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Ned Lamont Announces $36.5M for Community Revitalization Program

Connecticut’s Communities Challenge Grant program will award eight grants to communities across the state to help fund revitalization projects in an effort to spur job growth. Half of the funds will go to “distressed” communities.

a parking lot near the corner of Park Street and Bartholomew Avenue in Hartford, Conn.
A parking lot near the corner of Park Street and Bartholomew Avenue in Hartford, Conn., would be developed with housing wrapped around a parking garage. (Kenneth R. Gosselin/TNS)
(TNS) — A planned redevelopment, in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford, Conn., that would create apartments and build on efforts to strengthen the Parkville Arts & Innovation District is in line for a $5.5 million grant from a state program launched in 2021

The Hartford grant is one of eight totaling $36.5 million announced this week by Gov. Ned Lamont in the second round of the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program. The program aims to help fund revitalization projects that will help spur job growth. Half of the grant funds must go to “distressed” communities.

The $16.7 million project at the corner of Park Street and Bartholomew Avenue in Hartford’s Parkville would create 57 rentals in a new, 5-story building, with 30 percent planned as “affordable,” or restricted to certain incomes.

The apartments would be above first-floor commercial spaces and would be wrapped around a 352-space parking garage connected by a pedestrian bridge to the nearby CTfastrak station. The garage, providing much-needed parking, would be financed separately. The grant announced this week would be used for the apartment construction.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the neighborhood has seen “a tremendous amount of organic growth and we want to reinforce and accelerate that growth.”

“There are a number of important historic properties that we hope to rehabilitate and give new life in Parkville, but this is ground-up construction project that helps knit that Bartholomew Avenue corridor together,” Bronin said.

The project would replace an existing surface lot at 17-35 Bartholomew Ave. The redevelopment would be led by Carlos A. Mouta, a major developer and property owner in the area, in partnership with nonprofit Hands On Hartford and the Hartford Parking Authority.

The second round of the program also awarded these grants in Greater Hartford:

— $1.6 million to Berlin for the construction of 10 mixed-income rental units at Newport Center across from the train station, half of which will be reserved for families making less than 80 percent of the area median income. A portion of the grant also will be used to improve pedestrian amenities and open space walking trails.

— $4 million to New Britain for redeveloping a historic building on West Main Street to include 79 residential units, 20 percent that will be affordable at various income levels; a street-level restaurant and a rooftop restaurant and bar. The project, developed by Avon at 102 LLC will cost $17.5 million.

The Parkville project in Hartford is part of a larger, ambitious $250 million plan to raise the city’s profile as a hub for digital innovation and advanced manufacturing.

Earlier this year, the city applied for nearly $50 million from the state’s innovation corridor grant program that would be used to fund redevelopment of a dozen properties in the Parkville innovation district. New Haven and Stamford also applied for funding, but, so far, no grants have been announced.

A spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Community Development said, “No applicants have yet met the program requirements.” The spokesman declined to elaborate.

A brick building in the snow in Hartford, Conn.
The city of Hartford has negotiated an option to purchase the Champlin Packrite Co. building for $2.1 million. (Kenneth R. Gosselin/TNS)

One hurdle for cities applying for the grant is the stipulation that the state funding contribute no more than 20 percent to the creation of an innovation corridor, ensuring that there is strong financial commitment from other sources. Those include investors from the private sector. The requirement seeks to make sure projects are economically viable.

Separately, Bronin has asked the city council to consider purchasing another property at 81 Bartholomew Ave. for future redevelopment. The city has an option on the property — an historic factory now owned by the Champlin-Packrite Co. — for $2.1 million.

In addition to Hartford, Berlin and New Britain, grants under the Communities Challenge program were awarded to Fairfield, Groton, Naugatuck, Stamford and Torrington.

©2022 Hartford Courant. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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