The Gold Street project in downtown Hartford — a component of the iQuilt plan — is being pushed back a year by the city, after the street relocation project ran into opposition from neighbors.
The most recent plans call for the straightening of Gold Street, which runs west from Main Street to Bushnell Park. The shift is intended to create a continuous green space from Main to the park along the north side of the relocated street, a linear park that would link the Stone Field Sculpture to Bushnell Park.
The current proposed relocation of Gold Street (BETA Engineering).
How the proposal could be modified. (BETA Engineering).
But owners in the Bushnell Tower condominiums argued that moving the street would bring it too close to their building. On the other side of the street, the First Church of Christ complains its church house would become isolated with a green space separating it from the relocated street.
See my story about why property owners are upset about Gold Street project.
Work on Gold Street was scheduled to begin this spring, but will be pushed back until spring, 2015.
Hartford’s Gold Street, looking east to Main Street from Bushnell Park. (Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant)
Since opposition bubbled over last month, three options now have emerged: proceed with the current vision for straightening Gold Street; modify the relocation so it doesn’t swing as close to the condo tower; or leave the street where it is, possibly narrowing it.
The modification now envisioned pushes the straightening away from the condo tower by a little over seven feet.
Thomas E. Deller, the city’s development director, told me the options will be used to foster further discussions with the church, the condo residents and other property owners. A decision must be reached by a deadline of Dec. 1, he said.
“If we have to redesign anything, we will need time to do it,” Deller said.
Deller said any relocation of the street also must be approved by the city council because it would swing beyond an established right-of-way, even though the reconstruction would be on city-owned property.
The IQuilt plan, adopted by the city council four years ago, aims at making the downtown area more walkable and inviting to visitors. Supporters say the relocation of Gold Street is crucial to the 1-mile GreenWalk that is the centerpiece of iQuilt. The greenwalk would link the state Capitol to the riverfront.
Not everyone opposes the relocation of Gold Street. A May 1 letter to the city from seven property owners in and around nearby Lewis Street supports the relocation of Gold Street as now envisioned because it is crucial to the overall iQuilt plan.
The letter states: “As the city embarks on implementing the iQuilt plan, it is critical that the plan be implemented as designed and that the leadership of the city not allow late-to-the-game skeptics to compromise a critical component of a well thought out plan which will enhance the health, quality-of-life, vibrancy, and the economy of the city of Hartford for the future.”
Paul Spinella, Voden, LLC, 15 Lewis Street Associates, Talcott Realty Investors, Lewis Street Partners, LLC, Dr. Karlos Boghosian and David K. Elwell IRA Equity Trust signed the letter.
Opponents of the relocation said the change would worsen already lengthy back-ups on Lewis Street during rush hour.
The city is under time constraints to complete the Gold Street project because it is part of the larger, $25 million “Intermodal Triangle Project.” The project must finished by September, 2015, a condition of the $10 million federal grant being used to pay for the improvements. If the deadline isn’t met, the city could lose the grant, city officials have said.
The project includes improvements in and around Union Station; along the park on Jewell and Wells streets and around Gold Street.