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Four Hundred Ten Asylum Is A Go

Courant Editorial

May 27, 2008

Rosanne Haggerty was as good as her word. The West Hartford native said she'd revitalize the historic Capitol Building at 410 Asylum St. in Hartford. Her financing, years in the making, finally came together and construction has begun. Mayor Eddie Perez called it "a tremendous occasion" for the city and he's right.

The building, across from Bushnell Park and the Capitol, will contain 70 units of affordable and market-rate housing with retail and commercial space on the ground floor. It will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified "green" multifamily building in the state, and will even have a green roof. It will be named for the Hollander family, which donated the structure to Haggerty's highly regarded New York-based nonprofit housing organization, Common Ground Community.

The Hollanders had first proposed demolishing the building for parking for an adjacent building, but preservationists filed lawsuits and put up a major stink. Mayor Mike Peters announced in 1998 that the building "isn't coming down while I'm in office."

The family could have pressed the issue, but instead gave the building to Common Ground.

They did a good thing; the outcome is ideal. It preserves a lovely historic background building in a key location. It is the first affordable housing project 56 of the units will be reserved for people making less than 60 percent of the area's median income in a generation. Now more people who work downtown can live there. It should be a catalyst for more development in the Union Place area, too much of which is sacrificed for surface parking.

Hartford has been too quick to demolish buildings. The presumption should be to preserve them. Good things can happen.

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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