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IN PROGRESS: Front Street @ Adriaen's Landing

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The state is giving twenty million dollars so suburbia can be recreated in downtown Hartford.

It's pathetic. They are fools. Incompetent, worthless imbeciles.

Edited by Chessplayer

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Yeah, I saw this last night in the HBJ and well, I cant blame ESPN at all. I want nothing to do with this development! Why would ESPN bother with a strip mall?

I am absolutely baffled as to how this project can be proceeding at this point. I mean cant the city stop it with some zoning regulation or something?

how is it that 20 million in public funds is only bringing 10 Million in private financing. 20 million should be able to pull in 40M in private financing.

can anyone come up with a way to make an issue out of this?

letters to the courant letters to the state? letters to the news chanels?

The letters I wrote before fell on deaf years, I feel like something needs to be done.

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i have said in the past here that i don't think housing is important for front street. it might seem that living in an area overrun with drunken partiers from the suburbs and the convention center is desirable. but not to me. i'd rather live around the park and walk over to front street. hartford needs more retail and some different entertainment venues and i was hoping all of this could be at front street. if just that could go up and be successful, i would be happy. maybe it is time for more retail downtown before more will come to live there. with so many empty lots, there is plenty of room elsewhere for housing downtown.

Edited by blackstone

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What entertainment is going to be there? What stores will open in an unproven market in this economy?

Hartford already has a glut of (brand new) retail space; the demand just isn't there.

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Housing is clearly more needed than Retail space. it does not take a market study or any such thing.

There have been something like 2000 new housing units built in the city in recent years. the most recent addition being the American Airlines building on Main street.

These apartments are all quite filled up.

while downtown might not be at 100% capacity in terms of existing apartments, it is certainly very healthy. the only building strugglin for tenants in H-21 because of its high prices. Even H-21 is mostly rented. (75%+)

At the same time there are dozens and dozens of retail spaces that lie vacant. The most attractive streets have vacancies, the most traveled and visable streets have vacancies, and the easiest to access(parking) have vacancies.

so with these obvious truths. Truths we can see with our eyes, why would we build more retail, and not build residential?

This city is CLOSE to the point where retail will return to the city. This project might actually succeed at bringing a few usefull stores and tennants into downtown, but it will not succeed at making Hartford a better place as the pillers were designed. It will not properly leveredge public money. it will fail in so many ways that its successes will be overshadowed.

and even if you want to forget all of the above simple concepts, city centers should NEVER have single story shopping plazas. it destroys the fabric, and urbanity of place.

even if there were office space above this development the city would be better off. at this pace, what is being built will need to be torn down at some point in the future to make way for a more dense more appropriate use of space. its just a complete shame.

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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How did I know this would happen? As soon as I saw examples of Nitkin's prior strip mall work, I knew we were in trouble. Its hard to imagine that Casden Properties was dumped as developer years ago because their plan included TOO MUCH housing. Now this is what we are left with. As soon as the state stepped out of the Front. St. project, things deteriorated quickly.

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If you look at Nitkin's website the only retail projects he has in his portfolio are strip malls and office parks. I didn't see one mixed use project such as what Front Street was supposed to be. Was he even qualified to tackle Front Street in its initial design concept?

With the state kicking in so much free money to Nitkin to make this project viable, you would think the state would have written the contract so that they would have veto power as to what is ultimately built there.

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can't see where 115 units of housing means much. the idea of towers is dead. 230 people are not going to make retailers flock to the site. there is a solid base of nearby office workers, conventioneers, and science center visitors to interest retailers. why would anyone want to live in this district. other than the wadsworth, science center, or riverfront, to get to anything you have to walk blocks through nothing. if i'm living in the city, i want to forget about my car. the idea of this retail area is unique. it can be the largest entertainment district in the state and will have a captured audience. gottesdiener has failed with retail. what does nyberg know about retail? nitkin's business has been mostly strip malls, so he might know more about retail than the other developers. i'm an optimist. if you guys want to complain about the situation, i don't blame you. but i'm going to watch and see what nitkin does. where is that engineering guy who says his company is doing something at constitution plaza? i'd like to hear his take.

