Gateway Self-Storage Owners Visit University of Hartford

The owners of Gateway Self-Storage, Morris Hardaway and Gordon Jones, and past student Madison Thibodeau, were the guest speakers at the MBI capstone class this spring. In 2023, the Gateway owners were paired with Thibodeau on an architectural design project while she was a student pursuing an Architectural Design & Technology major concentrating in Construction Management and minoring in Business Entrepreneurial Studies at the university. The renderings of Thibodeau’s final design and floor plan are shown below.

CHEETAH at University of Hartford’s MBI

Dr. Paulette Trowers was the guest speaker at the University of Hartford’s small business practicum class during the spring semester.  Seventeen students were enrolled and are working on diverse projects after being paired on a one-to-one basis with small or micro business owners in the Hartford community. Project areas include technology, research, and architectural design. Dr. Celia Duke Lofink (the class instructor),  the guest speaker, and all the students posed for this photograph at the end of the class.


Grow America: Albany-Woodland Development

Image of planned mixed-use-development.

The City of Hartford has partnered with the National Development Council (NDC) and established Community Development Properties Woodland, Inc. a non-profit agency tasked to develop the long-vacant, high-profile parcel located at the intersection of Albany  Avenue and Woodland Street within the Upper Albany neighborhood.

According to the news released at a meeting held on Friday, February 16 at 9 AM at the Albany Branch Library and Community Hub, 1250 Albany Avenue, Hartford, this mixed-use development project will consist of the construction of a new 30,500 sq. ft. two-story commercial building that will house the City of Hartford’s Health Department, a full-service bank, and a sit-down restaurant. Two additional commercial spaces will be constructed to accommodate the development and adjacent businesses on the Albany Avenue side of the development.

The PAC Group, LLC was selected as the Construction Manager for this project, and they are finalizing the Site/Foundation Package that will be released this month [February]. An information/pre-bid conference will be held for subcontractors interested in bidding on the different segments of the project. Click here to view a copy of the PAC Community Outreach presentation document.

Hartford’s four-mile underground tunnel

According to an article in the CT Insider,  Capital Region, in 2022, a tunnel boring system called IRIS – which is a major component of MDC’s Clean Water Project that was established in connection with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – had churned its way through the Earth, 200 feet below the surface, creating a tunnel four miles long and 18-feet in diameter, which is intended to catch overflowing water across the southwest portion of Hartford.

The red cutter-head which is the front of the tunnel boring machine, was lowered 200-ft into the tunnel launch shaft on Brainard Road, Hartford, in August 2018
The red cutter head, the front of the tunnel boring machine, was lowered 200 feet into the tunnel launch shaft on Brainard Road, Hartford, in August 2018. Credit: MDC

This is a view at the bottom of the tunnel looking up toward the retrieval shaft in West Hartford. Source Credit: Contributed phone/MDC
This is a view at the bottom of the tunnel looking up toward the retrieval shaft in West Hartford. Source Credit: Contributed phone/MDC

City officials have concurred that the sewer system in Hartford is outdated – stormwater and sewage share the same pipes. IRIS was born from the challenges encountered by the MDC while trying to implement sewer separation in the Hartford community. This tunnel is the first of its kind in Connecticut. The project began in 2018, creating a tunnel that starts at Brainard Road in Hartford and ends at the MDC’s retrieval facility on Talcott Road in West Hartford.

The project is expected to be functional in 2026 after construction on the pump station is finished. When implemented, the overflowing water, upon entering the tunnel,  will be treated before being deposited into the Connecticut River.

Source Credit: Emily DiSalvo, Staff Writer

Hartford initiative to help entrepreneurs

Hartford officials have announced the formation of a new office dubbed  “The Business One-Stop”  intended to ease the challenges to entrepreneurs creating small businesses in the City of Hartford.

The Office of the Business One-Stop will be part of the Department of Development Services and will liaise with small business owners seeking direct help navigating the process of starting a business. According to the Hartford Courant,  Randall Davis, interim director of the department, said that to ensure streamlined communication, this newly created office will report directly to the mayor’s office.

Don Chapman, a long-time urban planner and a previous Director of Small Business and Community Development for the City of Hartford, has been tapped to lead the new office after Mayor Arulampalam noted that in conversations with small business owners, they all repeatedly mentioned Don Chapman. Chapman’s primary role will be to help small business owners navigate city hall and ensure timely responses to their questions.

