Category Archives: Hartford Redevelopment

City Still Pushing For Supermarket In Downtown Hartford

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Downtown North, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

The city of Hartford says it remains committed to securing a supermarket for the downtown area, after a plan for a grocery store collapsed this week because a minor league ballpark may be built nearby.

“We all want to see the market,” Thomas E. Deller, the city’s director of development services, told leaders of the city’s neighborhood revitalization zones Thursday night. “It’s important for us to get a supermarket downtown and, if possible, in Downtown North. We would really like that to happen.”

After nearly two years of work, the Hartford Community Loan Fund this week pulled the plug on its plans for a full-service supermarket that would have been part of a larger, mixed-use development at 1212 Main St., sometimes referred to as “12B.”

Both the ballpark and the supermarket targeted Downtown North, or “DoNo,” a barren, redevelopment area just north of downtown Hartford.

The loan fund, a community revitalization organization, had strong interest from the operator of a ShopRite for the site. The operator, Paul Tornaquindici, did not believe the ballpark, proposed next door, at 1214 Main St., would be compatible with the store, Fowler said.

Deller told the NRZ leaders at their monthly meeting Thursday that there were still many unanswered questions about the loan fund’s plan.

“The proposal for 12B, 1212 Main St., [is] one that has been out there a while,” Deller said. “There hadn’t been a clear developer for the site. There hadn’t been a clear proposal for the site and clear economics to show the operator could actually rent the site and operate a market there.”

On Friday, Rex Fowler, the loan fund’s executive director, defended the loan fund’s work on the project, saying it did not come to the table unprepared.

Fowler said the loan fund:

      • Completed a detailed market study confirming the economic viability of such a full-service supermarket for the Downtown North redevelopment area
      • Identified an experienced market operator with a strong commitment to serving all members of the Hartford community.
      • Identified of a highly qualified, experienced community developer with strong access to capital, experience with similar projects across the country, and interest in a role in implementation of the Downtown North Master Plan as completed by the City in December, 2013.
      • Identified local and national sources of financing for the project.

“HCLF is proud of the work that our staff and our partners have contributed to this project,” Fowler said.

The supermarket, as envisioned by the loan fund, would have served both downtown and the city’s North End neighborhoods. Downtown North was an ideal location because it was in the middle of a “food desert” with few options for purchasing groceries.

Deller said he believes a ballpark and a supermarket can thrive side-by-side. He cited calls from developers since the announcement of the ballpark proposal two weeks ago, some saying the area would work well for a supermarket.

Deller also said a supermarket opened near the Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., next where housing is being built. Housing also is a major, planned component for Downtown North.

“The reason why I bring this up is to show that they are not mutually exclusive,” Deller said. “They can work together. They can operate together.”

Fowler said he believes Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and city council members are committed to taking steps to ease the food desert that affects a quarter of city residents and, to improve access to healthy and affordable foods.

“We continue to be eager to assist our City leaders in their efforts toward this objective in any way possible,” Fowler said.

 

 

 

 

 

Partners May Redevelop Rundown Hartford Housing Complex

by Categorized: Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Hartford’s housing authority has selected a Connecticut-based partnership as the preferred developer of the rundown Chester Bowles Park public housing complex in the city’s North End.

Overlook Village Redevelopment Associates LP would redevelop the 59-building, 410-unit complex on 61 acres off Albany Avenue for housing, if final negotiations with the authority are successful.

The partnership includes The Richman Group Development Corp., JHM Financial Group, LLC, Imagineers LLC and Nutmeg Planners LLC.

Bowles Park is part of a larger, 130 acres that includes another public housing complex, Westbrook Village. Last summer, the authority sought redevelopment proposals that would have covered both complexes, but it was disappointed that only five proposals were submitted.

Earlier this year, the authority chose to split the project in half, first concentrating on Bowles Park.

Bowles Park, the authority has said, could be an extension of the Blue Hills residential neighborhood, while Westbrook Village, bordering on Albany Avenue, a main thoroughfare, could be mixed-used with housing and retail.

“We believe this development team brings forth a proven track record of developing complex urban projects, Annette Sanderson, the housing authority’s executive director, said, in a release. “Furthermore, the development team has demonstrated its ability to engage with the overall community during the development process.”

