With downtown Hartford’s Front Street entertainment district nearly all leased, officials are looking across the street for possible new development.
The Capital Region Development Authority is in discussions with a potential tenant for a building that would be constructed on the parking lot in front of the convention center in Hartford, the authority’s executive director confirmed Wednesday.
CRDA’s executive director Michael W. Freimuth declined to identify the possible tenant.
But Freimuth told me he will ask the authority’s board Thursday to approve the use up to $30,000 in state economic development funds to study the 1.3-acre site and how much it might cost to develop.
“We are experiencing a modicum of success at Front Street, further heightened by apartment construction and the UConn campus,” Freimuth said. “We think there is further potential there.”
One major issue is how much it might cost to deal with contamination under the site that was sealed off in the construction of the convention center, opened in 2005. Dealing with cleaning up soil could push up development costs significantly, Freimuth said.
Ronald F. Angelo, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, told me Wednesday that it is a good time for the study, given activity in the downtown area.
“If the study shows that it looks reasonable, there might be a good opportunity here,” Angelo said.
The parking lot was envisioned for future expansion of the convention center. Any development on the site would have to constructed in such a way that it could be incorporated into an enlarged convention center should that become necessary in the future.
The Front Street entertainment district now has a movie theater and The Capital Grille. Infinity Music Hall & Bistro is expected to open this summer; and two restaurants — Ted’s Montana Grill and Nix’s seafood restaurant are scheduled to open this spring.