June 18, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The Midland Farms supermarket that was to open as one of the two
anchor stores at the new Metro Center shopping plaza at Main and
Pavilion streets has pulled out, Hartford and business officials
"They have indicated that because of their company problems, they're
not in a position to open a store," said Richard S. Korris, whose company,
Northeast Retail Leasing and Management Co. LLC, developed the 40,000-square-foot
retail site in the city's Clay-Arsenal neighborhood. Although Korris'
company is still bound by the 15-year lease with the supermarket, his company
is looking into legal action under the contract, he said.
The complex was shepherded by three nonprofit entities: Public Housing
Residents Going Places Inc.; the Community Development Corp.; and Community
Housing Development. Funding comes from People's Bank Hartford, the Connecticut
Development Authority and various federal grants administered by the city
Korris' company built the site and is now looking to fill the Midland Farms
retail space, he said. And even though the hoped-for tenant won't be showing
up, Korris is still optimistic, he said.
"There's a lot of activity on the shopping center and we're very pleased
with the response we've gotten to the location," Korris said.
Six other stores in the complex are either open or soon will be, including
a Family Dollar, an Expressions, a laundromat, a Chinese restaurant, a beauty
supply store and a Cingular Wireless store, Korris said. Other than the Midland
Farms site, only one other space remains vacant - the 2,000 square feet that
were to be occupied by clothing store J. Silver, which is no longer in business,
Attempts to reach Midland Farms and its attorney were unsuccessful Friday,
as were efforts to reach Public Housing Residents Going Places.
But Frederick E. Smith, executive director
of ONE/CHANE, said that the North End wants a supermarket, adding that
the closest one is in Windsor. "There
certainly is a need for there to be one," he said.
The 2000 Census suggests that Clay-Arsenal is the poorest neighborhood in
Hartford. Hartford's poverty rate is 31 percent, the second-highest among
large American cities. But in the blocks near Main and Pavilion streets,
the poverty rate is greater than 50 percent. More than half of all households
don't have a car, and one in 10 homes doesn't have a telephone.
The hope for Metro Center is to bring retail to the residents, officials
Korris said that his company is now looking
for someone to open a supermarket in what would have been the Midland Farms
location. "People showed interest
before we made the deal with Midland Farms," he said.
The city helped fund the project with $1.2 million in federal loans and
roughly $800,000 in federal community development block grants, said John
F. Palmieri, the city's director of development services.
The city has been aware of the trouble
with Midland Farms, Palmieri said. "Our
intention is to work with the development group to help them identify a replacement
tenant," Palmieri said. "We'd like to see a grocery store, the
neighborhood expected a grocery to be in place ... and that's really
the endgame for us."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at