Sanderson could not immediately be reached for further comment Tuesday.

For years, the redevelopment of the two complexes has been a goal of the housing authority.

Both contain brick, two-story apartment buildings, most with four units. The complexes date from the 1950s and were among the few state-financing housing projects in the city. They were originally built for moderate-income tenants.

Only about 250 of the 770 apartments, or 30 percent, are now occupied.

Development Eludes Small Patch Of Hartford Parking Known as ’12B’

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

The small patch of urban surface parking in downtown Hartford at the corner of Main and Morgan streets — known as 12B — once again caught headlines, this time as a site considered for a proposed $60 million ballpark for the New Britain Rock Cats.

The city ultimately chose a neighboring site, adding another project to a list of proposals for 12B that never became reality.

But where exactly is 12B? I asked three different people after a press conference on the stadium, and I got three different answers.

So I went to City Clerk John Bazzano, and he pulled out the maps for me. The parcel, he noted, is the parking lot that backs up the Radisson Hotel, formerly the Crowne Plaza.

Here is the map:

The parcel outlined in yellow is the proposed minor league baseball stadium. The parcel just to the south across Trumbull Street is 12B. Map courtesy of the City of Hartford.

The parcel outlined in yellow is the proposed minor league baseball stadium. The parcel just to the south across Trumbull Street is 12B. Map courtesy of the City of Hartford.

The 12B parcel was once described as the Charlie Brown of Hartford development sites. In the past 15 years, there have been a half-dozen proposals, none of them becoming reality:

  • 2004: WFSB, Channel 3 abandons plans to build a broadcast studio on the site, saying it is too small to accommodate the stations needs. WFSB eventually moves out of Constitution Plaza and out of Hartford, relocating to Rocky Hill.
  • 2000: Mayor Michael P. peters considers the site for a $20 million minor league baseball stadium.
  • 1998: City council studies site for a new city hall.
  • 1997: Officials consider site for new convention center and $374 million stadium for the New England Patriots. Site loses out to 30-acre Adriaen’s Landing near riverfront. Convention Center built but Patriots do not leave Massachusetts.
  • 1995: With the Hartford Civic Center, now XL Center, aging, 12B is considered for a 40,000-seat domed arena to become new home of UConn men’s basketball, the Hartford Whalers and others.
  • 1993: Businessman Francis W. Murray and the state fail to lure the Patriots to 12B, the chosen site for a 70,000-seat, $252 million open-air stadium.

 

The downtown Hartford parcel known as 12B. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

The downtown Hartford parcel known as 12B from across Morgan Street. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Stylish Redo At Hartford Residence Inn, But What Style Is It?

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

A $3-million plus renovation of The Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Hartford’s Richardson Building includes a makeover of the lobby and suites in cool grays, vibrant turquoise and pops of orange.

Geometric shapes abound and some of the furniture looks to be a twist on mid-century modern.

But what is the style of the redo?

The lobby of the renovated Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The lobby of the renovated Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Hotel employees, at a reception Wednesday night marking the renovations, took a stab: contemporary, but, no, that sounds, too drab; maybe, Marriott Modern because the hospitality company mandates the colors but leaves furniture and other choices to each hotel.

Finally, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, a speaker at the festivities, finally observed: “It’s a cross between South Beach and L.A.”

No matter the style, the renovations are the second makeover since the upper-floors of the historic brownstone Richardson Building on Main Street were converted from apartments to 120 extended-stay suites in the late 1990s at a cost of $13.5 million. The Residence Inn opened in 2000.

“I didn’t think what we had previously was dated or shabby, but now that it is done, it is so dramatic,”  Marc S. Levine, one of the owners, told me.

Director of Sales Lisa McIntyre in one of the renovated suites. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

Director of Sales Lisa McIntyre in one of the renovated suites. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

Levine said Marriott requires renovations every six years for hotels bearing its flag, or the property risks losing the right to use the Marriott name.

Len Wolman, chairman and chief executive of The Waterford Group, said the Residence Inn typically has an occupancy around 75 percent, higher than most city hotels. He notes that 40 percent of guests are “extended stay,” meaning five days or longer.

Waterford has an ownership stake in the hotel and also manages it.

