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The Voice of Reason

Hartfords barren sea of parking

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So, Hartford has a well documented sea of parking lots.

I think it is universally accepted that these parking lots are bad. bad for the cities image, bad for crime, bad for the tax base, bad for walkability concerns etc...

So as a city I think It is important to look at where we are now, where we came from, and where we are going.

on Hartford.org, there is a statment of how Hartford has 45 parking lots and garages downtown. The satement is done as a positive as in there is plenty of parking spaces, some of them free. As people interested in development and the urban environment, 45 parking lots is a scary scary number.

VICTORY!

Parking lots from a decade ago that are now gone

Adrians Landing 33 acres

This area of downtown was the largest sea of parking in Hartford for quite a while. The area was so large that the state felt the need to get involved, and after a decade of work we are almost done filling in all the blanks. Many people can say it was money wasted, many people can complain about how individual parts are failures, or will fail. The fact is, however that Hartford now has a Convention Center, a 400 room Marriott, a major Science center museum, and a major retail/entertainment district where once just a parking lot sat. 33 acres of asphalt gone

Aetna Flower St garage ~2 acres

Aetna built a 1200 space garage on a surface parking lot

not as sexy as Adrians Landing, but eliminating a surface parking lot that once held about 200 cars, and at the same time eliminating the need for another ~6 acres of surface parking

Trumbull on the park

turned a downtown parkfront parking lot into a residential building and a Hidden parking garage

Morgan Street Garage

8 story 2250 space parking garage or surface parking lot?

Parking garage is a big winner for me. the fact that it has retail space that is largely unleased is a little sad, but maybe as the city continues to fix its decade old problems, this too will change. But it is after all retail in a parking garage, thats a fundamental change right there!

Inventory of the great parking seas of Hartford

NoDo- you gotta love it when you can call an entire district a sea of parking.

IMG_2004.jpgIMG_2003.jpg

1000 Main Street

.67 Acres

Sheldon and Prospect

Hudson and Elm

Both sides of West street and the massive Capitol Ave parking field

Capitol and Broad

The entire Conn Mutual campus now part of the Hartfords campus being turned into parking

The entire Hartford group campus

Spruce Street/Union Station

Myrtle Street lot between train tracks

Union Place and Allyn Street

Asylum St and Ann corner lot

Old Hilton Lot

Jewwll St lot next to 55 on the park

Metro Center II

Across Ann from Metro Center II

Park and Main N

Park and Main S

Sheldon and Taylor

Taylor and Charter Oak

N Meadows

Park and Main S

This may not be a complete list, and I know its not as detail filled as I would like it to be, but I think its important that we watch these lots, since Hartfords future lies in them. Hartfords potential is evident in them.

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Not suprisingly, I have a plan to fix much of the problem areas.

I know this is typical VOR day-dreaming, but with Adrians landing winding down, I think Hartford is up for another deal breaker of a development scheme.

Given that Hartford needs more housing downtown, and demand has remained high even in this deep recession.

Given that many people shy away from downtown housing because its not quite "lived in" enough so it seems a little scary as an urban frontier

Given that many of the parking lots would make ideally located downtown housing.

How about we do a mostly privately funded urban renewal project. YAY!!!!!

I think that if there were 5 condo towers in downtown Hartford with say 200 units each, the way people from Glastonbury, Avon, and Simsbury view Hartford would completely change for the better. It would not be a frontier, and a merket would surely be open.

I think that if there were 10 condo towers in downtown Hartford, The city would be able to hire 100 more police and further clean up the image clearing the way for retail in the CBD. The numper of people living downtown would make the city seem alive into the evening and many people in the area would know someone living downtown and even visit from time to time.

I think that if there were 15 condo towers in downtown Hartford, It would be concidered hip and cool to live downtown, and this would lead to corporations moving to the area. The variety of Housing options would mean that there was something for everyone.

