Empty lots are detriments
to the renaissance of Park Street, one of Hartford's most promising
residential and commercial neighborhoods.
Those eyesores can be removed if various stakeholders cooperate.
The Spanish American Merchants Association is right to focus
on a five-block section between Main and Washington streets.
If that stretch is to become vibrant, it must be lined with inviting
stores and restaurants.
The goal of remaking Park Street will move appreciably forward
once contractors complete a $6 million streetscape plan, including
new paving, brick crosswalks, sidewalks and ornamental lighting,
from Park Terrace to Main Street.
A key piece of property, on the southwest corner of Park and
Hudson streets, is owned by the state. A 20-story state office
building is set behind surface parking along Park Street.
That site would be ideal for a strip of retail stores. SAMA
wants to work out an agreement under which the state would lease
a slice of land to retailers.
To offset the loss of surface parking spaces, a multi-level
garage could be constructed behind the state building, which
houses the Department of Children and Families and other agencies.
New retail activity on the site would benefit both neighborhood
residents and employees who work in the high-rise building --
and would attract visitors.
One occupant of the state building is the Department of Economic
and Community Development, which has worked with SAMA on projects.
Surely DECD officials see the value of bustling retail activity
outside their windows.
SAMA also will need the backing of the Department of Public
Works, which is responsible for state property.
In addition to the state-owned parking lot, other lots on the
street also could be turned into storefronts. An unsightly auto
repair business offers another opportunity for retail development.
Perhaps the most crucial corner is Park and Main -- the gateway
to the Park Street neighborhood. The city plans to solicit proposals
for development of what is now a wasteland on the north and south
sides of the corner.
SAMA, property owners and
state officials should work together to make Park Street a
showcase as New England's Hispanic Main Street.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at