East Armory: A new roof and facade help move great project forward
Hartford Courant Editorial
July 30, 2012
When Sam Colt put a blue onion dome on his factory in the mid-19th century, it was to make an impression on travelers passing on the Connecticut River. The factory is about to make a good impression again, this time on passengers by car.
The massive metal roof of the East Armory, the brick and brownstone building under the dome that adjoins I-91, is being replaced for the first time in more than a century, reports The Courant's Ken Gosselin. The work is about 50 percent completed. New windows will follow as part of a renovation of the building's facade.
The roofing work will allow tenants to move into the building, another major step in the adaptive reuse of what was once the world's largest private armory. The tenant will be two school programs run by the Capitol Region Education Council, which already has a major presence in the Colt complex. Another major tenant is headed for the South Armory. That building also has 50 apartments, with 79 more on the way.
It has been a step-at-a-time struggle for more than 15 years; the project has gone through several developers. But now the stars appear aligned to complete this great project.
The city and state are enthusiastically behind it. The state's congressional delegation, spearheaded by Rep. John Larson, has a bill to make the complex a National Historic Park, an effort that has the support of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The current developer, the tax-credit-investing arm of oil-giant Chevron, has the resources to finish the job.
This could be a major step forward for Hartford, a magnet for tourists, scholars, residents, artists, small business owners and others. The complex is on a rail line and near the river, opening lots of transportation and recreation possibilities. It could extend downtown to the south, spurring more development. So keep your fingers crossed.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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