I think that if there were 20 condo towers in downtown Hartford, the suburban culture of greater Hartford would be defeated, and the development path of the city would more closely resemble Toronto rather than Houston. Retail would be plentiful, and the 3 story multi-family neighborhoods N, S and W of the CBD would revitalize reconnecting the city as it was ment to be. Hartford would establish itself as a vibrant urban center

How does a city get 5, 10, 15 or 20 residential buildings built in a relatively short ammount of time?

I call it Hartford 20/20 My thought is that if you could build 20 residential buildings of 20 stories by 2020, It would be fairly safe to say that the future of the city would be sound. Mind you I do not think anyone wants commie blocks all 20 floors high. so really its just convenient to say 20 stories. Ultimately I think that 400 floors of residential development in downtown Hartford should be the goal. Also a goal of a set # of new units would work.

I know this is completely impossible right?

nahh, its not.

I made a list of the 20 largest employers in Hartford that actually may not be accurate at all, but I also ended up with well more than 20 major employers.

If at the begining you get the absolute 5-10 largest together, and they each agreed to allow a presentation of the master plan to their employees, and the insurance and banking companies agreed to finance the project if enough workers were interested, something would happen.

You see my wife told me she would not live downtown right now, and I can not blame her. She added that she would love to live downtown if there were more people downtown, if there was a grocery store, and there was some shopping. I think my wifes point of view is simular to much of central CT. She would move downtown if 5 buildings like Hartford 21 existed she told me after I pressed further. She would likely only do that for me, mind you, and she would still need the grocery and some more retail than currently exists. I think ideally she needs more like 10 buildings on the scale of H-21. Also she would only do so in a condo and not rent in an apartment. I would only buy as well.

I have more to add, and will do so later from home. but I have a map to assist, and well, I think when I post more details later yo guys might see how this would work and how it would fundamentally change downtown Hartford for the better.

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OK, so I have forgotten to post my additional stuff, so I will give it a shot today.

In Toronto they build apartment and condo towers like Phoenix builds subdivisions. In Toronto they also have simular weather concerns as we do here in Hartford, so stealing a few designs from Toronto....

Why not build something like this

4f0f6a33-df28-404d-a642-011652ff8a7e_commPhoto.jpg

A building like this, as plain as it may appear would be a great asset in Hartfords downtown.

This building, Couture, has some very affordable units relative to Toronto, and could provide a huge boost in downtown population using a relatively small footprint. Bringing young professionals into the city will make it more attractive to the older more established buyers.

Mind you this building is 44 stories so it would likely be Hartfords tallest, and contains 459 Units.

This is not exactly what I was thinking about for Hartford 20/20 but It would be up to the developers involved, and of cours the interested buyers as to what would be the most attractive.

There are also plenty of places where a building like this

<A href=" target=_blank>18ee3ce6-f413-49ad-a807-626d214c9d92_commPhoto.jpg

could add housing and parking and also put retail into the mix.

Legacy at Heron's Hill is 25 Storeys with and adjacent 5 storey mid rise building

254 units in the tower with 88 in the podium.

I think that using that much land is less than ideal however and would prefer to have to buildings on a lot as large as Matro Center II

A great look for Hartford would be buildings with fairly small footprints

356184e4-3edf-46dd-949c-758a9c7286bf_commPhoto.jpg

VIBE at Liberty Village

24 storey 315 unit

rising from a six storey brick and glass podium featuring retail space, recreational facilities and residential suites.

For larger lots

buildings_400.jpg

Republic Toronto Condos

24 floor 166 units and 27 floors 282 units

Even though I just gave several examples, they are just the tip of the iceberg, because with the choosing of the locations and land acquisition I think it would be important to leave several key large parcels out of the Hartford 20/20 project so they can be developed by whomever, however is deemed best.

Example parcels not included would be the Chase Parkview Hilton Lot, the YMCA parcel, 180 Allyn Street (the main parking lot excluding the section nect to Agave), The parking lot for the Bushnall/state offices, Much of NODO

I looked at all of the downtown lots that are on the smaller side, and that would "complete" their surroundings first because I think that the most progress could be made in the shortest ammount of time if the buildings were done in concentrations, and were done as extentions of what we have, not as an attempt to build an entirely new area up.

