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Demolition Planned to Clear Street for New Student Housing

By Kerri Provost

May 28, 2013

While an apartment building on Putnam Street was demolished after showing signs of impending collapse, multiple buildings with no apparent structural problems are being prepped for demolition a few streets away.

To make room for prefabricated student housing at Trinity College, existing buildings are entering the removal process. At the end of the semester, appliances were being hauled outdoors from Trinity-owned houses on the west side of Crescent Street.

The permitting process, Trinity’s Director of Media Relations Michele Jacklin said last week, had hit a snag; however, as of Tuesday morning, she said that the private developer responsible for obtaining permits has received approval for the site plan. She said that the building permits had not yet been secured and could not produce a specific date for the demolition process, but said that “everything is on schedule.”

A conversation with a construction worker last week yielded the information that demolition would be happening on Crescent Street this week.

According to a message from Jorge Lugo, of Trinity College Campus Safety, Connecticut Natural Gas will be excavating and installing pipe down Crescent Street from May 29-June 7th.

Trinity’s hope is to have the north side townhouses (Phase II) ready for move-in for the Spring 2014 semester.

Also in the plans is a retail component on New Britain Avenue. Here, Jacklin said, there was another obstacle, as a property owner on New Britain Avenue was not willing to vacate. To work around that, she said, the college decided to use a building on the west side, instead of east side, of Crescent Street.

The retail element is not expected to be a student-centered venture like a campus bookstore, as the absence of students during the summer break would mean a financial loss. Jacklin said that while Trinity College would not directly be the entity seeking the retailer, they know that a business like a coffee or sandwich shop would be more favorable.

This long-term housing project has not been without controversy, as the major construction has involved eviction of several tenants on Crescent Street. Jacklin said, “from our point of view there was no controversy,” saying that the situation was more like a “mountain out of a mole hill.”

During the 2010 evictions, one resident claimed she was not given the full ninety days notice. A source asking not to be named has said the eviction notices were not translated to Spanish by the college.

Jacklin said that what Trinity’s doing is no different than what other colleges, like UConn have done.

The difference, however, is that other area colleges have maintained stronger relations with the community in which they reside. There are still tensions with several Hartford neighborhoods following last year’s assault on a student which was initially blamed on Hartford residents. Trinity has since reached out to selected members of the community — not the community as a whole — to make some gesture of apology, but it is hard to forget what the record has been.

One person affiliated with the college, who has asked not to be named, said that this whole situation has been another case of “Trinity provides. Trinity can take that all away.”

Several individuals associated with Trinity College, none of whom would be named on the record, have said that they have been kept in the dark about the Crescent Street project.

Trinity College says the new townhouses will be energy-efficient and built to LEED Gold standards. It is common knowledge that the most green building is one that already exists.

The new constructions will significantly increase the number of student housing units. What is being called Phase I, the housing on the south side of Crescent Street, is expected to provide 150 housing units, ready for move-in, this August. Technically available for juniors and seniors, most of the units will be used by seniors in Fall 2013. Jacklin said that the “trend is toward these suites,” which she said help juniors and seniors make the “transition to adulthood.”

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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