Although Hartford's Park Street is still a few pieces short of becoming the Latino wonderland that merchants and property owners envisioned it would be six years ago when they proposed converting it into New England's Hispanic main street, the commercial strip is light years ahead of what it was then.
Few would have even imagined that the Park Street special services district would be inaugurating an old-fashioned trolley car last month offering free transportation up and down Park Street Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Or that plans are afoot to extend the route to Parkville, the Connecticut Convention Center at Adriaen's Landing and the state Capitol.
The green trolley, which is leased from Double-A Transportation in Rocky Hill, was made possible through a grant from the state legislature. As a symbol of the visible progress that has come to Park Street, it can't be beat.
Also, near completion is the $6 million first phase of a streetscape project that included repaving of the streets, decorative sidewalks, trees and ornamental lampposts.
Much of the second phase, which consists of Spanish-style building facades and 50 surveillance cameras, could wrap up within the next 30 to 45 days.
Where the district appears to be slipping is in realizing plans for the Plaza Mayor gateway to Park Street at the intersection of Park and Main streets, and the plans to renovate the derelict Lyric Theater building at Broad and Park streets into a library/cultural center.
Groundbreaking for Plaza Mayor, which includes a pair of six-story residential buildings with 42 luxury condominium units, has been stalled for months, apparently because of a failure to secure financing - this despite a $6 million commitment from the city.
Plans for the Lyric, under the aegis of the Broad-Park Development Corp., have followed a parallel path - all talk, no action.
Were both projects to get off the ground, it would bring the Park Street revival almost to completion. Let's get moving.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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