The renovations inside stand in sharp contrast to the 138-year old Romanesque Revival stone facade of the exterior. The style is influenced by medieval European architecture, mostly of the 10th and 11th centuries, and is characterized by heavy-walled masonry construction, often of roughly cut stone.

Henry Hobson Richardson, a well-known 19th-century architect, designed the building at 942 Main St.  The facade features three layers of arches that grow smaller and more numerous with each horizontal level.

The exterior of the historic Richardson Building in downtown Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

The exterior of the historic Richardson Building in downtown Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

When department stores dominated this area of Main Street, the building was home to Brown, Thomson & Co. Today, City Steam has been a longtime, street-level tenant and Hartford Stage uses a portion of the building for rehearsal space.

All the suites have new granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, accent walls and new furnishings. Mid-week rates range from $279 to $299 a night, but decline with longer stays, Lisa McIntyre, director of sales, told me.

“With all the things happening in Hartford, we should be getting a refresh, too,” Levine told me.

 

 

Developer Acquires Hartford’s Capewell Factory For Apartment Project

by Categorized: Hartford Redevelopment Date:

A previous version of this post incorrectly reported CIL purchased Hartford Square North.

With financing now lined up, the developer planning a $26 million conversion of the old Capewell Horse Nail Co. factory into apartments said it has acquired the property in Hartford’s Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood.

The Corporation for Independent Living, a non-profit housing group, took title to the decaying factory building late Tuesday, CIL’s president and chief executive Martin M. Legault told me this afternoon.

Abandoned Capewell Horse Nail Factory Co. slated for apartment conversion. Photo by Rick Hartford/rhartford@courant.com

Abandoned Capewell Horse Nail Factory Co. slated for apartment conversion. Photo by Rick Hartford/rhartford@courant.com

CIL acquired the property at no cost from Boxer Properties of Houston. The transfer of Capewell was part of a deal in which CIL purchased the adjacent Hartford Square North   West office complex from Boxer last summer for $4.7 million.

Boxer foreclosed on the Capewell factory in 2010, after a previous developer, John Reveruzzi, failed to convert the building to apartments.

CIL just needs federal environmental officials to sign off on a $1 million proposed plan to clean-up PCBs, once used as a coolant but are now banned by the federal government, Legault said.

Legault told me CIL tentatively hopes to close its financing package on May 15. Construction of 75 apartments, beginning with the environmental clean-up, could begin within two or three weeks of the closing.

The financing includes a $5 million, second mortgage from the Capital Region Development Authority’s housing fund, which was approved by state Bond Commission in February. United Bank is providing a $9.2 million first mortgage and a $5 million bridge loan.

Federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits total $9 million.

The majority of the apartments are studios and one-bedroom units. The rents range from $1,050 for a 700-square-foot studio and $1,375 for a 860-square-foot one-bedroom to $2,000 for a 1,725-square-foot two-bedroom unit and $2,600 for a 1,850-square-foot, three-bedroom unit.

The apartments are expected to be ready for occupany in January, 2016.

Connecticut Office Of Florida Law Firm Relocates To Hartford

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

The Connecticut office of a Florida-based law firm has relocated from Simsbury to downtown Hartford, it was announced this morning.

The firm, Tampa-based Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, has moved into the One State Street tower. A spokeswoman told me the firm has leased 15,000 square feet for 10 years and is relocating 21 employees — a dozen attorneys and 9 support staffers.

Spokeswoman Kate Barth said the space will accommodate future expansion in Hartford.

In addition to Connecticut, the firm has offices in Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington D.C. According to its web site, the firm has more than 370 attorneys and focuses on litigation practice. The firm specializes in class action, national trial practice, white collar representation.

The firm was created in a merger last fall of two firms, Carlton Fields and Jorden Burt.

Today’s announcement comes a month after accounting firm Cohn Reznick confirmed that it was also relocating from the suburbs to downtown Hartford. Cohn Reznick will consolidate offices in Glastonbury and Farmington into space at Metro Center on Church Street.

Cicchetti

Cicchetti

Anthony Cicchetti, managing shareholder of the Simsbury office, said in a release that the firm’s concentration in the insurance and financial services industries made the move to Hartford “a very natural and important step for us.”

“We are also excited about Hartford’s resurgence as a corporate center,” Cicchetti said. “We are pleased to be able to contribute to the growth and new vitality of Hartford’s central business district.”

