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Construction Could Begin Next Spring On Constitution Plaza Apartment Tower

By Kenneth R. Gosselin

October 19, 2012

A builder who envisions a new, 195-unit apartment tower at Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford will bring the proposal to city planners next week.

Builder Abul Islam told me today that he could break ground on the 15-story, $50 million tower as soon as next spring on the site of the old Broadcast House, now a hole in the ground with a fence around it.

Islam said the mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, split between market-rate and those affordable to low- and moderate-income households. He hopes the apartments — named The Residences at River View — will appeal to young professionals and empty nesters.

“My project and others in and around Hartford will boost revitalization efforts in Hartford,” Islam told me. “You have to create an environment where you live, work and play.”

To qualify for the low- and moderate-income units, tenants would have to meet certain income guidelines. For instance, a prospective tenant in a one-person, or studio, apartment could earn no more than $37,500 a year. The units would not be Section 8, which target much lower incomes.

Islam must still secure the majority of financing for the project. He hopes to tap into housing funds from the state, including the governor’s program that seeks to promote low- and moderate income households. He was unsuccessful in his first bid for those funds, but plans to reapply by Nov. 28, Islam told me.

Islam has already sunk more than $2 million of his own money into the project, buying Broadcast House in 2008 and demolishing it a year later.

Earlier this year, Islam abandoned initial plans to build an office tower on the site amid a weak office leasing market in the city.

Islam’s apartment plans join several others in the city, including conversion of the neighboring, vacant Sonesta hotel on the plaza. A Fairfield developer also is seeking to convert the Bank of America tower at 777 Main St. into apartments.

Those projects target studio and one-bedroom apartments, which are in short supply in the city’s downtown area.

The design of Islam’s apartment tower differs from the original office building plan. The apartment structure would be L-shaped at the corner of State Street and Columbus Boulevard.

The apartment tower would have about 22,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Islam’s firm, AI Engineers, Inc., now located in Middletown, would likely be the sole commercial tenant.

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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