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MadVlad

My Hartford wish list

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As I drive around Hartford every day, I do what most of you all probably do: daydream about what Hartford would be like if I had 50 billion dollars. Here's a few of my daydreams, not necessarily in order of importance:

1) New arena with the new Whalers: Right off the bat, I'd buy the Whalers back from Petey Karmanos (make him an offer he couldn't refuse), and promptly bring them home. I would build a state-of-the-art arena to house my new team, perhaps on parcel 12B, just north of I-84 along the East side of Main Street. The current Civic Center could then be torn down in lieu of a matching tower for Hartford 21.

2) Space Needle: Hartford needs to re-create itself as a destination, so why not put up something that no one in the immediate area has, a Space Needle type tower. The spot I have in mind is that vacant parcel at the corner of Broad St and Farmington Ave, across from 600 Asylum (Capitol View Apartments). That whole corner can be dug out all the way to I-84 below, create underground parking at the highway level, build the tower from street-level up. It's on Asylum Hill, so it already starts off on higher ground than the rest of downtown, and it would have awesome views (I imagine you could probably see Springfield on a clear day), and a rotating restaurant at the top. The closest tower of that type (to my knowledge) and in Niagara Falls. Boston doesn't have one, New York doesn't need one, it would be the perfect thing to bring people into the city for a unique experience. It would also be the perfect tourist bridge to connect downtown and Nook Farm (Mark Twain House/Harriett Beecher Stowe House).

3) Constitution College: We all know that Constitution Plaza didn't work, but it still could. Make it into a full-time, dormitory driven college. It would accomplish a lot of what Hartford needs, foot traffic, a 24-7 environment, things to do, book stores, coffee shops, etc. The Clarion could be converted into dorms, along with the tower that Travelers uses as a training center. All that open space would be great filled with bustling college life. All the office space lost could be redistributed to fill some of the vacancies in other parts of downtown.

4) Monorail: A few years ago, Hartford had gotten some 11th hour funding in to potentially pay for transit downtown, and the "quick" plan they trew together involved a monorail. I haven't heard about it since, but it was a great idea. Connected would be the train station, the new arena/Civic Center, Constitution Plaza/College, Coltsville, Park/Main, and perhaps Aetna/Space Needle. In a loop, in that order, with the availability to expand.

5) Artspace II: That ugly building on Spring Street or whatever with the holes cut into it for billboards along I-84 could be turned into Artspace II. That would create a better eclectic scene in that part of donwtown, put to use a horrible building, and bridge the neighborhood just beyond, which could be rehabbed into better housing.

6) More residential towers: I'm thinking along Allyn St, in all those empty lots. It would create the type of critical mass population we currently dream about. It would also fill up some nasty open area that basically does nothing.

Ideas? Critisisms? Let me hear them.

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Nice thinking. Most of what you say doesn't seem to far fetched, except maybe for the space needle.

What kind of establishments would you like come to Hartford? I was just thinking that a House of Blues would go great down near Front street on the river. Hartford needs to reclaim the waterfront more. Put some shops and place to eat on the river. Use it!!!! How about a Marina? A House of Blues would look great on the river for some good food and music. It would fit right in with the whole Southern vibe thing considering it would be on water.

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those are some great ideas MV. I also like how they seem to be very realistic, as Uconn99 pointed out. I will elaborate more on how I feel specifically about you're ideas when I have some more time to commit.

As for me, I'll give a quick rundown of things I'd like to change/build if I could pull a couple billion dollars out of my @ss. :)

1. HIGHWAYS: A. I would relocate I-91 to the East Hartford side of the River and open up access to the CT river in Hartford from the Founders Bridge to the Charter Oak Bridge

B. I would dismantle and bury a small section of I-84 as it crosses past downtown and Asylum Hill, which would result in a new connection between the two neighborhoods. With the highway underground, I would completely change the look of Asylum Ave from where it leaves the train station to The Hartford Insurance Company Headquarters. Premlim plans call for coffee shops with sidewalk seating, a few restaurants, and about 500 apartments/condos.

Unfortunatetly I have to go now, but I will finish up my list tomorrow or the next day.

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Well, I really didn't mention any commercial stuff except for the Constitution College part, so I'll address that. A nice Borders downtown, with a College bookstore would be great. Also, while I'm hesitant to say I'd put a Starbucks down there, it would fit in. At least it wouldn't close at 5PM like the one on Trumbull Street used to...

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Bury I-91 after the the the exit for the Charter Oak Bridge on I-91N and then have it above ground after the north meadows.

Constituion College sounds like a great idea. UCONN School of Business is already thriving at the site. Allow University of Hartford, Trinity, Saint Josephs College, UCONN West Hartord, UCONN School of Law, Wesleyan, and Manchester Community College to offer classes there and offer housing. Or make a campus for one whole school (Goodwin College???). Great dorm space at the Clarion could even offer broadcasting courses at WFSB.

