The redevelopment of the former Colt factory in Hartford will take a long-awaited step forward now that construction will begin on the remaining apartments planned for a key building in the complex.
Another 79 apartments — mostly studio and one-bedroom units — will be added to the 50 that are already in the six-story, South Armory building. The construction of the units will be largely funded with $5 million in bond money from the city of Hartford.
At a news conference outside the South Armory this afternoon, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra noted that nearly all of the existing units are leased.
“These apartments are not only do-able,” Segarra said. “They are rentable.”
Colt developer Larry Dooley told me that all the construction permits have been secured, and the work is expected to take about nine months. The first units are expected to be available in early summer, Dooley said.
Dooley said the residents already living in the South Armory are bringing a sense of community to the former industrial complex.
“I can’t image what it will be when its two-and-half times that number of apartments,” Dooley said.
The apartments are expected to range in size from 600 square feet for the studios to 1,000 square feet for the largest one-bedroom units.
Monthly rents are expected to start at $1,050 for the studios and increase to $1,598 for the one-bedroom units. Rent includes cold water, trash removal and parking but not hot water or electricity.
The city committed the $5 million to the project in early 2012, but the funding was delayed for two reasons. Colt had to restructure the debt on its properties, including mortgage foreclosures linked to previous failed attempts at redeveloping Colt.
The city also had to negotiate with Dooley over what provisions would come along with the money, Thomas E. Deller, the city’s development director, told me. The provisions include ensuring that a certain number of minority- and women-owned businesses and city residents be hired during construction, Deller said.
Apartments are planned for the third through the sixth floors of the 200,000-square-foot South Armory. The lower floors are reserved for commercial tenants. Last year, Foley Carrier Services relocated to the building from Glastonbury. The first retail tenant in the building, Cafe Colt, also opened.
Leaders in the Sheldon Oaks/Charter Oak neighborhood said the addition of the apartments at Colt is steadily changing the face of what has long been a mostly industrial area. The apartments also attract residents of more diverse incomes, they said.
“Slowly, but surely, with Colt coming on board, there will be more housing options in our neighborhood,” Lynn Ferrari, president of The Coalition for Strengthening of Sheldon Oaks/Charter Oak Neighborhood.
Dooley said the city’s investment — and the resulting construction — would make private investors more comfortable that the entire, $120 million project is commercially viable.
Segarra said the years-long push to win national park designation for Colt in Washington has not lost momentum. The most well known structure in the complex is the East Armory and its blue, onion-shaped dome.
“We’re going to continue working those votes, one by one,” Segarra said.