June 8, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
A proposal to make the former Hastings Hotel and Conference Center
in Hartford the new home of the Connecticut Culinary Institute,
in limbo for 10 months, has been revived, two officials confirmed
"Nothing has been signed at this
point, but it would not at all be overstepping the line to say that
there are conversations between all of the players involved daily," said
Brooke Baran, a spokeswoman for the institute. "Things are certainly
more positive than they were ... but it's still a large deal to try
to put together.
"We are still hopeful that we will at some point be able to
call the Hastings `home,'" she said.
Fred Laberge, a spokesman for
Aetna, which holds the building's mortgage, agreed. "We are hopeful, as well, that we can work
toward an agreement that might put the Culinary Institute in the
Hastings," he said.
The Hastings, with 271 rooms and 55,000 square feet of conference
space, was closed in late 2003, putting more than 100 people out
of work and forcing other businesses in the building to close. Last
August, the first institute deal - one that would have paid Aetna
between $8 million and $10 million for the building - fell apart
when a developer in its partnership backed out.
This new deal includes some new players, Baran said.
"There are still quite a few things outstanding in terms of
whether the deal will actually happen," she said. "CCI
is very committed to trying to put the deal together."
The location suits the institute because it offers ample student
housing, a restaurant and a banquet facility. The Hastings would
replace the institute's Farmington campus, although its Suffield
campus would remain, she said.
Conversion of the Hastings for
CCI would require significant renovations to the Asylum Hill building,
including the addition of 11 teaching kitchens. Another issue is
the building's disuse since earlier negotiations ended in August,
Baran said. "So the due diligence process now
will be tougher than it was on the first go-round," she said.
"Everybody is hopeful that, collectively, we can find our way
to great news, and to me being able to say that things are now signed," she
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at