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The Voice of Reason

what is appropriate density in Hartford?

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I was thinking about this recently.

 

many of the lifestyle center built and proposed in and around Hartford tend to be in the 5 story area.  this includes Blue Back, Front Street, that new town proposed along Day Hill in Windsor, The building Plan B is in Glastonbury, etc.

 

The core of downtown is clearly taller than 5 stories, and there are a ton of vacant lots, but what height should Hartford be infilling with?

 

This includes North Downtown(parking sea)

Charter Oak is building 2-4 story townhomes, especially near capewell, is this appropriate?

 

Front street Phase 2 is 5 stories... Phase 1 was a shopping center on the endge of downtown.

Should there be a minimum height in some parts of Hartford?

 

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I was also thinking about certain areas in town particularly C harter Oak and Coltsville.

 

This area seems poised for further investment in the coming years.  How dense should it be?

 

Places like Charlotte and Minneapolis seem to get a pretty hefty number for 6 story infill projects on the downtown perifory.  is that appropriate over here?   I know they went shorter than that for the old housing project and the townhomes on capewell, but there is a huge ammount of space over here.  I assume we will see some residential development here in the coming decade connecting the downtown core and the S main Street housing to Coltsville. 

 

What form will this housing take, and what should it be?

 

I know I for one would like to see some upscale low/mid rise with walkability as a selling point, but there seems to be an interest in improving low income housing options in the area.

 

 

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Downtown should be 4-10 stories consistently occupying entire lots, with minimal parking egresses, ample ground floor retail, and with towers interspersed. Think of background buildings like Trumbull on the Park or the Goodwin Hotel, mixed with our current batch of towers (and maybe a few new ones).

 

Inner neighborhoods should build primarily at their current scale, with a focus on eliminating empty lots or underutilized parcels, and maintaining affordability for current residents & businesses.

Edited by Chessplayer

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So you think 3-4 stories in the downtown edge like Charter Oak?  That area to me is the most interesting because there are high rise and mid rise and low rise in that area.  but more than anything there is surface parking and unused lots.  I personally think that part of town needs 6+ stories on most of the vacant spaces.  that would be a nice density.  downtown I think should pretty much not allow anything less than 8 stories.  I dont need 20+ story towers or anything but I loath the idea of front street Phase 1.  The 5 stories in Phase 2 is barely acceptable, and I can only hope for a better phase 3/4

 

I also hope that someday they build some residential on top of the existing phase 1.  I know it wont be anything spectacular, and it surelty will be stick built and not steel girders.

 

a great building that hartford could use as a template in the buil;ding on Trumbull that The Russell is in.

perfect scale to use as a minimum. 

 

I can accept 4 stories only if it is the pedestal for a taller tower downtown. 

 

as far as maintaining affordability, I am kindof mixed on this issue.

 

I like that the 1200 planned apartments often contain some rent control, but as long as it remains a minority of the space.   I think the CRDA is limiting the ammount to 20% for projects they are involved in.  this will hopefully keep it semi affordable, but also not open the door for seedy.

 

/Begin Tangent!

 

adding 240 rent controled apartments and 960 market rate is fine but many of the market rate units are on the smaller and cheaper side.

I feel like downtown needs to gain a little more "shine" before we can assume its value is secured.  I want corporate executives to see downtown af a fancy neighborhood.  that is my biggest concern.  Since the reputation in Hartford is dismal, and many people only share what they heard without experience, I almost want downtown to be overdone.   this way there will be more of a sustainable future.

 

honestly I can break it down to one imaginary project....

IF someone ever builds a very nice ownership building on the park either in the Hilton lot, the YMCA, or the lot next to 55 on the park... we will have some permanent shine!  (mind you that is only when you consider the existing and planned developments)  IF that were to happen, we would have both high end rentals and high end condos.  and more than one building of each.  something new paired with Bushnell towers would be a nice win.  Hartford 21 paired with 777 main, sage allen and possibly AI tech center should give some great higher end rental units to feed the ownership demand.  Once we have that (and I dont see the condo coming any time soon) then downtown would be more sustainable.  more secure.  more appealing to executives who might keep their company offices downtown.

