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Jury Still Out On City's Future

April 19, 2007
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

There was the optimistic sell man for downtown Hartford's newest luxury apartment tower, as well as a hopeful couple who bought a new condo just a few blocks away.

But Wednesday's open discussion on the city's future also drew a young, big-firm attorney who said he wanted to live at that new apartment tower, Hartford 21, until he saw he couldn't afford it, and a teacher who said her college-age students wondered whether there would be a place for them in the Hartford to come.

"From talking to my students, there's a feeling of, `We're Hartford residents, we're already here, who are they trying to attract?'" said city resident Kerri Provost. "We're young, we're in the demographic, but why aren't we good enough?"

A mix of a few-dozen residents, politicians, mayoral hopefuls and city leaders met at the downtown Hartford Public Library for a forum titled, "Hartford's Next Generation of Development: Bullish, Bubble, or Bust?"

Mixed in with optimism regarding downtown's recent development were questions that have followed Adriaen's Landing since its inception: Will the downtown face-lift mean citywide benefits? Will it positively affect the city's perceived negatives - crime, education and poverty?

The discussion was moderated by John Motley, former Hartford school official and former director of the St. Paul Travelers Connecticut Foundation. On the panel were R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel of the MetroHartford Alliance; Chuck Coursey, a spokesman for downtown landlord Northland Investment Corp.; former city Councilman John O'Connell; and former city Councilwoman Marilyn E. Rossetti, who now heads Hartford Areas Rally Together.

Griebel spoke of a public private partnership called Hartford 2010 that is underway to "leverage" the downtown investments already at work. Coursey said the Hartford 21 apartment tower has rented roughly one-third of its units and that its new supermarket could open this summer.

Rossetti called on those gathered to pay attention to the city's poor, and she stressed the importance of jobs. O'Connell said the city is saddled with problems such as high taxes.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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