September 9, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Developers with competing visions of what is best for the intersection
of Park and Main streets in Hartford - the gateway to the Latino
community - made their pitches to the city redevelopment agency
No action was taken at the meeting, but new details were disclosed on the
two proposals, which were submitted this summer.
Most significant, one developer said its proposal
would need less than half the government subsidy first proposed, and the
other said the two towers it planned could grow even higher.
Brothers Joseph and Frank Citino of Providian Builders proposed a $26 million,
five-story, antique-looking complex with apartment, retail and office space
and parking. Providian, of Hartford, plans 75 apartments, 57 units of retail
space and 88 business spaces. They revised their numbers to say that they
needed less than $2 million of government assistance, not the $5 million
"We have a space here on the corner of Park and Main that I think is
essential to bridge the gap between three very important communities in the
city," Joseph Citino said, referring to the South End, Park Street,
Agency member John Harris asked whether Citino's project took into account
the neighborhood's existing families.
Citino said the parcel is not suited for families, but many of the future
developments that could result from the proposal would be suitable for families
Agency Chairman Jose Del Castillo asked how well the Citinos' prior building
experience in residential housing prepared them for a large, mixed-use project.
"We're builders," Citino responded. "Give
us a set of blueprints, we'll build the trade centers."
In a competing plan, a group of Hispanic
city businessmen, working as Solaris Group LLC, have partnered with developer
Theodore M. Amenta of A & Co.,
LLC. Together, as Plaza Mayor LLC, they at first proposed a $64 million
complex with two high-rise residential towers of 10 and 17 stories. The
project would include more than 40 condominiums, a banquet hall, a boutique
hotel, a chapel, parking and a 40,000-square-foot square called Plaza Mayor.
Amenta said the towers could grow to more than 20 stories each with improved
views and fewer units per floor. The plans are still in the works, he said.
The plan would use $24 million in private equity, but would need more than
$17 million in government assistance. The profit made on the residential
units would subsidize the loss the developers expect to take on the retail,
The partners in Solaris Group include Carlos M. Lopez, Angel Sierra, Carlos
Valinho, Cesar Mejia and Alexander Aponte, the city's former top lawyer.
Harris, who again expressed his concern
about displacing neighborhood residents, said the towers are "kind
of sticking up like a sore thumb."
In referencing the towers, Amenta said
the project was conceived "in
response to what we think the community feels, and that is: Appeal
to people's aspirations, don't appeal to the obvious market."
Toward the end of the presentation, Citino,
of Providian, asked whether he could ask "a very important question" of
Amenta, and prodded his competition about pricing and other financial information.
The question got both a response from Amenta and an objection from Miguel
Matos, a board member of the Capital City Economic Authority and a former
paid consultant to the Solaris group.
"It is very unfair and not right to be giving the competing proposers
the opportunity to grill our team," said Matos, prefacing his comment
by saying he was speaking as a regular citizen, not as an interested party. "I
just wanted that on the record."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at