 

/End tangent!

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If done well, 4-10 stories with towers interspersed would look like the the east side of Trumbull St -- definitely an appropriate scale for downtown Hartford.

 

The Hartford region already has an urban, upscale destination in West Hartford Center, which is just 3.5 miles from Main & Asylum. Downtown Hartford, like other healthy downtown districts, should be a place of high activity with amenties across the spectrum. Plenty of people think perfectly healthy downtowns are seedy -- it's okay if that happens with downtown Hartford too.

Edited by Chessplayer

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Interesting perspective.  So, in a way you are saying that West Hartford is our Newbury Street I think.

 

I completely buy that, but would love to be able to catch a train from Asylum/Main to WHC. 

 

 

I think Hartford needs to get quite a bit less seedy.  to the poaint that it is percieved as not seedy smply because of its long history of seedyness.

now, I know there will always be all ikinds of folks walking around and there should be, Id love for the upper crust to feel more comfortable in the city.  depending on how the next 3 years shape up with residential conversions, the CRDA, UConn downtown iQuilt and many other projects this could be a long or short road.

 

I know the ciy has interest in developing NODO is the 2-4 story range.  I really struggle with 2 stories in a city.  while walking aroung Raleigh (a seedier downtown than Hartford BTW in my opinion, I came across a large 2 story townhome development that was pretty new, and I gotta say... it didnt work.   Im sure it filled in a big hole and that has value because something is better than nothing, butit was way too close to downtown to not be 4 stories

it actually almost sapped vibrancy from the area.

 

I hope that as our empty lots a re redeveloped the powers at be accept 4 stories as a minimum.

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I think Hartford needs to get quite a bit less seedy.  to the poaint that it is percieved as not seedy smply because of its long history of seedyness..

100% spot on. Rudy Guiliani cleaned up Manhattan by having a no tolerance attitude towards ALL crime. Fare jumpers, pan handlers, thieves, vandals were all arrested and prosecuted. Hartford could do the same and clean up its image in no time as it is a fraction the size of New York.

I know two business owners downtown on Main St. who say dealing with vagrants, pan handing, petty theft, littering, car break-ins, booming car stereos, etc. (all quality of life crimes) are huge obstacles to the perception of downtown. Suburban town centers would never tolerate these nuisance crimes and Hartford shouldn't either. Start agressively prosecuting these small crimes and start locking the perps up. You don't see bike riders speeding down sidewalks in Boston crashing into pedestrians like they do in Hartford.

IMO the panhandling situation is out of control in Hartford. You literally get approached every block by someone asking for money. Doesn't happen in cities like New York or Boston.

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Not disagreeing with you really, just that I spend alot of time downtown and almost never have someone aproach me.  maybe I look poor :)

 

 

back to your point, I think its a shame there are not say, 3-4 pairs of beet cops walking or biking the center of downtown every day from morning till just after say 9?

 

they would mainly serve as a visible presence.  and they should as you say encourage those cops to get the bokes off sidewalks and to handle the nuissance crimes.

 

This way most of the visitors to hartford which are the workers, and the diners would see an active and engaged police force every time they come into town.  while they may be no less crime with this kind of enforcement the perception would be drastically changed.

 

only thing is that we again may not quite be ready for this step. 

 

If as it seems likely, Uconn, and say 1000 apartments open up downtown, the city will look a bit different.  its safe to assume 2-3 new buildings are likely (UConn, Front street Phase 2, AI Tech Center)

with more parking lots filled in perception improves greatly... If some of the mother mentioned or the full extent of possible projects proceed, I can surely see a reason for a greater visable presence for the police.  I know the city is broke, but damn its 8 cops

 

protect your most valuable assets, in this case downtown.

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