Author: admin

Hartford’s convention center faces uncertain recovery from pandemic

Resource Credit CT Convention Center Archives

An article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin and published in the Hartford Courant on September 25, 2022, highlights challenges that COVID-19 pandemic concerns have triggered and uncertainties regarding the convention center’s complete recovery from the huge hit it took in the pandemic.  According to the article, convention center experts report that, in terms of its duration,  the depth of the fallout from the pandemic exceeds that of the 9/11 attacks.

COVID-19 triggered a dramatic shift in the workplace to either a hybrid or a completely remote work environment, but experts expect that the return to in-person networking, training, and shareholders’ meetings is on the horizon.  However, the convention center’s fiscal problems are real.  CRDA reports that in the convention center’s  2019 fiscal year there were 178 events. The 2020 fiscal year indicated a shortfall of 105 events due to a drop in bookings at the convention center during the last three months as the pandemic took hold.  There were no events in fiscal 2021, except the COVID-19 testing sites.

The article continues that the City of Hartford is increasing its efforts to  become an economic driver by attracting more business  conventions to Hartford. The City will invest $1.3 million in federal pandemic relief funds to create a convention and visitors bureau that is solely aimed at Hartford.  Further details are available at the Hartford Courant.

Legal Fees lead to turmoil in MDC

mdc office-and mdc chairman
(left) MDC Headquarters in Hartford; (right) William A. Dibella, MDC Chairman.

An article authored by Edmund H. Mahony and published in the Hartford Courant on September 12, 2022, informs  that bills submitted by  a lawyer retained by the MDC Chairman, William A. Dibella, has created discord within the Commission’s leadership.

The district board has authorized the expenditure of up to $50,000 to independently investigate how one of the lawyers Dibella retains for his private business was able to submit bills amounting to $60,000 in legal fees for work that the board had, several months earlier, signaled that it would not pay for.

At the same time, the full board defeated the move to send the $50,000 appropriation to the Commission’s Board of Finance from caution that it could languish while undergoing further review by Dibella’s loyalists who control the board.

The article continued that MDC’s Internal Audit Committee has demanded written answers from Dibella to questions including whether he had intervened to secure payment for James Sandler, the personal lawyer whose work for the MDC is in dispute. Until January, Sandler was contracted with MDC that paid him about $190,000 a year and (according to MDC’s commissioners and staff) he has collected about $2.8 million in fees from the MDC since 2008.

Further details may be viewed on the Hartford Courant website.

Image Credit: Courant File Photos

$4.5 Million in funding headed to Hartford

An article authored by Ted Glanzer and published in the Hartford Courant on July, 29, 2022, illuminated various projects that will benefit from state dollars that are earmarked for City improvements. According to the article, the City, the Capital Region Development Authority, and a number of non-profits in Hartford are among the beneficiaries of the latest round of hundreds of million of dollars in funding on the State Bond Commission Agenda.

The article asserted that the Speaker of the House, Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, informed that the City will receive a total funding of $4.5 million for brownfield remediation, the Hartline linear park project, and property improvements on  Magnolia and Irving Streets.

The brownfield remediation funds of $2M is not designated for any specific property. It will be spent at Hartford’s discretion.

The $1.5M set aside for the Hartline project will fund a planned walk and bike trail connection between the City and Bloomfield.

Other major funding to the City  will be $1 million slated  for improvements in the heart of Albany Avenue area.  Specifically,  the parcel that used to be a police station, a  PAL satellite office with a basketball court, located at the corner of Magnolia and Irving streets.

There is also $5.5 million slated to be awarded for redevelopment of the former Fuller Brush Company located in North Hartford that will be turned into new housing units as part of the City’s revitalization initiative.

The article continued that Mayor Luke Bronin lauded the City’s delegation and the Governor for securing the funds for such important projects.  Ritter noted that the redevelopment of Albany Avenue “is coming together.” He further stated that $10 million will be awarded to CT Science Center, for renovations and technology upgrades.

City-based non-profits are also slated to receive grants. These include, Elizabeth Park Conservancy – $1 million; Northside Neighborhood Alliance – $500,000; The Albany Avenue Y.M.C.A. of Greater Hartford – $500,000;  the Northwest location of the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford – $500,000.

At its next meeting, the State Bond Commission is expected to officially approve hundreds of millions of dollars in spending that in part will benefit Hartford-based projects. Further details may be viewed at the Hartford Courant website.

Image Credit: Courant File Photo

Community Development Meeting Albany & Woodland

 

A community meeting will be held at 6PM, on August 31, 2022, at the Artist Collective to allow the Upper Albany residents, business owners, and other community stakeholders to provide their input through discussion with the developers selected to complete the Albany- Woodland development project.

