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Metro Center Loses Market

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 said Friday.

"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 of Hartford.

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, Korris said.

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 have said.

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 http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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