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Developer Reshaping ‘60s Era Plaza In Hartford

Greg Seay

July 05, 2010

Hartford developer Carlos Mouta has begun transforming the former Bradlees-Stop & Shop plaza at Park and Laurel Streets, in the city’s Parkville neighborhood, into his $5 million vision of a multi-tenant commercial center.

Pope Commons, 1200 Park St., will have at least a half-dozen retail and service tenants in most of the 113,000 square feet of existing space that Motta is refurbishing inside and out to accommodate them. The center gets its name from historic Pope Park on the opposite side of Park Street.

Renovations have started on the empty west end of the 1960s-era center that until about a decade ago housed a 70,000-square-foot Bradlees discount store. Years earlier, Stop & Shop vacated its supermarket that once anchored the center’s east end.

“I shopped there at both those stores as a kid,’’ Mouta said.

When work is fully complete around November, a Family Dollar discount store, along with a laundromat, a specialty-shoe retailer, a hair-and-nail salon will occupy a portion of the Bradlees space, he said. The first tenants are due to move in around August.

The Sav-A-Lot grocery store, anchoring 13,000 square feet in part of the former Stop & Shop space, will relocate into the former Bradlees space, he said.

Meanwhile, an upscale wine shop has signed up for the space Sav-A-Lot is vacating, he said.

Eventually, Mouta says he plans a two-level, 4,000-square-foot retail pad fronting Pope Commons

Motta said he bought the center more than three years ago from the estate of a West Hartford landlord. Mouta planned to begin renovating and expanding the property in 2007, but was sidetracked by the early stages of the economic slump and the damper on lending for commercial real estate projects.

A more ambitious plan for restoring the shopping plaza originally called for erecting a domed structure atop the one-level Bradlees store, providing an extra 10,000 square feet for a restaurant and more retail. Motta said his redesign of the property could accommodate those features down the road.

For now, a clock tower and a vivid paint scheme will be among its more prominent design features.

After shopping unsuccessfully among Hartford area lenders for financing, Motta wound up with a mortgage loan from PeoplesBank in Holyoke, Mass., a situation about which he is admittedly bitter.

Nor are city and state grants part of the financing, Mouta said.

However, the city has earmarked some “Obama money’’ from the American Economy Recovery Act to create a boulevard-style “streetscape’’ on Park Street in front of Pope Commons, he said. It will feature a tree-lined median and a traffic-calming design of single lanes and curbing.

Pope Commons is Mouta’s latest investment in the Parkville neighborhood. He also owns and redeveloped the Hartford Design Center, which houses interior design-decorating boutiques and 56 loft apartments.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Business Journal. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Business Journal Archives at http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/archives.php.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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