government, and a cheap apartment, or else, these people would be on the dole 4ever. Honestly, I don’t know which is more parasitic to society, but I just don’t sit around thinking about it.

    3. I’m a religious person and have compassion for all people. However, I have to be honest, I just have nothing in common with poor people. I don’t get the immediate gratification needs, the petty thoughts, the kinda ugly Irish white trash chick hooking up with a black/PR dude and creating offspring that look so weird (like a freaky alien). Also, the bigger thing with most poor people is they do not understand reciprocity — it’s all about them, their plight, what the rich can do for them, what society owes them. That, folks, is generally why rich folks despise poor people. You would love to have the image of the poor, helpless, struggling person with no money…unfortunately, these people have a tendency to be assholes.

    Rich Person (I actually am)

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