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The Voice of Reason

Main Streeet South of Travelers

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So, we all know that Hartford has all kinds of quirky areas. One of them is the area South of The gold building and south of Travelers tower heading all the way down to the Linden.

It is such a strange area because the uses are bizzare, and the built environment is equally bizzare.

Besides a historic cemetary and church, there is Bushnell Plaza with its hostile concrete wall facing the pedestrian. Sure it is downtowns largest population center, but its just hostile to the street.

On the East side of the road, there is Travelers Plaza and its concrete wall. the plaza is much nicer and even inviting, but the wall is pretty offputting. next you cross the Wadsworth Antheneum. great museum, but it is also regal and stand offish to the street. as we continue south you come across City Hall, and again we have a building designed like a fortress. a pretty fortress, but one that does not welcome you in. Next is the Library. While this building is almost welcomeing now, it is still a large official building. Next is the federal building. there are not enough bad words to describe this building. like every good federal building it says go away. too bad it is right across the street from the Linden.

All in all this collection of official buildings really kills off anything that might be happening in the CBD.

I can not pretend that there is a fix for this. I guess its just how the administrative center of the city developed.

I think that all we can hope for is that the bushnell plaza be redeveloped with better street interaction for the plaza area? and maybe a phase II Front Street bringing enough new life to the area to make it more lively and connect between the CBD and S Main Street.

anyone else ever look at this area as a kind of dead spot? or a necessary evil or whatever it is? I mean so much of what makes the city great can also be a burden.

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The Gold building is also pretty steril at street level.

Grove Street is a hidden gem that should be opened up.

The northeast quadrant of Bushnell Plaza is atrocious. Hopefully, whatever replaces it after it is demolished should help improve this stretch.

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I don't think this area is quite as bad as you make it out to be. As you mentioned, it has a lot of government/public/church buildings in it, so it is necessarilty going to have a certain feel to it, but at least it is an unbroken streetscape.

That said, I do think that there are a few big problems with this area. The first is Bushnell Plaza. It absolutely kills what is otherwise a very attractive intersection. I've ranted about how horrible this plaza is before, and I think, sadly, we found out that there isn't much of anything that can be done about it because of something to do with the garage below it. Yet another Modernist atrocity having a horrible impact on the city. Since we are stuck with it, maybe they could put an ice skating rink in it like Rockerfeller Plaza - at least that would give it some use.

The other big problem with this area is that a few of the buildings interact terribly with the street. In this regard I am mainly thinking about the Gold Building and the MDC Building. Unfortunately, nothing much can be done about the MDC Building without a massive rennovation. The Gold Building, however, could be fixed easily. Just change the damn thing so that the ground-level windows aren't that horrible reflective gold. All of a sudden the building isn't nearly so hostile.

As to the rest, the Travelers Plaza isn't great, but really that area is pretty small overall, I don't think it matters all that much. As much as I love density, I imagine that area must have seemed very claustrophobic when the plaza had a building on it. I actually think this area could be helped quite a bit by developing the lots near Pulaski Circle on Wells and Elm Street. That would really add a lot of density just off Main and would help knit the area more with Bushnell Park and the stuff down on Linden Street and Capitol Ave. Otherwise, assuming phase 2 of Front Street ever gets built, the whole area would be pretty much developed.

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The plaza at the northeast corner of Bushnell Plaza should be razed along with the underground, inward facing retail (who ever thought this was a good idea?) and a new midrise condo tower (6-8 stories) could be built facing Main with street level retail. Owner occupied condo/townhouses lining the south side of Gold Street facing Carl Andrade's Stone Field and the back entrance to the Ancient Burial Grounds would be a nice addition on Bushnell Park and the Lewis Street area. There is nothing but grass there now.

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Bad news. The Bushnell Tower folks just redid their garage. That monstrosity isn't coming down anytime soon. I.M. Pei is a hack, no matter what people want to believe about the guy.

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I've ranted about how horrible this plaza is before, and I think, sadly, we found out that there isn't much of anything that can be done about it because of something to do with the garage below it. Yet another Modernist atrocity having a horrible impact on the city. Since we are stuck with it, maybe they could put an ice skating rink in it like Rockerfeller Plaza - at least that would give it some use.

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I have to say that anything is possible.

If the people who own those condos and more importantly, whomever buys the appartment/office/194 parking space portfolio from GMAC, feel like they can make money by redeveloping the plaza/office building, than it may happen some day.

here is a simple cheesey graphic expression of how a simple 5 story building could go a long long way in tying things togeher (yes its all pie in the sky)

Now

NewBitmapImage2-1.jpg

With a 5 story mixed use building atop the garages (and the office removed)

NewBitmapImage.jpg

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http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/ite...OX=1&REC=10

In that picture, the building to the right was the building at the corner of Main and Grove, Mulberry St. ran right in the middle of that block. Buildings to the left were replaced with the MDC building.

http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/ite...BOX=1&REC=4

Another picture of the building between Mulberry and Gold.

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http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/ite...OX=1&REC=10

In that picture, the building to the right was the building at the corner of Main and Grove, Mulberry St. ran right in the middle of that block. Buildings to the left were replaced with the MDC building.

http://www.cthistoryonline.org/cdm-cho/ite...BOX=1&REC=4

Another picture of the building between Mulberry and Gold.

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No matter where I view this development from, I always feel like Im at the back of it.

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loews.jpg

Another one (swiped from Hog River Journal). Just a shame.

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The plaza at the northeast corner of Bushnell Plaza should be razed along with the underground, inward facing retail (who ever thought this was a good idea?) and a new midrise condo tower (6-8 stories) could be built facing Main with street level retail. Owner occupied condo/townhouses lining the south side of Gold Street facing Carl Andrade's Stone Field and the back entrance to the Ancient Burial Grounds would be a nice addition on Bushnell Park and the Lewis Street area. There is nothing but grass there now.

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A nice outdoor sculpture park in conjuction with the Atheneum wouldnt be so bad as a quick fix either.

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A nice outdoor sculpture park in conjuction with the Atheneum wouldnt be so bad as a quick fix either.

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