What Apartments At Former WFSB Site In Hartford Could Look Like

by Categorized: Apartments, Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Funding for the $18 million apartment building at the former WFSB site in Hartford is falling into place, and construction could get underway this summer, the developer says.

The new, 10-story building — christened “Residences at River View” — is expected to have 48, upscale one- and two-bedroom units.

Last week, the state bond commission backed a recommendation from the Capital Region Development Authority that $5 million in state funds be spent of the project.

The builder, Abul Islam, also plans about 50,000 square feet of commercial space in the building. Islam plans to relocate his company, AI Engineers, from Middletown into the space.

What the former WFSB site looks like today:

The former WFSB site on Hartford's Constitution Plaza. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

What the site could look like in a preliminary rendering:

Residences at River View, Constitution Plaza, Hartford. Courtesy of cbt architects, Boston.

Residences at River View, Constitution Plaza, Hartford. Courtesy of cbt architects, Boston.

Infinity Hall Debuts First Music Video In Hartford Venue

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Infinity Music Hall and Bistro has posted plenty of music videos of performances at its flagship Norfolk location.

But today, Infinity Hall is debuting the first video from its Hartford location, expected to open in June or July.

The video is the first of series that’s also intended to chronicle progress on construction in the new venue.

The video features the Hartford folk rock group Wise Old Moon:

Read more here about the making of the video.

 

State Bond Commission Backs Funding For XL Center Upgrades

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment, XL Center Date:
A rendering showing the new "fan club" bar area planned for Hartford's XL Center. Credit: JCJ Architecture

A rendering showing the new “fan club” bar area planned for Hartford’s XL Center from across the arena bowl. Credit: JCJ Architecture

The State Bond Commission Friday morning backed $31.2 million for upgrades at Hartford’s aging XL Center, with construction expected to begin in late spring.

The funding is part of a $35 million package approved by the state legislature in last year’s session of the General Assembly. In December, the bond commission backed spending $1.8 million of the package on developing plans for the improvements.

My colleague Chris Keating, who covered Friday’s bond commission meeting, reports that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it makes sense to make short-term improvements now because the state does not have any immediate plans for constructing a new arena.

“What I’m trying to do is stretch a very old facility,” Malloy told reporters at the state Capitol complex. “It is one of the older facilities in the nation of its type. I’m trying to get eight to 10 years out of it, quite frankly. Right now, the air conditioning system is in failure. Other systems in the building are in failure.”

Malloy added: “There is now way we could build a replacement facility overnight or quite frankly, in the next two years, for instance. So, we either close it and have no functions being run in Hartford or we put some money into it and stretch its life.”

The $35 million also includes funding to study long-term options for the XL Center, opened in 1975 as the Hartford Civic Center. The study is expected to get underway in earnest later this year.

In addition to new mechanical systems, improvements now planned will include a new “fan club” bar area that overlooks the bowl, loge seating and an upgraded sound system. The concourse will be refurbished to include themed “nodes” at the corners, renovated restrooms and expanded concession offerings.

Construction is expected to begin in May and be mostly completed by October, in time for the beginning of the hockey and basketball seasons.

See more renderings here of planned upgrades at the XL Center.

“XL Center needs this infusion of funds to stay current with industry practices as we map out a longer term plan for the buildings future,” Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told me.

The CRDA oversees the operations of both the XL Center and The Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Last year, the CRDA hired Global Spectrum to manage both.

PLANNED XL CENTER IMPROVEMENTS
Arena Bowl:
*New fan club area overlooking the bowl
*New loge boxes
*New sound system
*Upgraded video board and scoreboard
*New LED ribbon boards
*New digital advertising signs
Concourse:
*Renovated restrooms
*New wall and floor finishes
*New lighting
*Concession area improvements
*New doors and signs at entrances
*Improved disabled accessibility
Event Level:
*Renovated Wolf Pack, UConn basketball and visiting hockey and basketball team locker rooms
*New locker room for UConn hockey
*Renovated support kitchen
*New restrooms
*Improved disabled accessibility
Mechanical Systems:
*Upgraded control system
*Repaired or replaced heating, cooling and air circulation systems
*Repaired or replaced piping systems

Source: Capital Region Development Authority