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COMPLETED: Main and Temple Development (Sage-Allen Project)

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Sage-Allen Project Now In `Go Mode'

Small-Business Owners Must Struggle Through Construction Period

By MIKE SWIFT, Courant Staff Writer | July 8, 2004

View a great Sage-Alllen photo gallery at: Trix Rosen Photography

Dean Tsikrikis, Minh Tao and Donato Zarrilli are all downtown Hartford survivors, small-business owners who flourished during the boom of the 1980s, who somehow kept afloat during the bleak 1990s.

Now, they face two years of pain before - they hope - those bright days return.

Tsikrikis, Tao and Zarrilli learned Wednesday that more than six years after developers began working on the project, they finally are ready to begin demolition and reconstruction of the former Sage-Allen & Co. department store building on Main Street.

"I'm excited," said Marc S. Levine, one of the developers. "There is certainly a lot of challenge ahead to make the project come to fruition, but the legalities are in place, the financing is in place, and we're in a full go mode."

By Aug. 1, work should begin on the $40 million effort to replace the rotting hulk of the old department store - perhaps downtown's biggest eyesore - with 78 luxury apartments, housing for several hundred students, a parking garage, and 12,000 square feet of street-level stores and restaurants.

The 1898 Classical Renaissance Revival front of the building will be preserved, with two new "bookend" buildings built on either side.

As part of the project, the old "Mixmaster" building, a 1970s-era creation that once allowed people to walk between the G. Fox and Sage-Allen department stores without ever stepping foot on Main Street, will also be demolished. The city will use a $1 million federal grant to reopen Temple Street between Main and Market streets.

And that's where the small businesses come in.

Tsikrikis and Tao run businesses in the food court of the Richardson Building, reached from the Mixmaster. Zarrilli is a barber whose shop is in the Richardson. And while construction crews are literally demolishing their front door later this summer, they will have to find a way to survive - again.

Once Temple Street reopens, not until 2005 at the earliest, they will have a street-level address, a basic need for almost any retailer. But to stay alive until then, they expect to have to put up with noise, dust and temporary access.

"I'm not worried about the afterwards," said Tsikrikis, owner of The Gyro Place in the food court. "I'm worried about construction."

Tao, whose Saigon Kitchen has been in the Richardson building since 1985, isn't just worried, she's angry.

"It's not right to do it like that," she said of the demolition of the Mixmaster. "After [the developer] does construction, how can I pay my rent? ... How people will see me?"

Levine said the food court would remain open during construction and that there would still be an entrance from both the Market Street and Main Street sides of the building.

With the ownership of the Sage-Allen building changing hands from the city to the developers last week, the only thing blocking the start of construction is the relocation of the Above Us store on Main Street. Once that is complete, about Aug. 1, demolition of the Mixmaster and much of the Sage-Allen building will begin.

"Once the site is completely vacant, we'll begin demolition of the Mixmaster and demolition of those parts of the Sage-Allen [that] ... will not remain once we're finished," said Phil Schonberger, another member of the partnership developing the project. "It's a fairly surgical type of demolition because we want to leave the main building standing."

The new apartments on Main Street and the 310-space parking garage should open about 18 months after the start of construction, he said, with the student housing opening about two years after the start.

The housing will be part of the construction boom that should double the residential population of downtown Hartford by 2006, hopefully creating a viable 24-hour neighborhood.

Zarrilli remembers when the Mixmaster was a major downtown crossroads in the 1980s, where people walking between Constitution Plaza and Main Street would cross paths with people traveling between Main Street's large department stores.

"This place was really booming at that time. Then, everything collapsed. It's going to be 14 years that Sage-Allen closed," Zarrilli said in his empty barbershop Wednesday afternoon.

"It was quite a few years that everything was dying," he said. "Things are looking up."

From The Hartford Courant

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To update on the Sage Allen project currently the project it moving forward as demolition and construction continue on track to convert the former Hartford department store on Main Street (two buildings down from the former G. Fox Department Store which is now Capital Community College and next to the Richardson Building which is now a Residence Inn by Marriott).

The project will bring housing for 136 University of Hartford students allowing them the choice of suburban or urban housing, a parking garage, and 12,000 square feet of retail space.

42 4-Bedroom townhouses will be constructed and at least 34 of them will be used by UHART students, the rest for sale. Completion should be fall, 2005.

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Nice project. Good to see Temple St. reopening in that area. Hartford's developers and political leadership seem to understand that walkability and connectivity are keys to active street life.