So take the first batch of buildings

1000 Main Street

40 Asylum Street (next to Mkinnons)

Front Street 1

Front Street 2

Jewell/Hicks Street

Of these 5, the only one that is fairly complex would be 40 Asylum because to do it right the antire parking lot would need to be developed at once by building underground parking and a 5 story pedestal with retail on the ground floor etc. the residential tower can be built, while the larger part of the lot fronting Main street can be designed to have the pedestal functional while making a future Office/Hotel/Residential tower a Phase II.

Ultimately these 5 projects would fill in all or most all of the "holes" in the downtown core. These projects would also pump residents into areas that currently have people living and amenities in place building on what we have.

The next 5 locations or honestly they could be the first 5 would be centered around 180 Allyn Street.

272 Asylum is begging to be turned into a condo tower

Allyn Street next to Agave

High Street between Allyn and Church

Allyn Street behind Black Eyed Sallys

and Union place across from Up or on the Rocks

These 5 locations would create a dense residential area in the heart of the cities entertainment district. There would be park views on upper floors, and easy access to the train station. The reason these might work better first is the coming NH-H-S commuter line. Think about all the people coming off of trains and walking through a vibrant area to their office.

I am guessing 180 Allyn St should still become an office tower to keep it a little mixed up especially after transit makes the land more valuable.

Surrounded by 5 new buildings and several older conversions people would be flocking to live downtown.

I think these 10 locations would make it nearly impossible for the YMCA and Chase peoperties to remain empty, so I am guessing many high end and empty nester types will be lured to those two park front locations. I would also assume that a few other smaller projects might kick off to take advantage of the new energy downtown.

The next batch of locations that would have a major impact would build off of Front Street..

Sheldon and Prospect

Elm and Hudson

Sheldon and Taylor (next to candycane building)

Sheldon and Taylor (across Taylor from candycane)

East river drive E-Hartford N of Rt 2 on the water

East river drive E-Hartford N of Rt 2 next to Sheraton

South of Riverpoint condo

The next cluster

Capitol and Broad next to Hartford Courant

Flower St behind Hartford Courant

Broad and Farmington looking down on the park

Cogswell and Asylum

YWCA site (not a parking lot, but it would make the area much more viable)

Garden and Spring Street

Capitol West (might as well be a parking lot)

this part of the city has so many potential locations its just plain silly.

I would also be sure that the former location of Plaza Mayor were included in this scheme.

Main and Park N

Main and Park S

MAP

Hartford2020a.jpg

The purple lots are mentioned in my 20/20 plan

the pink are lots that would be left to develop outside the plan because they are the most strategic large parcels in the city

I know I have not really explained how I would make this work fully, but that will flow out here eventually. clearly this idea is still fairly fledgling

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too bad you're not a developer, or connected to one

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How do you finance 20 condo towers over 10 years?

in this current econemy, you need backing.

I am assuming a cost of something like 2 billion. I am getting this figure from my rectum combined with the cost of hartford 21, then making it a bit cheaper by negotiating bulk contracts, and by eliminating the profiteering of the master developer.

The master developer after all is an entity like CCEDA and not looking to "make money"(this shaves 10% off the cost)

Member organizations would be guaranteed a return on their investment that would not be "greedy", but would be fair. Member organizations would participate because this would help the city, and that means it would be good for their workers. Member organizations would be protected from risk by the size of the master developer and the other member organizaions. Construction bonds would be sold by the master developer to the member organizations directly. Bonds would be sold to the free market in later phases.

The first phases would only need certain funds run by the Hartford based largest empoyers/financial institutions to invest in these bonds. To further protect investors, the state/city could create a TIF zone that would cherry pick the properties and create a further government backed bonding agency funded by Tax incremental financing of the new buildings. If say at inception there was proven demand for 10 buildings coming frrom the approved employees, construction bonds could be approved by the insurance companies, then the mortgages could be issued by the member banks. Once a building was occupied the construction loan is paid and the bank holds the risk. If need be, the member banks could securitize the mortgages and sell the ABS back to the insurance companies.

