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The Voice of Reason

The next 5 years...

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Hey guys, I was wondering what everyones thoughts are on the next 5 years in Downtown Hartford...

I looked back into the Archives of this forum the other night and it seems 2003-2004 was the begining of the Hartford section as well as the begining of the redevelopment downtown. Its pretty safe to say that 2009 was the end of development even though a few projects continued on(New public safety complex)

Given those 5 years, what do you think will transpire in the 2012-2017 timeframe?

2011 was a very big year in Boston with billions in projects started, but 2012 is absolutely EPIC. some people are calling it the year of the crane.

While Boston might be the most active city in the nation, they are clearly starting earlier than Hartford. from past experience, the early proposals are always the most likely to get built and to succeed, so what do you guys think will and will not get done here in Hartford?

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The 2 projects that have been through zoning are the apartments on the plaza and 777 Main street.

I figure they are also both after the same market, so one might be waiting on the other to get started so they dont open at the same time and struggle to rent out, otherwise they are the most likely to happen of all projects.

I am right now assuming that the plaza will be the first to start work and first to open. I am most eager right now to see who will start work forst and how soon because timing is key to everything in development. Today there is a huge backlog of demand, but who knows in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years! If this project opens say spring of 2013, I will be pretty happy, and if 777 Main comes along another 6 months later I think that would be reasonable. I think 777 main needs more work to be habitable. ^ months open alone in the market would gibe The plaza a real good chance to fill up before competition really heats up. 915 Main rented up within 6 months, so in this market its absolutely possible for the plaza apartments to be in good shape before 777 Main goes live.

777 However might take a bit of time to fill up because of its size. It would be the largest apartment building in Hartford, Surely helped by its location, and possibly helped by the spectrum of the market it will cater too (some moderate income housing, some high end units up top, and a ton of housing for the young professional.

Other projects I see getting done in 5 years are... Hollander II. while just 40 units, I think this one will get wrapped up in about 4 years. It wont be fast as they seek all possible grants but it will be faster than the first Hollander building. I also think something will happen at front Street in the coming 5 years mainly due to the federal state and city funding. I can guarantee that I will not be happy with what it is though :) 115 Apartments on that parcel is not going to look very good. it will be low and squat and unimaginative. but it will be 115 Apartments. Lastly I see the S armory of Colt being finished off in the next 5 years.

As far as the ones I am not sure about, 101-111 Pearl I have incredibly high hopes for, but we also have a long long list of failed attempts. I truely hope that the govenor and mayor are able to keep their jobs as it seems there is political support for this right now, but 3 years from now when its most likely to really get moving that support would still need to be there. Same can be said for the Colt project East Armory.

The AI Tech center has an uphill road to hoe due to it being new construction as does the condos near the Bushnell. while not an impossibility I think their success depends on the markets reaction to The plaza apartments and 777 Main. If those two projects are a wild success you can bet investors will dive into Hartford.

I think there might be one other project we do not yet know about that will end up being proposed and built in the next 5 years. Be it 55 Elm conversion, something at the YMCA site, 179 Allyn Street conversion, or 750 main street conversion....

Lastly, just a guess, but within 5 years, we will have a new hotel under construction or open. It might be the Goodwin, it might be something else entirely, but 5 years seems about right for another new hotel downtown.

we shall see!

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I pretty much agree with your assessment. I think that the plaza apartments are pretty much definitely going to be the first project completed in this next wave, followed by Hollander. I think Front St. phase 2 will happen but the rest are definitely pretty up in the air. I think 777 Main will eventually be redevolped into housing but it could be a long wait. I think that having 101 - 111 Pearl marketed as a package along with Trumbull on the park may be helpful in spuring some action there but I'm still pretty sure there will need to be some subsidies involved to get anything done there. I really hope that something is proposed for the vacant lot area in North Downtown where the city just announced they are buying the LAZ owned parking lot, but think that is also very far out. I'm optimistic that some kind of critical mass of a residential population will be reached within the next decade so that things can really start flowing due to actual market demand. Hopefully the rail line is up and running in 5 years and the increased transit access spurs dome development as well.

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I don’t see the booms in New York and Boston coming to Hartford. Both NY and Massachusetts held the line on tax increases. Malloy increased spending and taxes and now Connecticut faces a new, big deficit. That means even more taxes. That is not a business climate conducive to growth.

That said, the housing projects are more important in the short term. Constitution Plaza is the bell weather. Honestly I don’t expect them to start construction until summer of 2013. Anything sooner would be a very good sign.

If it happens, I believe it will be successful almost immediately and really enliven the plaza. That would be a major plus for the city.

IMO, the next most likely is Pearl Street. It’s a no brainer. I don’t see how the city keeps screwing this up. Great location. Terrific price for the location. And virtually every local developer already has a plan to make this work. It will be very interesting to see the bids come in. I would prefer a workmanlike, get it done plan to some beautiful pie in the sky proposal. You don’t need this corner to be a grand slam. A good solid single would make a huge difference.

Another simple project would be to turn the Goodwin back into apartments. That looks to be a very accomplishable project. While I’m at it, love to see both the Residence Inn and the Homewood suites both turned into apartments. They would be easy conversions. Doubt it would happen.

