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superstudlyhunk

Development in North End.. about time

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RETAIL BUILDING PROPOSED;

DEVELOPER WANTS NORTH END SITEJOSH KOVNER; Courant Staff WriterMIDDLETOWN --

Developer Peter Harding wants to build a $3.2 million, three-story, retail and office building with a 72-car parking lot at Main and Liberty streets, replacing a vacant gas station and a building that was once a Methodist church and then a residence.

The common council has approved spending $460,000 in public funds to develop that site.

Some city residents would like to see the former church preserved, and Councilman David Bauer has questioned why the city didn't solicit proposals from other developers.

City Planner William Warner said Harding's plan would be the most substantial commercial development in the North End in decades.

The economic development commission on Monday night asked Harding to submit a detailed development plan that spells out his partnership with the city. The panel would vote on the plan in May, and the council would take up the matter in June.

Before Harding approached Warner with his plan, the city had taken steps to acquire both properties. The city has a sale contract with the owners of the former church and residence, and is moving to obtain the gas station through eminent domain.

Harding has a separate agreement to buy the gas station and said he intends to go through with the purchase, knowing that if the council doesn't approve his plan, he could lose the gas station property to the city for less than he paid for it.

Warner said that if Harding was out of the picture, the city would board up the two properties and seek to use federal funds to develop the site, a process that could take two years.

Harding's plan features a building with retail on the first floor and a lighted, paved parking lot, Warner said. It would provide much-needed public parking and could spur other development in the area, he said.

Councilman Gerald Daley, chairman of the economic development commission, said he ``hasn't closed the door'' on supporting a relocation of the former church, at 9 Liberty St. Harding said that moving the building might prove too expensive.

Warner said the building is in a historic district and the city should be prepared to show state preservation officials that it has looked into ways to save the structure.

``That's something that would still have to be investigated,'' Warner said.

Bauer said Harding's plan seems like a good one, but he was surprised the city hadn't sent out a general request for proposals to developers.

Daley told Bauer that he agreed in principle with his point about seeking competing proposals for projects, but said Harding approached the city and was prepared to make a sizable investment in the North End.

Harding said he already had prospective tenants for the building, including an established city retailer that needs a new location.

Harding, who recently announced his retirement as director of the St. Vincent dePaul food pantry and shelter, is the developer of the Riverview office complex at Main and Court streets.

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It is great that developers are starting to look to the north end but sadly this proposal includes a lighted parking lot...hope we dont create sprawl in the middle of the north end. Id hate to see a repeat situation of what happened when CarMichaels was knocked down in the south end and replaced with a suburban CVS.

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It is great that developers are starting to look to the north end but sadly this proposal includes a lighted parking lot...hope we dont create sprawl in the middle of the north end. Id hate to see a repeat situation of what happened when CarMichaels was knocked down in the south end and replaced with a suburban CVS.

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It is great that developers are starting to look to the north end but sadly this proposal includes a lighted parking lot...hope we dont create sprawl in the middle of the north end. Id hate to see a repeat situation of what happened when CarMichaels was knocked down in the south end and replaced with a suburban CVS.

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Not to be a downer on proposals for Hartford, but I believe he is talking about the northend of Middletown

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I think it's funny that the article never mentions Middletown at any point.

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Not to be a downer on proposals for Hartford, but I believe he is talking about the northend of Middletown

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I think it's funny that the article never mentions Middletown at any point.

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