This vacant parcel of land that is located at the corner of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street – in the heart of the Upper Albany community – could hold the key to making the community a place  of destination instead of simply a pass-through between the suburbs and downtown Hartford.

The City of Hartford is promoting its redevelopment plans for revitalizing the Upper Albany area in Hartford and City officials have expressed their interest in listening to the ideas and visions of community leaders, advocates, and other people in the neighborhood.

Looming new trial increases legal costs in Hartford high-stakes ballpark lawsuit

image Dunkin Donuts Park
Photo Credit: Photo Flight Aerial Media /Hartford Hawks

According to an article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin and published in the Hartford Courant dated Sunday, August 7, 2022, the state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in response to the developers’ appeal of the 2019 ruling by jurors that sided with the City of Hartford’s decision to terminate Centerplan Construction Company and DoNo Hartford, LLC as builders of the proposed $71 million city-taxpayers’ funded 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park stadium. The project also included a future mixed use development (apartments and storefronts) around the ballpark.  The City’s basis for terminating the developers highlighted missed construction deadlines, cost overruns, and incomplete work.

The article continues that Centerplan and DoNo are seeking $90 million in damages for wrongful termination on basis that the delays were due to changes ordered by the City.  It is expected that this new trial will be more complex because the City had subsequently hired a new builder for the storefronts and apartments around Dunkin Donuts Park, and even more costly than the first trial because of the time that will be expended to examine the stadium plans and determine who ordered the alleged changes.   Mayor Bronin alleges that failure to terminate Centerplan would have cost the Hartford taxpayers “tens of millions” additional dollars and the City would have neither a baseball team nor a baseball stadium to validate the expenditure.

The stadium was competed in time for the 2017 minor league season after Centerplan’s surety company stepped up and hired a new contractor to correct and finish the work at a cost of $40 million dollars. Further details may be viewed on the Hartford Courant website.

Plans for Hartford Marijuana Shop stalled due to Zoning issues

An article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin and published in the Hartford Courant dated July 28, 2022, provides a recent update on the zoning dispute between the City of Hartford’s department of development services and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). The strong CRDA objection to the City’s department of developmental services’ endorsement of the proposal for Hartford’s first adult-use cannabis shop at 89 Arch Street (corner of Arch Street and Columbus Boulevard) in the Front Street community was upheld.

CRDA argued that zoning throughout Front Street and the broader Adriaen’s Landing development district (which includes Arch Street) in Hartford falls within its purview. Based on submitted land and remediation surveys and master development plans that dates back to 2000 when Adriaen’s Landing was developed, the committee concluded that the property located at 89 Arch Street falls within the CRDA zoning jurisdiction.

The CRDA opposes the cannabis shop on the basis of long-standing agreements to shape developments that prohibit uses including check-cashing, pawn shops, firearm sellers, the sale of pornographic items, head shops, and cannabis sales. The article continues that in response to the Zoning Commission’s decision to uphold CRDA zoning jurisdiction, Derrick C. Gibbs, Jr., a partner in the proposed cannabis shop commented, “We tried our best. We thought it was a good location. We’ll go to another city. It’s not a big deal.”

The above information was excerpted from the Hartford Courant. Contact Kenneth R. Gosselin at kgosselin@courant.com for additional details.

First phase of $50M North Crossing Development

The North Crossing transformative development located downtown Hartford – South of Dunkin Donuts Park and around the corner from the XL Center-  is nearing completion. The Pennant, is the first of North Crossing’s residences. The developers RMS advocate that once completed, this development will feature a mix of residential, parking and retail buildings that combine historic Hartford charm with a modern, contemporary design.

The final $50 million project will consist of 270 apartments, a 330 parking space garage, and 11,000 square feet of retail space . It is lauded as a live-work-play development with unparalleled amenities that are custom designed for the Urban lifestyle. Pre-leasing of phase-1 began on May 15, 2022.

Additional details are available in the Hartford Courant publication dated Friday, July 15, 2022, authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin, and on the RMS website.

Resource Credit: RMS and Kenneth R. Gosselin/Hartford Courant

 

Hartford food truck project delayed

On February 28, 2022, the Hartford Business Journal published an article authored by Zachary Vasile, reporting that investors Rebeca and Quan Quach had filed plans with the City of Hartford to establish a food truck park dubbed “West Side Park” on the vacant lot at 510 Farmington Avenue.  The proposed operation entails four food trucks and a double-decker bus that also serves food. Further information is located on the HBJ website.