Mayor Arulampalam has expressed his hope that this process will open doors to more investment in the city via a simple process that ensures entrepreneurs opening a small business do not have to hire a lawyer or a lobbyist to navigate city hall.

Source: Stephen Underwood, Hartford Courant, January 17, 2024. 

Downpayment Assistance Program for Low and moderate income homebuyers in Hartford

According to information from the City of Hartford’s website, the HouseHartford Homebuyer Assistance Program was created by the City of Hartford, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Fannie Mae.

The program offers low and moderate-income home buyers down payment assistance for the purchase of one- to four-family homes located in the City of Hartford.

HouseHartford promotes livable and sustainable neighborhoods by making the dream of homeownership attainable for many families who may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage.

The City of Hartford partners with local and national banks, real estate attorneys, and home buyer counseling agencies to administer this program, and since its inception, the program has assisted more than 1,300 families in attaining the dream of homeownership.

A  copy of the HouseHartford brochure may be downloaded by clicking here. Additional information is located on the City’s website.

Step 1. Review the Guidelines

  • What type of properties are eligible?  1-4 family homes and condominium units located in the City of Hartford.
  • What is the amount of home buyer assistance that one can receive?  Potential home buyers can receive up to 20% of the purchase price in down payment assistance up to a maximum assistance of $40,000. Restrictions may apply.
  • Who can apply?  Low and moderate-income potential homeowners can apply for assistance under this program. Program restrictions are based on the total annual household income of the applicant. The total annual household income of the home buyer cannot exceed the income limits as shown on the HouseHartford brochure, based on household size. These maximum income limits are established by HUD and are based on 80% of the Hartford Area Median Family Income.

Step 2. Contact a Participating Lender

Contact one of the participating lenders below and inform them of your interest in applying for the HouseHartford program. The lender will submit the HouseHartford application to the City on your behalf.

  1. American Eagle Financial C.U. – 860.568.2020
  2. Embrace Home Loans – 860.919.7755
  3. Fairway Independent Mortgage – 860.803.0810
  4. First World Mortgage – 860.785.4066
  5. Guild Mortgage Company, LLC – 860.462.8553
  6. Liberty Bank – 860.982.6601

Step 3. Complete the Program Interest Form

Interested in learning more about the House Hartford program? Complete and submit the form after clicking the link below and a member of the City of Hartford Housing staff will contact you.

Click Here!


Source: City of Hartford


International Hartford Micro Grant Program to assist small business owners

In a meeting with members of the Upper Albany Merchant Association, Erwin Hurst, Sr. informed that International Hartford works closely with several organizations including HEDCO to offer various business services and micro-grant opportunities to minority entrepreneurs. There is currently a micro-grant program in amounts up to $10,000 for which small business owners may apply. Grants will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis until funds are depleted.

According to its website, International Hartford is a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of jobs in Hartford for immigrants and refugees by helping them become entrepreneurs and build their businesses. Through business classes and financial consulting, as well as loan preparation and step-by-step assistance, the organization focuses on supporting the entrepreneurial initiative of Hartford immigrants to ensure starting a business in Connecticut is easier and more feasible with help from the organization. Connecticut welcomes immigrants and International Hartford helps them create jobs in Hartford.

Regardless of your country of origin, if you need help starting a business in Connecticut or finding your way, International Hartford will assist you on diverse projects. Contact Erwin Hurst at (860) 490- 4557 or visit the International Hartford website for further details.

CT DOT mobility study: $10B plan to transform travel in Greater Hartford

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is allowing the public a chance to weigh in on its envision to reshape transportation in the Greater Hartford area.  The changes would create new opportunities for redevelopment and recreation, both in Hartford and East Hartford.

Two meetings are scheduled to inform the public and garner public opinion as they explore the components of the Greater Hartford Mobility Study. The first meeting will be held at the Chrysalis Center on Homestead Avenue on  Thursday, November 9, and the second meeting will be at the Cultural Community Center, Chapman Place in East Hartford, on  Thursday, November 16.  Both meetings will convene at 6 PM and end at 8 PM.

In both meetings, the study team will host an open house from 6 PM through 7 PM with displays and allow the public a chance to speak with members of the team. At 7 PM there will be a formal presentation outlining the next steps, including state and federal environmental reviews, after which there will be time allotted for questions and answers.

