The economy may be in the dumps, but there is reason for optimism in Hartford.
Three developers recently demonstrated faith in the capital city, pursuing major projects downtown despite the downturn.
Abul A. Islam is moving forward with a $40 million, 12-story office tower on the site of the vacant Broadcast House at the edge of Constitution Plaza. Construction is slated to begin in September. Mr. Islam is confident that financing is imminent. His firm, AI Engineers, will occupy two floors of the tower, which will be built with green technology. He also claims to have a lease agreement with an unnamed tenant.
This is impressive progress at a time when there is a 20 percent vacancy rate in premium office space downtown.
Lance J. Robbins, a California developer with experience in rehabilitating historic landmarks, is taking over the dormant Colt Gateway project and hopes to resume work later this year. Chevron Corp. will help finance his vision, a community of artists and entrepreneurs. He says he is in discussions with a major commercial tenant for the complex. Private investment improves the chances that Coltsville will become a national park.
Meanwhile, construction is continuing on the Front Street project despite the recent death of developer Bradley Nitkin. His company says it is committed to carrying out a commitment for a $30 million retail phase of the development across the street from the Connecticut Convention Center.
It is heartening that investors see opportunity here and crucial that state and city officials continue working with these firms on incentives such as tax breaks, tax credits, stimulus money and green technology grants.
With the Connecticut Science Center getting ready to open soon and these three large projects moving ahead, Hartford's prospects are looking up.
Confidence is contagious.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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