However, a recent article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin in the Hartford Courant, on June 27, 2022,  regarding the status of plans for the “West Side Park” indicates that the opening of Hartford’s first food truck park at the corner of Farmington and Girard avenues in the City’s West End  that was previously scheduled for May, 2022, is now delayed until early July, 2022.

The article continues that the investors attributed the delay to problems resulting from a combination of their own inexperience with the intricacies of dealing with multiple city departments on a project that had no existing zoning regulations, and the slow responses from city departments to their questions. Further information may be gleaned from the Hartford Courant’s website.

Will Upper Albany project come through?

In an article published by the Hartford Courant, Kenneth Gosselin asked the question (titled) above and referenced the redevelopment plans for revitalizing the Upper Albany area in Hartford, CT.  The article continues that the vacant parcel of land located at the corner of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street in the heart of Upper Albany could hold the key to making the neighborhood an area of destination instead of simply a pass-through between the suburbs and downtown Hartford.

This is a $15M development plan that will include a 2-level sit-down restaurant with rooftop dining, a soon-to-be-named national retailer,  a bank branch, a community room, and a relocated City Health Department and WIC offices.  Further details may be viewed on page 3 of the Hartford Courant dated June 20, 2022.

Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS) Program Receives National Accreditation

CT Main Street Center (CMSC), on June 15, 2022, awarded its 2022 National Accreditation to Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS) and three other Main Street programs.  This designation as an Accredited Main Street America™ program was awarded in recognition of UAMS’s exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization via the Main Street Approach™ while meeting rigorous performance standards.

According to the CMSC news release, “The impact and performance of Upper Albany Main Street, Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, Simsbury Main Street Partnership, and Main Street Waterbury is annually evaluated by Connecticut Main Street Center, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet rigorous national performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building meaningful and sustainable revitalization programs and include standards such as, fostering strong public-private partnerships, supporting small and locally owned businesses, and actively preserving historic places, spaces, and cultural assets.

Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker, Interim CEO of CMSC said, “We congratulate our Main Street programs in Upper Albany, Westville Village, Simsbury, and Waterbury for their continued dedication to bringing their Main Streets back to life and ensuring their long-term success. The ability of these programs to effectively address the needs of small and micro businesses while continuing to engage a variety of community stakeholders to ensure their Main Streets are vibrant and inclusive is critical to the economic and social health of our entire state,”

Patrice Frey, President & CEO of Main Street America said, “We are extremely proud to recognize this year’s 863 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to advance economic vitality and quality of life in their downtowns and commercial districts” .. “During another incredibly challenging year, these programs demonstrated the power of the Main Street movement to respond to the needs of their communities. I am inspired by their steadfast leadership and innovative solutions to drive essential local recovery efforts, support small businesses, and nurture vibrant downtown districts.”

Further information can be viewed online at https://ctmainstreet.org/press-release-four-cmsc-members-receive-national-accreditation/

 

 

 

Housing and restaurants included in proposal for development in Hartford

An article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin published in the Hartford Courant on June 17,2022,  reports that the Capital Regional Development Authority (CRDA) will begin evaluating  four proposals for the Performing Arts initiative on a two-acre parcel of barren expanse as a major redevelopment near the Bushnell Center.

It is reported that the proposals call for 250 to 350 units of housing, split between 80 percent market-rate and 20 percent  affordable 25,000 square feet of commercial space, and various plans for parking garages. The vision is to create a stronger, walkable connection between Bushnell Park, the nearby Hartford Hospital district and Park Street, and extending to Colt Park.  Further information can be viewed  on Hartford Courant online at https://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-biz-hartford-bushnell-south-proposals-20220616-i2t65d7mtbed3ozui232gjurqm-story.html

Image Resource Credit: Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant.

Zoning Dispute between City of Hartford & CRDA

In  an article appearing on the front page of the Hartford Courant on  June 16, 2022,  Kenneth R. Gosselin reported that the future of recreational marijuana seemed to have taken a downturn as the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) strongly opposes the approval of a cannabis shop at the 89 Arch Street, across from the convention center.  Plans for the cannabis shop were endorsed by the City of Hartford’s planning and zoning department that contends it has zoning purview for the Arch Street parcel, but the CRDA  argues otherwise.  In a virtual  hearing  on Tuesday, June 14, 2022,  the issue was tabled until June 28 to allow time to determine which agency has zoning purview.

The article continues,  “In a letter to the commission, Hartford City Council President Maly D. Rosado also urged caution, asking the commission to withhold any vote “until city leaders can develop a more robust plan on the sale of legal cannabis within Hartford.”

Additional information regarding this issue may be viewed by accessing the Hartford Courant online or the PressReader website at https://pressreader.com/article/281479280078338

Image Resource Credit: Douglas Hook / Hartford Courant.