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2 Hotels, Restaurant Planned

Developer Has New Proposal For Capewell Factory Site In Hartford

January 15, 2005
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer

Developer J. Martin Hennessey, who has tried unsuccessfully to develop Hartford's Capewell factory into a community of gated homes and a hotel, announced Friday he is moving forward with the hotel.

He's planning two of them, in fact. And an Italian steakhouse to sit in between.

The hotels would sit on what is now a vacant portion of the Capewell site, adjacent to the historic horseshoe nail factory which another developer is planning to convert into condominiums.

The first hotel to be built would likely be a 130-room Candlewood Suites, a mid-priced, extended-stay hotel that is part of the Holiday Inn chain. Hennessey has not yet secured the franchising rights.

AmeriSuites, part of the Hyatt chain, has shown interest in the second hotel, which would have about 132 rooms, Hennessey said.

As for the restaurant, he's hoping to run it with family members.

Hennessey said hotels are a perfect use for the site on Wyllys Street, especially since it sits in the shadow of Adriaen's Landing and the new convention center.

"We feel that there's a need notwithstanding the convention business," he said.

The Capital City Economic Development Authority seems to concur. The agency agreed Friday to set aside $2.5 million to finance 344 parking spaces at the future hotel site.

"It's a good investment for a couple of reasons," said Dean Pagani, spokesman for CCEDA. "Number one, it helps redevelop that part of the downtown area. It will also add hotel rooms that will service the convention center and it will also add parking."

CCEDA has not yet determined whether the $2.5 million to Hennessey will be a grant or a loan. The money is reserved for Hennessey until November and is contingent on his finding full financing for his project.

The money comes from the pool of $25 million that the state earmarked to boost downtown's parking capacity.

Once the first hotel is complete, Hennessey expects to ask CCEDA for $1.6 million more, to cover about 66 more parking spaces.

The hotels would be designed to resemble the historic factory, with a red brick facade and chimneys - a detail that neighborhood residents liked.

"He was very responsive to the neighborhood," said Carol Coburn, executive director of the Coalition to Strengthen the Sheldon/Charter Oak Neighborhood.

"He's come up with a great design that integrates beautifully and might provide employment that people can walk to and might provide a place where they can eat in the neighborhood," she said.

The site is adjacent to the soon-to-be-razed Dutch Point housing project

Building two hotels is Hennessey's plan B for the Capewell site. For years, he had planned a $20 million project comprising a gated housing community and a hotel. But after years of fund-raising delays, the city of Hartford, which had committed $11.4 million in bonds and federal housing money, withdrew the financing, in effect killing the project.

After that, Hennessey secured the development rights to the southernmost portion of the site from the Capewell's current owner John Reveruzzi. Reveruzzi agreed in 2003 to let Hennessey pursue his hotel plans for two more years, after which the development rights would revert to Reveruzzi. Reveruzzi is planning to convert the factory to about 90 condominiums.

Hennessey said Friday that CCEDA's pledging money for the hotel's parking garage and surface lot is a green light for the project to move forward.

"We don't need any additional funding sources, other than the private commercial lender," he said.

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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