HARTFORD — Federal and city officials, politicians and neighborhood residents celebrated Friday at the site where a long-awaited affordable housing development project is to be built in Hartford's Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood.
But the future use of the deteriorating former Capewell Horseshoe Nail factory adjacent to that site remains unclear.
David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said Friday that after months of legal work, the factory's new owner, Boxer Hartford Office Space, has gained control of the site and is taking steps to protect and stablize the 108-year-old brick building.
But environmental testing of the structure from top to bottom is required before the building's future use can be determined. And that testing is expected to take six to eight months, Panagore said Friday.
Depending on what's there," he said, "it could be some housing and it could be some commercial."
Panagore said he expects that a remediation plan will be implemented, federal and state funding will be identified, and work to restore the building will begin by next summer.
"We do not want to see this site lie fallow past this winter," he said.
Meanwhile, work is expected to begin on the affordable-housing project near the Capewell factory by Tuesday, and project officials hope to put units on the market by next June.
In the first phase of the project — funded in part by a $3.8 million federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grant — four three-story buildings with a total of 16 units will be constructed. Two of the buildings will face Wyllys Street and two will face Popieluszko Court. They will be designed to fit in with the redeveloped Dutch Point housing project on Wyllys Street.
The second phase — aided by an additional $900,000 in HUD grants — will include eight more units.
The Corporation for Independent Living will develop and sell the units to buyers whose household income is at or below 80 percent of the Hartford area's median income, according to Martin M. Legault, president of CIL.
The HUD grant will keep the cost of the sale prices down, Legault said, but the total cost of the project and the sale prices of the 12 three-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units in the first phase are still being determined.
Friday's celebration was attended by Legault, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Congressman John Larson, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Bernadine Silvers, president emeritus of the neighborhood group the Coaltion to Strengthen the Sheldon-Charter Oak Neighborhood.
Silvers, who moved into the neighborhood in 1970, said the idea to develop housing on the 2.5 acre site adjacent to the factory had been discussed for more than 27 years. She praised Segarra and HUD for their efforts.
"We're grateful that something is finally happening," Silvers said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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