I know you may be reading a bunch of terms that makes you think of the excessive risk that caused the recession, but if the Employer and a bank are underwriting the risk of an employee, than the risk is minimal. to put this in plain english. the employee would not recieve a mortgage if he were deemed to be a risk by his own employer. Its kind of like getting a mortgage through a bank, but your boss is co-signing on the mortgage. and the city and state are also there for support if you come up a little short.

The banks could choose to hold the mortgages as well. They would be fairly low return loans, but they would also be fairly highly rated since the development would be boosted by the TIF, the semi public development agency etc...

With the first 5 buildings, say there are a total of 1000 units. the innitial construction investment would be say 500Million for that various funds run by the insurance companies, this would be a pittance to swollow. it even could be done on a company by company basis. Tavelers has 375 employees interested, approved and signed on for buying and moving downtown, so Travelers puts up the construction loans for 188M. Phoenix has 45, Aetna 300, The Hartford 280. 500M is raised and construction begins. a year later as the buildings are halfway built, the next 5 building designs are released and put up for sale. Cigna, ING ,Prudential, Uunted Health all throw their money behind the next wave. Companies like UTC and Oakleaf Waste would be involves as well, but they would have to finance things differently. I am not exactly sure how, but by being involved and providing employees interested in buying to the mix, the master developer is only stronger, and the financial risk taken by the insurance companies and banks is lessened.

So obviously, in the end, money has to come from the consumer, and the consumer here is you and me.

the buyers.

Why would 1000 people buy downtown all at once? Well, being a student of human nature I bet my life that 1000 people buy all at once simply because 999 other people are doing it(lemmings). Luckily I wont have to take that bet because 1000 people will also buy downtown because there is a pent up demand. the only thing keeping people from buying condos downtown is that there are very very very few condos as of right now (Riverpoint, Bushnell, 266Pearl, and the Linden) only one is fairly new, but it is also fairly expensive. So many people come to hartford and ask, what are the best condos to live in... and they get crickets. If 5 new buildings were built with

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The problem is this: the politicians that could get this moving are simply not interested in the helping the city. They are interested in maintaining the status quo so they can hand out their parking contracts to their political backers. That is the problem, it's been the problem, and it will remain the problem for the foreseeable future.

That being said, surface parking is probably the single biggest waste of space in a city. Wait, let me correct that, the single biggest waste of space is putting nonsense where the lot used to be, like Front Street. A one story ( or two, whatever) suburban shopping experience in a major city downtown is worthless in my opinion. Surface parking is a very close second though. The city has zero interest in remedying this problem, otherwise it would be remedied already....

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Well, one can think that way. Sure, its no coincidence that 3 of the nations largest parking operators are Hartford based.

but part of the strength of those status quo politicians is that veil of privacy that they currently enjoy.

If in the private sector with simple agreements to participate in principle from Aetna, The Hartford, and Travelers, you would have enough backing to go out and sign a few options on property.

If you were to sign an option on the 180 Allyn Street property, you would secure 3 building locations I have outlined. If you went after the two other small lots near by you whould have that entire 5 building cluster I outlined.

180 Allyn streets land is worth maybe 8 million

the other two lots maybe a million or 1.5 each.

so with options on 11 million worth of land you could take the idea public, and with an idea like this public and backed by a few of the larger employers, it would be extremely easy to overpower the local political norms with their own home and greed. imagine handing out parking garage contracts vs parking lot contracts.... OHHHHHHH

to cary the thought a moment further, from those first 5 buildings and 11 mill in property, getting Northland on Board as well as Konover would be easy. you give them each dibs on a building or 2 out of the first 5 in exchange for development rights to the Metro center II property as well as The Main street lot, or the Oak street lots from Konover.

these guys would benefit most from this working. Like I wrote earlier, with mid level housing doing well, Northlands YMCA tower would likely be a much better success, and the entire Northland portfolio would gain value.