Remodel the South End (Maple Avenue, Franklin Avenue, and Wethersfield Avenue) so they are more pedestrian friendly. Also make it have more of a Little Italy flair since so many Italian bakeries are there (Modern Pastry, Mozzicato-DePasquale, South End Bakery, etc.)

Something needs to be done at the MassMutual site. Headquarters for a major corporation, housing, mixed use development....

Monorail great idea or even some sort of subway system like the T in Boston so the city can become less car dependent.

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There are so many things that Hartford can do to physically improve itself. Hartford already has amazing potential. No metro areas of the same size has the amount of big business, salaries, history or educated population that the Hartford area has. Here are a few items on my wishlist:

1. I would bury 91 North from the South Meadows to the North Meadows. I would then connect Dowtown back to the riverwalk on top of a flood wall that could withstand the rising CT river. You would be able to walk along the river which would probably be 10 to 20 ft below you. It would look very European.

2. Build a light rail sytem. Maybe then we could get rid of all these awful surface parking lots.

3. Develop two major locations: A residential area along Capital Ave from the Capitol down to Main St. and the area downtown north of 84.

4. Discourage Hartford from continuing to be a social services center. The plentiful money from the suburbs will never come back in full force and the city of Hartford will never cease being one of the poorest cities in the US when you make handouts a way of life. This 40 year exercise has failed miserably.

5. Invite Steve Wynn into town again...

6. Bring the Park River back above ground and incorporate some kind of marina in the Sheldon Charter Oak are between the Colt Building and downtown.

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This Park River project has been mentioned a few times. Are there any renderings out there showing how it might look, or a good map showing where it is? If someone has some information and renderings and such on it, please start a new thread on it, I think it's a great idea and deserves it's own thread to discuss.

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The Park River idea was one that I broached here a few days ago, but forgot to include it in my little plan here, nice pick-up, Luca. Also, the Capitol Ave idea is another great one that I've heard bandied around. Doesn't someone already have the rights to that? And what the hell is taking them so long?

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Brownstones similar to the ones in Boston's Back Bay should be built on the surface parking lots by the Bushnell and State office buildings

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Phil Schonberger owns the land between Bushnell Park and Buckingham Street. His intent is to build a mix of retail and housing to compliment the existing architecture in the neighborhood. His plan includes two aprtment towers on Bushnell Park separated by West St.

Considering it took about 7 years to get his Sage Allen project to where it is today and the fact that he never got Renaissance Place off the drawing board, I wouldn't expect anything anytime soon.

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I too would like to see Hartford get a light rail system. It could even be diesel-powered like the one that runs in NJ from Trenton to Camden or the Ottawa O-train.

I like the idea of brownstones. Boston's (and other cities') brownstones are really nice and they have that feeling of inviting you in. They would certainly wortk in Hartford.

I'd also like to see riverfront retail establishments and a supermarket downtown. Maybe even Channel 30 could take over Channel 3's current location when they leave for Rocky Hill.

I also like the idea of a House of Blues in downtown Hartford and defintely an ESPN Zone or Hard Rock Cafe would work there too. I like marinas too. Having one where the Park and Connecticut Rivers meet would be really nice.

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Isnt there a new restaurant called the Russel where the Bar With No Name was on the corner of Pratt and Trumball also. (Looks good)

Dont forget Thursday August 25, 2005 10:30AM Grand Opening Ceramonies at the Marriott Hartford Hotel.

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The Russell is where ZuZu's used to be (corner of Pratt and Trunbull). Bar with No Name is on the corner of Asylum and Trumbull, one block south.

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The Russell is where ZuZu's used to be (corner of Pratt and Trunbull).  Bar with No Name is on the corner of Asylum and Trumbull, one block south.

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I ate there a couple weeks ago (The Russel). It's a nice little place that should do very well. They have a small menu, but some very good deserts. The only problem was that there was this piss drunk guy who kept coming into the restuarant and bothering the customers. He claimed to be a friend of Hugh Russell (the owner), but he wouldn't shutup or let us eat. I was literally about to stomp him until Hugh came over and realized he was bothering us, and promptly kicked him out. I'll never forget that guy, he was a nightmare.

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BTW I think there is a new sushi spot on Asylum called Koji and there is a banner for a new upscale chinese place called Feng where the old one used to be on Asylum next to Bar With No Name. Things really are starting to look vibrant down there if you ask me.  :thumbsup:

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The owners of Koji are actually opening two places in Hartford. The place on Asylum Street is a sake bar featureing over 100 sakes, plus a lite Japanese menu. I stopped by last night, and one of the owners, Twong(sp??), was nice enough to show me the place and the menu. This spot should be open for business next week or soon after. The other place is on the corner of Main and Pratt. That is going to be a full menu Japanese restaurant featuring roof top dinning. Currently, the schedule is 4 months from now.

