Finding The Right Mix To Fulfill Hartford’s Housing Demand
Submitted By Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA)
May 09, 2013
It’s like that old game, “Operation”, one mistake could have you going back to square one. Just like any procedure, execution is a delicate proposition. It is the same concept when talking about employing the right components to drive successful economic development in Hartford. There is no definitive formula that guarantees successful urban renewal, but most economic development experts agree that getting people living and working in downtown areas is important to a city’s revitalization.
The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA or the Authority) is currently working with the goal of 3000 units of housing in its district and was granted $60 million by the state legislature to use as assistance for larger projects with the best potential and some smaller ones that just need a supplemental amount of financial support for completion. Trumbull on the Park, Hartford 21 and Lofts at Main and Temple, built through private and public funding, experience between 96 to 100 percent occupancy on a regular basis. Developers looking to invest in the Hartford market have come to recognize the potential of the multi-unit rental property’s ability to perform. The City is in the process of conducting a comprehensive housing study, but preliminary research shows a steady demand for residential units. The tricky part comes in knowing just how much and the appropriate mix of housing to create that will appeal to the broadest rental market.
Re-establishing the Greater Hartford campus of UConn and moving state workers to existing empty office buildings will go a long way in creating the critical mass necessary to support downtown businesses. However, urban centers are not just for students and young professionals, they have also become a major attractor of “empty-nesters”. Many couples, who no longer want the responsibilities of managing a large home and property in the suburbs after the kids are gone, are looking to downsize and move closer to restaurants, shops and activities that city life offers. CRDA, working closely with the City, is already considering assistance for three well-know housing proposals: On the Plaza (the old Sonesta Hotel), 777 Main Street (the former Bank of America headquarters), and Front Street within Adriaen’s Landing. The type of assistance such as a loan, equity investment or grant, will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“All are prime locations and present some of the best opportunities for growth in the downtown residential population”, says Michael Freimuth, CRDA executive director. “The more downtown dwellers we have, the stronger the probability of luring amenities such as grocery stores, dry cleaners and retail”. These projects will provide 1000 new units of housing.
So far, the proposals are a healthy mix of new construction and the repurposing of existing structures. It’s a mix that will stimulate new business, higher employment and lead to a more vibrant greater Hartford region.