Past that, who knows? I think VOR is probably right and the next new building will be a hotel. The game changer would be a new arena north of downtown with a new hotel attached. Again, the political climate makes that unlikely.

Hate to sound so pessimistic. But let’s get the Plaza and Pearl done and go from there.

Edited by beerbeer

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I guess I agree on the Pearl St thing. Its what I hope for most because of its location and how it is such a slam dunk.

I want the resulting development to look nice, but I agree that enliving this location is most important. I dont think a single is even possible here, I think if we even bunt it we will get to third! between the 2 buildings its like 170,000SF. that could easily be a huge number of apartments as David Pantigore said. and the fact that the parking garage is allready built and attached... these apartments would immediately have amenities that so many would be interested in... Location, and parking. The key to me though is reactivating the retail on those 2 corners. One helps connect Vitos and Salute up to the rest of Trumbull Street, and the other gives Lewis St a chance to thrive as an older more interesting Pratt Street. (especially with 36 lewis getting a re-do) Its just the history of failure that makes me pause.

The thing about the taxes though beerbeer is this IMO

Sure we are not likely to gain a ton of jobs, certainly not from relocations. But we are likely to see some growth from the broader recovery that should at least offset any negative relocations or downsizing...

and thats fine with me for now.

When it comes down to it, Hartford has FAR more office space and downtown workers and large corporations than its peers. if we are able to maintain that worker and corporate population as we fix the damages of decades of residential flight, we will be OK. put it this way, If Providence continues to attract more jobs due to its more livalbe city center, Good for them! but they will take decades to catch Hartford, and might never have the caliber of companies we do. Hartford however is converting offices into residential at a pretty good clip compared to our peers. We are also even filling our surface lots with active structures (Convention center, Front Street, Mariott, Science Center) The big IF for me is, IF we can develop a few more surface lots and heal the scars of the 80's and 90's we will start to have that better urban feel and energy of our more livable peers. But we will STILL have that jobs advantage. so if we as a city can get through the next 5 years and have say 2% less downtown workers, but 75% more downtown residents... I'll take that tradeoff.

if in 10 years we have lost 5% of our downtown work force but our downtown population reached 5000... again I will take that tradeoff. I also think that at that point we would stop seeing companies leave downtown as its would be a much more attractive place todo business... Unless people all of a sudden no longer want to live in city centers, I see Hartford continuing to recover from the mistakes of our past. but I also agree, there will never be a boom in Hartford again. 1991 was our year.

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Is there a timeframe on the iQuilt work? I have to think that the improvements they have planned (or dreamed) for Bushnell Park would create the type of atmosphere that many more people would want to live around, and companies would want to work around than what is currently in downtown. Also if an arena were to ever be built in North Downtown (or anywhere other than where the XL center is), connecting Pratt and Allyn would be a huge bonus. Right now the XL is more of an obstacle to progress than anything else.

Hartford Tycoon mentions hoping the rail line will be up and running in 5 years...what rail line is this? Is it an extension of Metro North from New Haven?

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He is refering to the Springfield, Hartford, New Haven commuter rail.

its partially funded and apparently some work is supposed to be happening regarding the doubling of tracks, but I have seen nothing definitive.

Its a commuter rail that is supposed to also be part of the Biden plan for High Speed rail connecting in this case Montreal and New York. It would also be part of an alternative path to Boston by way of Springfield. I assume it would be some kind of transfer in Springfield.

But those are more dream than reality, just the source of funding...

the most concrete plan is S-H-NH commuter rail with access to Bradley and something like 11 stops in places like Enfield, Windsor and Meriden.

I'm sure some parts of I-Quilt will be built by 2017. I am guessing the parts with provate funding first off.. Like The Travelers Plaza, and maybe the Bushnell gateway connecting the plaza to the park.

The parking lot re-do up by the bushnell will also likely be done too as there is some federal money to collect drain water etc from parking lots and such.

in 5 years, I bet there will be SOMETHING happening with the arena.. be it renovation or construction. nothing finished I would venture to guess though.

and I also think the Hartford hub I-84 redesign would be getting started (partially because the rail line needs the downtown track allignment addressed and tressel fixed...)

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I see. I thought the future HSR dream included Hartford as the main stop between Boston and NYC. Oh well. Rail connecting Hartford to Bradley would be nice and makes a lot of sense. I know it isnt going to be completed in 5 years but the busline connecting NB to Hartford would pay off the most for students at CCSU who would have a shuttle of sorts to and fro the city. THis could help the housing market in Hartford too, allowing students at CCSU to live in Hartford but commute to school.

I just read an article about a place in Hartford called Tasties (or something like that) where they sell donuts. They are closing due to problems with city inspectors and taxes. These small businesses are a major part of what the future of Hartford is going to be. With them the city can thrive but without, there will be problems. The tax issue needs to be fixed within these next 5 years I can say that much.

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Looking at that list the amusing thing is that many of the bridges in front of it are being replaced right now.

 

so in 2 years or so it could be in the top 5.

 

I know we have some plans laid out, but I have not seem much about the WHEN

 

or really is there a final DOT approved WHAT

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