Edited by blackstone

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can't see where 115 units of housing means much. the idea of towers is dead. 230 people are not going to make retailers flock to the site. there is a solid base of nearby office workers, conventioneers, and science center visitors to interest retailers. why would anyone want to live in this district. other than the wadsworth, science center, or riverfront, to get to anything you have to walk blocks through nothing. if i'm living in the city, i want to forget about my car. the idea of this retail area is unique. it can be the largest entertainment district in the state and will have a captured audience. gottesdiener has failed with retail. what does nyberg know about retail? nitkin's business has been mostly strip malls, so he might know more about retail than the other developers. i'm an optimist. if you guys want to complain about the situation, i don't blame you. but i'm going to watch and see what nitkin does. where is that engineering guy who says his company is doing something at constitution plaza? i'd like to hear his take.

Blackstone,

115 units does not mean much on its own, but as time goes on and developments happen each 115 unit development meshes with the next to create the kind of vibrancy you speak of. Do driving walk to everything living. single story just does not work. its BS.

I would live at front street if there was a residential building with river views and a nice assortment of retail/entertainment below me. This is the urban ideal. who wouldnt want a sweet view and all the ammenitied needed right below you. and an extremely short walk to Work, Bushnell park, the riverfront park, the Wadsworth, and the Library. An added bonus would be the easy access to the Highways that this site provides for when I want to get out of town.

if these 115 are built you also dont have a throw away building that 20 million of our tax dollars went to build.

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Blackstone,

115 units does not mean much on its own, but as time goes on and developments happen each 115 unit development meshes with the next to create the kind of vibrancy you speak of. Do driving walk to everything living. single story just does not work. its BS.

I would live at front street if there was a residential building with river views and a nice assortment of retail/entertainment below me. This is the urban ideal. who wouldnt want a sweet view and all the ammenitied needed right below you. and an extremely short walk to Work, Bushnell park, the riverfront park, the Wadsworth, and the Library. An added bonus would be the easy access to the Highways that this site provides for when I want to get out of town.

if these 115 are built you also dont have a throw away building that 20 million of our tax dollars went to build.

ok, voice. i hear you. if i worked downtown, that would be different. the hbj said on 10/02 that the site was going to be a 150k sq ft retail and residential project, with 60k for retail and the rest for residential. the article yesterday says it is a 30 million dollar (20/10) retail/entertainment project. i think that is misleading. i don't believe that nitkin is getting 20 mill just to develop one-story retail buildings. the site did not somehow grow larger. can anyone clarify.

Edited by blackstone

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ok, voice. i hear you. if i worked downtown, that would be different. the hbj said on 10/02 that the site was going to be a 150k sq ft retail and residential project, with 60k for retail and the rest for residential. the article yesterday says it is a 30 million dollar (20/10) retail/entertainment project. i think that is misleading. i don't believe that nitkin is getting 20 mill just to develop one-story retail buildings. the site did not somehow grow larger. can anyone clarify.

Based on the renderings we have seen, and the words spread around the plan was for 4 story buildings. Retail at ground level, apartments above. I am fairly certain that retail does not much work on a 2nd floor. 60k SF for retail is pretty small in terms of foot print. so I see single story buildings without the apartments above.

So that being what it is or whatever my biggest contention is that Hartford is settling for less. The State is accepting failure.

I dont give a damn about a single floor retail development in a city. Hell its a city. there should be density. It is my opinion that if there were to be a retail development on Farmington Ave it should be in an Urban design. no where should big box, or even small bog strip malls be built in a city center let alone any urban area.

The greatest failure here was the states inability to let go of controll long ago, and their inability to allow their incentives to work for the city. this parcel has over 70 million in incentives!!! the first winner was rebuked for trying to build too much, or too dense in a city center!!!! I could go off on this for a good hour or two if you want, but there is nothing good to come of that.

the following competitions were either done too quickly or resulted in useless developers winning.

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Seems to me Nitkin is looking to put up as little as possible of his own cash while getting the biggest possible return while the city gets no bang for their buck. There was a time when The Atheneum, ESPN and Brooks Brothers were all committed to this project. Seems like a smaller boutique hotel with retail at the ground floor would work well in this spot too since we are always hearing about a shortage of hotel rooms being the biggest obstacle to drawing conventions.

