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Bill Mocarsky

Downtown Hartford's next frontier

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On the east, we imagine a city being connected to the Connecticut River.

On the west, imagine a city being connected to the city.

In a nutshell:

Opening Up The City

is a vision to transform a disjointed section of Hartford (which happens to be its geographical center) into a gateway to the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Some highlights:

  • Roundabout replaces signals at confusing intersection.

  • Promenade gently slopes down from Asylum Hill toward the foot of Capitol Hill.

  • Park River meanders through Bushnell Park.

  • Frederick Law Olmsted Way offers a finishing touch to the western edge of the park.

  • State Armory and Legislative Building are integrated with the park.

bushnellparkwest.gif

This animated image features the old Hartford Fire Insurance Building on Asylum Avenue. It was taken from the Capitol Grounds, looking to the northwest.

nwanimation.gif

The next animation features the State Capitol Building. It was taken in the interior of the block. In the foreground, the Park River is rendered in.

seanimation.gif

I know some of you are familiar with the site. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some recent updates.

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GregV    0

This is a spectacular vision for a much needed improvement of a very uninviting area downtown. Have you shown this to any city planners?

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beerbeer    6

Bill,

This is one idea I don't get. For the cost of burying I-84 you could afford a metro wide transportation system.

If the bridge over 84 proved anything, it was that the highway didn't cut off anything. No development followed. Hartford needs to develop the core of the city. Then it will naturally expand beyond those physical boundries.

Front Street is the next step for Hartford. The step after that, IMHO, is developing the West End or Parkville epi-centers to their full potential. Both are on the cusp of havng enough critical mass to really become major urban centers inside the city boundries.

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GregV,

I have circulated the idea a few years ago. I sense people are starting to understand the issues here more than say, 5 years ago.

beerbeer,

If the bridge over 84 proved anything, it was that the highway didn't cut off anything. No development followed.
That is so true. The platform between Trumbull and Main Streets is a very disfunctional space. It would be better to have a building instead of a plaza. The park above does not improve the flow from one side to the other. I don't see the highway as being much of an obstacle north of downtown for 2 reasons.
  1. It is below grade

  2. It doesn't break up the street grid

The buffer north of downtown is the several blocks of surface parking.

Hartford needs to develop the core of the city.

I would like to think that Bushnell Park and the State Capitol are very much in the core of the city - in the way that the Boston Common/Public Gardens are to Boston.

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beerbeer    6

Bill,

When I talk about the core of the city, I mean the space between the HCC and the train station. It is a series of surface parking lots. There are more empty lots then there are buildiings. As long as that land is unused and available, developing out side the existing downtown is less attractive.

If you go one block south of the Bushnell Park, once again there are multiple completely empty acres. Filling in these types of spaces requires no expensive rearrangement of existing infrastructure. I believe these parcels are underappreciated and undervalued.

Instead of spending a ton on massive infrastructure rearrangement, I believe making use of the existing empty parcels should be a priority.

Your ideas are interesting but why couldn't they be more intergrated in the existing infrastructure, say, south of Bushnell Park?

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When I talk about the core of the city, I mean the space between the HCC and the train station. It is a series of surface parking lots. There are more empty lots then there are buildiings. As long as that land is unused and available, developing out side the existing downtown is less attractive.

As you head west from the HCC, it gets seedier. I wish it was more attractive to developers. I believe that with No Man's Land in its current state, the potential of the areas abutting it will be limited.

If you go one block south of the Bushnell Park, once again there are multiple completely empty acres. Filling in these types of spaces requires no expensive rearrangement of existing infrastructure. I believe these parcels are underappreciated and undervalued.

Instead of spending a ton on massive infrastructure rearrangement, I believe making use of the existing empty parcels should be a priority.

Your ideas are interesting but why couldn't they be more intergrated in the existing infrastructure, say, south of Bushnell Park?

The area south of Bushnell Park doesn't have the same issues as with No Man's Land. The infrastructure is fine - its ready to go. I think things will fall into place in SODO in a future wave of development.

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ctman    0

what you referr to as no mans land actually was the hotspot for development in the late 80's with those surface lots the marker of buildings that made it to the demo phase. the problem now is 2 fold 1) getting businesses to commit to hartford - something prudential is looking to stepup to do and 2) getting the parking monopoly to release it's stranglehold on downtown. If i see another LAZ parking lot....

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Hiramicus    0

I think buring 84 is a great idea. I work at aetna and it's a shame that asylum hill is cut off from downtown - three major employers are there (ING, Aetna, and the Hartford). I think the development around Artspace would be really attractive, especially if it had some neat restaurants, which would be a great boon for employees on Asylum hill.

ctman - why is the parking monopoly a bad thing? I really had no idea about it nor do i know how it works economically.

i also think it would be neat to connect the asulum avenue exit to the whitehead highway via a tunnel under bushnell.

http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/i484.html

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