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Yes Hartford developers are starting to understand this while politicans are taking a little bit longer. The area is currently very car dependent and more public transportation initiatives need to be put into afftect.

There currently is a public bus system which runs well but theres always room for improvment.

A New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line was proposed. Currently there is a some service but this new service would add many new stations in communities along I-91 giving Hartford a stronger connection to the New York metro area

A circulator system plan was drawn up but cannot be built this year into next year because the Convention Center budget was cut even though the state currently has an almost 800 million dollar surplas. The circulator system would have carried tourists round the clock from the convention center to various other venues and hotels around the city. This would have been very helpful since the Convention Center is at the edge of downtown and besides the new Marriott the rest of Hartford's hotels are in the heart of downtown (Hilton Hartford, Goodwin Hotel, Holiday Inn Express) and the walk from there to the convention center can be long and dangerous (not in a violent sense) in the sense that during the weekday and at rush hour the streets are filled with the thousands who rush around downtown for work.

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A New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line was proposed. Currently there is a some service but this new service would add many new stations in communities along I-91 giving Hartford a stronger connection to the New York metro area

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That New Haven rail connection would be awesome. What's the current status?

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On the New Britan-Hartford busline: I have not heard anything in the news lately about it but did find an article from a newsletter titled All Aboard. An article from Summer 2004 says that the project was delayed for 14 months because of a conflict between Amtack and CT-DOT. The project it says is still on but has a new timeline where the completion date will be 2009 instead of 2006. I then found another article from Feb. 2005 titled Hartford "Busway" Dies; Maybe Rails Would Work Instead? at the site http://kcjones.blogharbor.com/blog/_archiv.../11/317795.html This article shows that the FTA downgraded the need of mass transit in the area but talks about how rail might work better through this area then buses. There is also a release from Govenor Rells office in Feb 2005 that talks about how the state will try to gain the "recommend" status from the FTA so that the project can move forward. http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.as...61&Q=289848

Checking about the New Haven Hartford line

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Sunday afternoon...it was sunny all day and as soon as I get downtown the clouds roll in and it starts raining. :wacko:

HartfordSageAllenAugust20052.jpg

HartfordSageAllenAugust2005medium.jpg

bonus skyline shot

HartfordskylineAugust2005.jpg

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I'm a little disappionted in the design of the townhouses. Too many failed projects in Hartford are inward facing instead of bringing life to their respective streets. Park Place Towers and Bushnell Plaza are two good examples of this. The townhouse here, don't look loike they are open to Temple Street, but look like they are accessed through a central courtyard on Market Street. It would add so much more to the streetscape if the front entrances were on Temple.

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Luca -- I completely agree with that statement. There is no reason the town houses could have had both a front and back door it would have improved Temple Street tremendously. However, even if it is't perfect, it's still a very nice addition to Main Street.

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You guys are right about the townhouses facing inward. I didn't look closely enough the first time. They should open out to the street.

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You guys are right about the townhouses facing inward.  I didn't look closely enough the first time.  They should open out to the street.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I kind of agree, but the way the hill is it would have been kind of hard to do without staggering the roofs as well. I think they plan on putting street level retail facing Temple which actually might be even better.

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The view down Pratt Street with the redone Sage Allen Building should be wonderful It will look like a 1940's street especially with the historic street lamps.

Once when I brought an out of town friend to Pratt Street he said "This looks like a movie set." With the new Sage Allen building at one end, the illusion will be even bettter

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Hopes this works. Sage Allen from Consitution Plaza, from Asylum Street and a photo of an iron worker taking a stroll.

Taken from Constitution Plaza. Hartford 21 is the construction in the background.

41120091_81e2c19a51.jpg

One step forward two steps back

41120094_5cf3381d4c.jpg

I watched this walk around the beams like he was strolling down the street, very entertaining. <41120095_f2e6d2e687.jpg

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Those are some great shots, thanks for sharing. I especially like the perspective in the 1st picture with Hartford 21 in the background and Temple Street in the foreground.

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Are they going to match the right side with the left?

Yes, the building will be symmetric. I went by yesterday and saw that it has come a long way. Could someone upload more recent pictures?

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They are going to have to redo the Marriot's facade on Temple which was the original entrance to that building years ago. With the construction of the "mixmaster" and the alternate entrance constructed throufgh the Richardson Building on Main, the original entrance and windows were lost behind cinderblock walls on Temple.

I hope its not the same treatment they gave the Marriot facade on Market a few years back with that awful ready-made stucco and fake arches. Its horrible.

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I think this building is being done right. It appears to me like the new portion and the old portion will mesh well, thank god....

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