The recommendations outlined in the mobility study report are in the earliest stages, developed partly via discussion with local officials, and neighborhood groups. However, there are hurdles in terms of federal environmental assessments and securing financing that must be cleared for the larger projects, as reported by the Courant.

The center of the study has four major highway projects including the addition of two bridges over the Connecticut River to ease traffic congestion and restore connections between Hartford and East Hartford communities. The plan would include:  relocating the I91/I84,  lowering I84 as it passes through Hartford, rail, bus, and pedestrian access, plus dozens of smaller projects that would start long before the big-ticket highway improvements, maybe within the next five years. The projects could take decades to complete and cost more than $10 billion.

According to the Courant, Kevin J. Burnham, a supervising engineer at the DOT, said “These public information meetings for the Greater Hartford Mobility Study are one of the many ways we are reaching out to community members and stakeholders to both inform and gather feedback about each component of the study.”

Members of the public are encouraged to sign up to receive email updates and provide study comments on the website.  For additional information access the Hartford Courant or follow the Greater Hartford Mobility Study on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Source: Kenneth R. Gosselin || Hartford Courant, November 7, 2023.


Hartford to pay $10M settlement in ballpark development litigation

The Hartford Courant reports that after seven years and $6M in legal fees, the City of Hartford has negotiated directly with Arch Insurance Company and reached an agreement to settle the city’s dispute with the former developers — Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC — who were fired by Mayor Bronin from the unfinished Dunkin’ Park in 2016, and one year later, the mixed-use development around the 6,100-seat stadium. The $9.9M settlement is outlined in Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s letter to the city council calling for payment to the Arch Insurance Company that financed the completion of the Dunkin’ ballpark.

The city was victorious in a jury trial in the case in 2019. The developers successfully appealed that decision and won a new trial that was set to begin in the spring. During an afternoon news conference at Hartford City Hall, Bronin reiterated his belief that the city would yet again be on the winning side, but the prospect of years of further appeals — costing as much as $6 million — plus years of stalled redevelopment around Dunkin’ Park made the settlement the right option for the city.  Bronin continued by saying that the settlement “represents an opportunity not only to eliminate those legal fees but to remove the cloud of this litigation altogether […] and to allow the city of Hartford to move forward with the development of the parcels around the baseball park and to ensure the new administration can come in without the distraction of ongoing litigation.”

Since 2016, the city has paid about $6 million in legal fees to outside firms with expertise in construction law. Those fees, plus the costs of defending and settling the lawsuit bring the total expenditure closer to $16 million. Stamford-based RMS Companies — the developer who replaced Centerplan and DoNo Hartford — have completed one phase of the development around Dunkin’ Park, specifically the $50 million, 270-unit apartment known as “The Pennant”.

However, the litigation blocked RMS from advancing to the second of four planned phases for more than a year, but RMS’ founder and chief executive Randy Salvatore remained committed to the development.  According to the Courant, Salvatore said, “I’m obviously very excited about the whole thing,” Salvatore said Thursday, of the settlement. “We’re gearing up right now to go, so I’m hopeful that we can have a groundbreaking by the end of the year.”

North Crossing’s second phase identified as “Parcel B” will have 532 apartments, a 541-space garage, and 10,000 square feet of storefront space with construction costing $120 million. Parcel B development will be completed in two phases. The first phase will include 228 apartments and the planned parking garage. The remaining 304 apartments will be completed in the second phase.

According to the Courant, at the news conference, Bronin said moving forward with North Crossing was important for several reasons including:

  • Generating new taxes to help pay off the city’s costs in building Dunkin’ Park.
  • Rebuilding the momentum behind the city’s revitalization.
  • Fueling economic development.

Louis R. Pepe, an attorney for the former developers issued a statement Thursday that said: Centerplan and DoNo Hartford “are very pleased with the settlement of the claims they had against the City of Hartford in this matter, and they look forward to recovering additional compensation for their losses in the continuing litigation against the design professionals for the stadium project,” the Courant reported.

The new trial was scheduled for April 2024, but with this settlement, both sides have agreed that there would be no further litigation in this matter in the future. Visit the Hartford Courant for more details.

Source: Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, October 26, 2023.