June 2, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford officials want to sell a 4-acre piece of Main Street
land that has been the site of a home, a hotel, possibly a railroad
spur, and is now a vacant trapezoid, they announced Wednesday.
The land at 1450 Main St. - across the way from the new Belden Street
residential development, up the street from the city's future public
safety complex, not far from the MetroCenter shopping complex at
Main and Pavilion streets - is another of the city's attempts to
revitalize the Clay-Arsenal neighborhood.
"I love it when a plan comes together," said Mayor Eddie
A. Perez, explaining that the neighborhood plan has been long in
the making. "This is going to be a key investment. My hope is
that we'll get a significant market proposal ... that is a little
bit out of the box."
The city wants the land, which
is assessed at about $260,000, to be a "mixed use" development, with a minimum of 25,000
square feet of new construction, a main entrance on Main Street,
a "consistent visual identity," and more.
It could be residential, it could be commercial, but it will most
likely be retail, Perez and his staff said.
The land isn't big enough for
a "big box" store, said
John Palmieri, the city's director of development services. But it
is big enough for, say, an anchor drug store and a few smaller retailers.
"In the best of all worlds, though, we'd like to get a proposal
that is both residential and retail," he said. But, given that
the North End is a neighborhood in transition, the city must be flexible,
"We've got to be careful about demanding too much from the
development community," Palmieri said.
Perez calls this cluster of intersections
including Main Street, Belden Street, and Albany Avenue a "gateway" -
to Clay-Arsenal for those heading north, to the city's downtown
for those heading south.
"There's been a great deal of investment right there in those
three and half blocks," Perez said.
"And there's a little bit
of healthy speculation on some of the private parcels that are
there, which I think are good signs."
Perez added that he will look
to obtain the best price for the property to generate revenue for
the city, but he also is looking for the right type of use. "If it needs a little bit of subsidy ...
I think we're willing to do this," he said.
Finally, the property will likely need some sort of environmental
remediation, Palmieri said, adding that the site's contamination
would likely make it better suited for retail development than residential
Responses to the request for proposals are due no later than July
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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