“These make us look like the Village People,” Mayor Segarra commented while he and other officials donned construction helmets before digging with their ceremonial shovels at Friday afternoon’s groundbreaking for the “Capewell Townhomes.”
Although plans had been announced months ago for the development of townhouses on the vacant parcel of land between Wyllys Street and Popieluszco Court, some details have changed. In August, the Corporation for Independent Living (CIL) noted that it would be created 24 units of low income housing in this area, but on Friday, they reported plans for sixteen townhouses, with half facing Wyllys and half facing Popieluszco. A nod was given to the Capewell Horseshoe Nail Factory, which has vegetation growing out of its walls. There was no mention about what plans existed for the old factory itself, but Larson “guaranteed” that nearby Coltsville will receive National Historic Park status.
Martin Legault, President and CEO of CIL, said they “should have a ribbon cutting by next June,” though a press release from the City of Hartford stated that construction should be completed by September 2013, with homeowners able to move in by December 2013. Legault called this project the “fastest [...] we have ever done,” and thanked Mayor Segarra for that. Segarra admitted to being “impatient” when processes take longer than he believes necessary.
The big news was that the $3.8 million HUD grant was officially approved. Bernadine Silvers, speaking on behalf of the Coalition to Strengthen the Sheldon-Charter Oak Neighborhood (CSS-CON), said she was “pleased to welcome construction of new townhouses” and was “so grateful that something is starting here.” This property, she said, would increase homeownership. Segarra said that the units would accommodate the current need that Hartford has, which is for single-family housing. Legault emphasized that the townhouses were not condos or co-ops, but actual single-family homes.
In recent years there has been much ado about luring young professionals into living downtown, while many have felt that the needs for adequate family housing have been ignored. The townhouses will be located just outside of downtown; it is a five minute walk from the site to City Hall. Barbara Fields, the New England Regional Administrator of HUD, said of the site’s neighborhood: “this is a community.” Senator Blumenthal called this development a “model for the rest of the country.”
Model or not, Fields pointed out that “this property will go back on the tax roll” and that “housing means jobs.”
Senator Larson was also on hand to comment on what he called the “synergistic development going on in the city.” Of Segarra, Larson said, “this mayor has spent more time in Washington D.C. lobbying on your behalf.” Segarra called Larson “an inspiration.”
CIL was involved in the Mortson/Putnam Heights project in Frog Hollow, along with the Wyllys/Lisbon Cooperative housing in the Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood.