New Way Of Thinking Marries West Hartford With Hartford
Business groups seek ways to market Park Road and Parkville
July 9, 2007
By KENNETH J. ST. ONGE, Hartford Business Journal Writer
Hartford is a city of neighborhoods. But if the business-owners in one of those neighborhoods get their way, the one they call home would look more like a piece of West Hartford, than the capital city they pay taxes to.
And in both towns, everyone from the mayors, to the developers, to the neighborhood activists seems pretty pleased by the idea.
The vision they all share would unite Park Road and its environs in West Hartford with Park Street in the Parkville neighborhood in Hartford. The idea is to create one continuous, similar-looking area to attract entertainment seekers and pedestrian traffic from much of Central Connecticut.
That corner piece of that vision is a planned redevelopment of the streetscape in Parkville that will extend from the town line at Prospect Avenue, all the way down Park Street to Sisson Avenue. The city will foot the bill for the project, which is currently out for bids and set to get started before the end of the year.
The design for the streetscape mirrors that of Park Road in West Hartford, with similar sidewalks, curbstones, trees and even street lamps that extend well down Park Street, the heart of Parkville.
Developers and city officials in both towns say the similar-looking streetscapes will be a corner piece to attract foot traffic. The idea is that people headed, for example, to the Park Road Playhouse in West Hartford, or Real Art Ways in Hartford, will stroll along the street and stop at one of the local restaurants or retailers.
The two main business associations in the neighborhood – the Park Road Association and the Parkville Association – are major drivers behind the effort, and have been meeting for weeks to figure out ways to promote the area.
“We want to make the town line transparent,” said Angelo Faenza, the former owner of the Prospect Café and current president of the 140-member Park Road Business Association in West Hartford. “We want to create marketing and whatever else might come about that we can share.”
The feeling is mutual on the city side of the line. Carlos Mouta, Faenza’s counterpart in the Parkville Association, said “we think there’s a lot that both streets have to offer each other.”
Mouta, owner of Westside Property in Hartford, is by far the largest investor in the Parkville neighborhood, with nearly 700,000 square feet of space spread across at least a dozen buildings. So, admittedly, he has the most to gain or lose in the flourishing or floundering of Parkville. And with major redevelopments in West Hartford center and Downtown Hartford, one would assume Mouta’s interest would lie in protecting that investment.
But Mouta insists that development in both areas actually helps businesses along Parkville and Park Road, rather than competes with them. “We welcome all of that. They are great pieces. We need a great downtown.”
Both groups assert that the redevelopment of Parkville creates something for both towns that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Now, with an eye toward raising awareness about, both groups have turned their attention to how to market the neighborhood.
The result: “Park to Park”, the working name for a marketing effort aimed at promoting the whole area.
Members of the two associations have been hashing out details of the marketing plan over the last several months. They are designing a brochure that will be mailed out in Chamber of Commerce newsletters, Park Road Playhouse flyers, and other materials that go directly to consumers. They are even toying with the idea of buying billboard advertising on Interstate 84, which runs right through the area, said Richard Patrissi, former owner Patrissi Nursery in West Hartford, and the man known among in the neighborhood as “the mayor of Park Road.”
“Any way we can get the message out we plan to,” he said.
The feeling of cooperation has even spawned some restaurateurs to begin promoting the area jointly. John Paindiris, co-owner of Effie’s Place Restaurant in West Hartford, said he and several other restaurants in the neighborhood are trying to put together their own radio campaign to spread the word about the variety of cuisine offered between Parkville and Park Road.