The convention center has been open 3+ years now and I have to believe that having no amenities to offer convention goers has to hamper marketing efforts for the CC. This project is now a mere shadow of what was first envisioned for this site over 10 years ago. You would think someone would have gotten it right in that amount of time. Its shameful.

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Boy, will that ever look stupid with the top 4 floors hacked off.

http://hbnitkin.com/news/pdf/HartfordCourant_12-15-07.pdf

Maybe they will call it "Flat St."

And, why on his website does he NOT have it under "Space Available"????

http://hbnitkin.com/availabilities.php

Edited by Theophrastus Bombastus

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I agree that a one story center here would be completely out of scale with the rest of the city. I also agree that Nyberg has got a pretty sweet deal going with this and should be held to a higher standard than a strip mall. That said there is not much financing available for offices and residental projects these days. The economy just will not support it. While the state has been poor in handling this, I believe the city is the one that really messed it up. Perez delayed it by refusing to live up to the city's end of the bargain with developers.

Interestingly, this past weekend was the ASSHTO conference which is a national meeting of State Highway Officals from all over the country. The event brought over 600 people to Hartford and was a wonderful success. There were a number of parties and receptions around town as well as exhibitions, seminars and meetings in the Convention Center. I met a number of people from out of state that attended this convention and the RAVED about Hartford. They loved it and said it was by far the best place the conference had been held. They thought they city was very walkable and had a lot of great restaurants not too far from the convention center. They loved visiting Mystic, the Basketball Hall of Fame and the casinos. I was surprised to hear this since we here in CT think these things are too far away to be thought of as part of the Hartford region. Seems like we northeasterners just think that things here are too far away. Jay

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I was running errands around town yesterday and it occurred to me that for those of you wondering what kind of project we are going to get at Front Street need look no further than Sommerset Square, Nitkin's other retail development in the area.

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So what else can we expect besides a dollar store and a Chinese buffet?

How much state taxpayer money did we waste on this stupidity? And when can we elect some fiscal conservatives in this state?

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I was running errands around town yesterday and it occurred to me that for those of you wondering what kind of project we are going to get at Front Street need look no further than Sommerset Square, Nitkin's other retail development in the area.

Honestly at this point, I will be OK with that. For the time being. I want housing there eventually, but if Nitkin can get actual quality national retailers and some decent restaurants it will be better than what is currently there. I still feel like there are more qualified developers out there but whatever.

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So what else can we expect besides a dollar store and a Chinese buffet?

How much state taxpayer money did we waste on this stupidity? And when can we elect some fiscal conservatives in this state?

No money was wasted. Free market forces have determined only new housing developments and chain store strip malls are the only profitable development. Despite the fact that the project did not happen, the fact that government resources were redirected to promote smart growth and urban development instead of sprawl is well worth the black eye. When the market recovers, instead of seeing a new Buckland Mall and more sprawl, the cities of Connecticut will get the projects and funding. Rowland in some ways did a lot of good.

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So what else can we expect besides a dollar store and a Chinese buffet?

How much state taxpayer money did we waste on this stupidity? And when can we elect some fiscal conservatives in this state?

Don't forget the package store and the nail salon....

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FYI....

Construction on Phase I of the Front Street Entertainment and Commercial project is scheduled to begin on Monday, November 3, 2008. This construction will cause some traffic changes that are expected to be in place until the spring of 2010. The traffic changes are as follows:

- Front Street will be closed to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic between Constitution Way and Columbus Boulevard. Arch Street will remain open to traffic and Constitution Way will remain open to provide access to the Front Street-North garage.

- Most of the construction will take place east of Constitution Way. Signs specifying the closure of Front Street and providing direction into the Front Street-North Garage will be placed at Columbus southbound and at the Whitehead Highway-Columbus ramp.

- The sidewalk on the west side of Columbus Boulevard will be closed starting from the corner of Front Street and Columbus down to Arch Street. The sidewalk on Arch Street closest to the construction site up to Constitution Way and on Constitution Way over to Front Street will also be closed. A small area of the corner of Arch and Columbus will remain open for safe crossings. Pedestrians heading towards Main Street may cross Columbus from the Convention Center at Arch Street then use the sidewalk on the south-side of Arch Street. Pedestrians may then access Travelers Plaza via Prospect Street.

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