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Bridging Park Street

A New Plan For The Old Bradlees Site Calls For An Upscale Mall, A Two-lane Park Street And Even More Parking Spaces

December 7, 2006
By MEIR RINDE, Hartford Advocate Staff Writer

From Main Street to Park Terrace it has newly cobbled sidewalks and dozens of small businesses. West from I-84 it has an assortment of Hispanic, Brazilian, Portuguese and Vietnamese-owned shops, as well as Parkville’s nascent design district.

Between the two stretches are Pope Park and, across the street, a large sunken parking lot and strip mall that carries a whiff of abandonment. For years, 1200 Park St. has been home to a Save-A-Lot grocery store, a defunct Bradlees and a scattering of lonely cars.

Carlos Mouta has big plans to change that. In his other ventures, he’s already renovated several nearby buildings in Parkville, opened the upscale O’Porto restaurant on the West Hartford line and put a Dunkin Donuts in the old Municipal Building downtown. Now his company, Westside Property Management, has a plan to turn 1200 Park into a boutiquey mall called Pope Commons, raise the building height by 10 feet and build a second floor that would house a court of locally owned stalls serving international foods.

In his boldest proposal, Mouta wants the city to reduce Park Street from four lanes to two and add on-street parking on both sides.

Cars routinely barrel down the street at high speeds, which Mouta says has caused a number of fatal accidents. Narrowing it would make the road safer and the area more family friendly, he argued. “People will be coming by and saying, let’s go in for a moment,” he said. “We’re making this all-in-one. Somebody can go shopping and then go to the park.”

Frog Hollow and Parkville are not wealthy neighborhoods, but Mouta, who is Portuguese, said the success of Parkville’s mix of ethnic businesses, the presence of hundreds of residents within walking distance and the relative proximity of two highway exits several blocks away will help the development attract an affluent crowd.

“I want to bring a [type of] shopping so we don’t have to go out to Clinton or Westbrook,” Mouta said, referring to two high-end outlet malls on the south shore.

“Upscale — but they would also have businesses from Europe and South America, that would attract European-South American type of people, middle income and higher. I’m not going to have dollar stores there. It’s not going to happen.”

Mouta said he also wants to build a new, 4,000-square-foot building in the parking lot, with businesses that would draw people directly off the street.

Mouta also wants to increase the size of the already large parking lot by using the land under I-84 for more spaces. Expanded, the lot would have 600 spaces, which he claims the new mall will need. Last week the old Bradlees reopened temporarily as a Mega Liquidation Club, which charges an admission fee and sells discount merchandise, and Mouta said the parking lot has been packed.

The plan has been submitted to the city for review by development officials. Sketches and an animated walk-through are online at PopeCommons.com.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Advocate.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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