Two more restuarants that are coming to the same area. A Quizno is under construction on Main Street, it is next to the roof top dinning Koji. A humongous Irish pub is going into the old Society for Savings building. This will be the largest Irish pub in New England. Now, if we can just get rid of that Burger King put something really cool there...

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The owners of Koji are actually opening two places in Hartford. The place on Asylum Street is a sake bar featureing over 100 sakes, plus a lite Japanese menu. I stopped by last night, and one of the owners, Twong(sp??), was nice enough to show me the place and the menu. This spot should be open for business next week or soon after. The other place is on the corner of Main and Pratt. That is going to be a full menu Japanese restaurant featuring roof top dinning. Currently, the schedule is 4 months from now.

Two more restuarants that are coming to the same area. A Quizno is under construction on Main Street, it is next to the roof top dinning Koji. A humongous Irish pub is going into the old Society for Savings building. This will be the largest Irish pub in New England. Now, if we can just get rid of that Burger King put something really cool there...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's great news. I heard that there would be a restaurant with rooftop dining. That's a great idea. I actually think there is a need for nice fast food spots downtown. Some people need stuff quick and to go from a menu they have memorized. Let Burger King stay and reopen Wendy's somewhere. There's plenty of other spots for more upscale stuff. Plus the Downtown BK and MC D's do way to much business to ever even think about closing. We need everything we can get. A Popeye's or KFC would not be bad downtown either IMO.

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Haynes Street

I would extend Haynes Street to Bushnell Park. The retail of Asylum Street and the Goodwin Hotel could be better connected with the park. I would also extend Hicks Street so that it runs from Ann Street to Trumbull, opposite the Trumbull Centre apartments. These two streets would intersect in the middle of one of Hartford's superblocks, bordered by Ann, Pearl,Trumbull and Jewel Streets. This block, which includes the SBC building, 55 Trumbull and some surface parking would be divided into quarters.

The SBC building fills most of the northeast quadrant. I would like to see a building run up against the concrete wall on the west side of this building, fronting on Haynes Street. It could be office, residential, hotel, whatever the market needs.....just as long as the ground floors encourage animation.

The 55 Trumbull Apartments take up the entire southeast quadrant. I would re-open the Trumbull Street entrance, whether it be an entry for the residents or a retail store or restaurant.

The southwest quadrant is surface parking for 55 Trumbull. On this block I would erect a 20 story apartment building. This structure would be built above an underground garage accommodating parking for all four quadrants.

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SBC would never give up that parking lot unless a lot of money was involved. Also, the cable vault for most of the phone lines in the city run under that lot (and below 55 on the Park, but they gave that up, so who knows).

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I'm curious as to how Hartford became the insurance capital of America. What, where and how attracted so many insurance companies to the city?

Ask, and ye shall receive.

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Its funny you ask this, because I just read about it the other day.

At the end of the 1800's, insurance companies in Hartford began buying out the policies of large businesses in New York City whose polices were being bankrupted by shady New York insurers. Hartford companies quickly got a name for quality and standing by their word. It got to the point where large businesses would ONLY do business with Hartford Insurance industry which in turn began to boom and resulted in the Insurance City nickname. The Hartford, Aetna, Phoenix, Travelers, Connecticut General (now Cigna) and Connecticut Mutual (now Mass Mutual) all became giants in the Insurance industry at this time.

While its great for the well being of the economy (A city the size of Hartford is truly blessed to be the home of 6 fortune 500 companies), being the center of the insurance world has its drawbacks - the conservative nature of the finance and insurance industry permeates all of society here. Its too bad ESPN never felt it advantageous to move a few miles down 84 to downtown Hartford.

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Ya know what I would do if I had the money to fund it....I'd build the two residential towers that were planned for Meeting House Square on site 12B.

I'd buy back the Whalers and build them a state-of-the-art arena in the vacant lot where that brick factory burnt down months back....right next to the highway.

I'd like to see something built on the vacant lot where Metro Center 2 was proposed so I'd persuade a high profile company to move their Corporate Headquaters to Hartford.

I'd build the proposed idea a new bus station, gothic style hotel, and 12-18 story office buildings over what would be the newly underground section of 84.

I'd dig up the Park River and build the marina that had been talked about in someone else's response to this.

Side topic.....does anyone have or know where I could find rendering of these buildings because I've never seen them before? If you anyone has any information it would be very much appreciated.

1000 Main St.

Lafayette Plaza

Linden Towers

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An arena would never fit on that lot, Taylor, it's too narrow. At least, according to my memory it is. There are, however, quite a few lots along Capitol Ave that could house such an Arena, in that same general area, too....

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