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Returning Downtown

Residents Filled-Up Signature Residential Buildings Means More Life In City Center

Hartford Courant Editorial

August 12, 2011

A decade ago, the problem was finding anyone on the streets downtown. Today the problem is finding a place for Hartfordites to grill steaks.

The streets that were desolate (on days when there were no Civic Center events) now have people jogging, walking dogs or heading out for dinner. The streets aren't yet crowded with pedestrians, but the number is growing. Amid the periodic bad tidings for Hartford is this very good news: People are moving back downtown.

The signature residential buildings constructed in the past decade or so -- Hartford 21, The Lofts at Main and Temple, Trumbull on the Park and so on -- are all leased up. A developer is poised to renovate the long-closed Clarion Hotel on Constitution Plaza into 193 apartments.

Downtown denizens have an active Facebook page and are conducting a voter registration drive, which is a step toward more engagement in the city's political life.

In short, downtown is well on its way to gaining the critical mass of residents needed to make it what it once was, a 24-hour city.

This summer, residents have been looking for a place to gather and grill steaks. Would a section of Bushnell Park be out of the question, Mayor Segarra? Perhaps a couple of parking places could be dedicated to this noble venture.

The influx of residents -- perhaps the best result of the state's Six Pillars of Progress project begun in the late 1990s -- brings much-needed energy and vitality to downtown. As more move in, the better the market for retail and other services.

Which raises this question: If the current residential buildings are virtually full, and there's a high vacancy rate in office buildings, should some commercial buildings be converted to mixed-use or residential?

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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