Konover would be able to develop any of their gobs of land, and make a killing on the Bushnell parking lot.

I have no idea what the cost would be for options on 11 Million worth of land would be, but certainly low enough for a property connected individual to take the risk.

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Until Perez is booted from office, I can't see any of these proposals even coming to blueprint.

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Well, one can think that way. Sure, its no coincidence that 3 of the nations largest parking operators are Hartford based.

but part of the strength of those status quo politicians is that veil of privacy that they currently enjoy.

If in the private sector with simple agreements to participate in principle from Aetna, The Hartford, and Travelers, you would have enough backing to go out and sign a few options on property.

If you were to sign an option on the 180 Allyn Street property, you would secure 3 building locations I have outlined. If you went after the two other small lots near by you whould have that entire 5 building cluster I outlined.

180 Allyn streets land is worth maybe 8 million

the other two lots maybe a million or 1.5 each.

so with options on 11 million worth of land you could take the idea public, and with an idea like this public and backed by a few of the larger employers, it would be extremely easy to overpower the local political norms with their own home and greed. imagine handing out parking garage contracts vs parking lot contracts.... OHHHHHHH

to cary the thought a moment further, from those first 5 buildings and 11 mill in property, getting Northland on Board as well as Konover would be easy. you give them each dibs on a building or 2 out of the first 5 in exchange for development rights to the Metro center II property as well as The Main street lot, or the Oak street lots from Konover.

these guys would benefit most from this working. Like I wrote earlier, with mid level housing doing well, Northlands YMCA tower would likely be a much better success, and the entire Northland portfolio would gain value.

Konover would be able to develop any of their gobs of land, and make a killing on the Bushnell parking lot.

I have no idea what the cost would be for options on 11 Million worth of land would be, but certainly low enough for a property connected individual to take the risk.

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Do you know all of that, or just speculating? We can assume Parking lot X is worth $8 mill, but what if they are asking for $15 mill? Perhaps you know more about this than I do, I certainly don't know much, but I personally would assume that the land leeches are asking way over the rate for their lots, and the reason being they are making a killing on the parking.

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Until Perez is booted from office, I can't see any of these proposals even coming to blueprint.

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Why do even post here when you never have anything but irrational nonsense to say?

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I hope your not this dense in person? You've must of gotten beat up a lot in your younger years, but anyways with a corrupt Mayor like Perez how are any of these proposals ever gonna see the light of day? He taxing the city away and alienating businesses and people. All these propsals sound good, but until the people elect a pro-growth Mayor, then what's the point?

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A minor update on one of the city's worst parking lots.

The latest Hartford Magazine had an interview with the Bushnell's Executive Director. He mentioned that the Institute of American Architects had completed a design for them for the Capitol Ave lot. He said that we should "expect to hear something soon." Who knows if this will amount to anything or if it will be the rowhouse plan redux, but at least someone is trying to do something there.

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A minor update on one of the city's worst parking lots.

The latest Hartford Magazine had an interview with the Bushnell's Executive Director. He mentioned that the Institute of American Architects had completed a design for them for the Capitol Ave lot. He said that we should "expect to hear something soon." Who knows if this will amount to anything or if it will be the rowhouse plan redux, but at least someone is trying to do something there.

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A minor update on one of the city's worst parking lots.

The latest Hartford Magazine had an interview with the Bushnell's Executive Director. He mentioned that the Institute of American Architects had completed a design for them for the Capitol Ave lot. He said that we should "expect to hear something soon." Who knows if this will amount to anything or if it will be the rowhouse plan redux, but at least someone is trying to do something there.

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I went to the planning dept today for the design review board meeting (that was canceled) so I could see the 901 Main plans.

after being let down, I asked the guy that talked to me about this "development"

they have no plans but there was a meeting so, I guess there is "something" in the works.

very low level of course still

so, no one should get their hopes up at all

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