Category: urban renewal

Random Facts from Open Data: Zones

By , September 29, 2014 8:23 am

Until last week, zoning regulations did not permit a stadium in the B-1 district (Downtown Development District), the area the covers most of Downtown.

If City officials had met for over a year discussing the possibility of a baseball stadium when one had not been allowed where they were seeking to build it, one might ask what else is or is not allowed in different sections of Hartford.

At the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting where this matter was being discussed, there was also confusion about if a brewery — one of the proposed items for the Downtown North re-development project — would be permitted in this area.

Package stores are allowed, as evidenced by the existence of Spiritus Wines. There is no shortage of bars — see Allyn Street, Union Place, Asylum Street, and Ann Uccello Street. There are restaurants that serve beer and wine, along with the hard stuff.

But a brewery is different. There is manufacturing, not just serving or selling. This introduces the question of scale. Would the beverages brewed on site be only available for retail, or would larger, wholesale orders be filled?

The Planning & Zoning Commission defines brew pub as:

any building where beer is manufactured, stored, and bottled, with retail sale of alcoholic liquor to be consumed on the premises with or without the sale of food, with retail sale of sealed bottles or other sealed containers of beer brewed on such premises for consumption off the premises, and with wholesale sales of sealed bottles or other sealed containers of beer brewed on such premises, and as otherwise defined and regulated by the Liquor Control Act of the general statutes.

A former restriction on brew pubs in this area required that manufactured beverages be consumed on site only, and that the production area be no more than 2000SF.

This is no longer the case. What had been allowed in B-1 is also permitted in I-2 (Industrial District, mostly North Meadows and South Meadows), C-1 (Commercial District), and B-2 (Downtown Perimeter District). While a brew pub may exist in B-1, it requires a special permit.

Where, then, did the rumors come from that a brew pub would not be permitted in Downtown? Likely an outdated document found in the City website.

Get in the Zone for Economic Development

Nobody is arguing that Hartford does not need to diversify its types of employment. We can’t and shouldn’t all be working for insurance companies and nail salons. But, some have questioned if the proposed types of development in Downtown North fits Hartford’s needs. What could we have besides or instead of  a minor league baseball stadium? Continue reading 'Random Facts from Open Data: Zones'»

What is Allowed in Downtown North?

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By , September 17, 2014 12:50 pm

With another hearing on the Downtown North Redevelopment Plan tonight, residents might want to know how this fits in with One City, One Plan — Hartford’s plan of conservation and development which underwent a long process involving many public meetings of its own. Links to that document have been disappeared from the City of Hartford website in recent days, making that task impossible to those who did not have the foresight to download or obtain personal copies of the document meant to guide City development over the next ten years.

Here is the document for readers to peruse:

Downtown Development OCOP

There was also a document created in 2009 by the Perez administration. In this, the vision for the Trumbull-Main area is spelled out: residential, small offices, small-scale retail, and small service businesses. Continue reading 'What is Allowed in Downtown North?'»

Heaven, Two Months In

By , September 12, 2014 4:53 pm

If anyone worried this park would get no use, those concerns can be put to rest. Morning, noon, or night, any day of the week, Heaven is getting use. Continue reading 'Heaven, Two Months In'»

Land Purchases Approved for Downtown North Area

By , August 12, 2014 1:57 pm

Exactly one person spoke favorably about the stadium deal during Monday’s public hearing, yet members of City Council went ahead and approved the three Downtown North land purchases anyway, two of which are directly connected — either in print or geographically — to the proposed stadium.

Raquel, the one voice overtly supporting the stadium, said that “Hartford is a dead city” and that if people are out of work, it is nobody’s fault but their own. It’s not the City’s responsibility to get people to work, she said. That was the message in between her continued support for the stadium. No statistics, no research. The City is here to provide entertainment, she implied, but not jobs.

Ten individuals — eight residents, one former resident, and one individual moving into Hartford soon — spoke against the stadium plan. One woman did not speak directly about the stadium, but said that the “city looks like crap” and that it is a “dead land.” Continue reading 'Land Purchases Approved for Downtown North Area'»

City Council to Consider Multiple Property Acquisitons in Downtown North

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By , August 10, 2014 11:37 am

Last year when the Downtown North Plan was in development, after viewing renderings of retail and housing, some of the public questioned who would suddenly be investing in a part of the city that had been allowed to fall into disrepair for decades. In the last week, those same questions have been asked as the City of Hartford was initially reluctant to release any information about the four proposals it received, three of which were said to meet the RFP criteria. CV Properties LLC — addresses in Southport, CT and Boston — proposed a stadium, garage, and municipal building. Leyland Alliance — addresses in Middletown, CT and  Tuxedo Park, NY — proposed a stadium, municipal office space, residential units, retail including a grocery store, restaurants, and a brewery. Thomas Hooker Brewing Company of Bloomfield, CT proposed a new location for its brewery. It’s expected that a recommendation will be made to City Council in September.

But on Monday, there are three reports on Downtown North being given to City Council from its Planning and Economic Development Committee. Continue reading 'City Council to Consider Multiple Property Acquisitons in Downtown North'»

Opposition to Publicly-Funded Stadium Marches Down Main Street

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By , July 21, 2014 10:46 pm

Justin Eichenlaub and Kate Bergren of Hartford

Over fifty residents walked from 1212 Main Street to City Hall on Monday during rush hour to tell representatives that they oppose the use of public money for building the proposed Rock Cats stadium.

Wildaliz Bermudez of Hartford

Various media outlets have misreported Continue reading 'Opposition to Publicly-Funded Stadium Marches Down Main Street'»

Heaven’s Open

By , July 13, 2014 1:54 pm

Photo courtesy of Andy Hart

Continue reading 'Heaven’s Open'»

Marketing “Downtown North”

By , April 3, 2014 5:30 am

After a series of frustrating public meetings culminating with one during which designers filibustered as dozens of (mostly) young Heaven supporters waited all evening to speak, we are now seeing a first draft of MECA’s (Marketing, Events & Cultural Affairs for the City of Hartford) Downtown North marketing brochure. This will include additional materials tailored to whichever developer might be requesting such information.  Continue reading 'Marketing “Downtown North”'»

Opportunity or Charade? BOE Talks Money for School Design

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By , January 9, 2014 7:04 pm

The Burns Latino Studies Academy on Putnam Street has been named as a potential applicant for the Commissioner’s Network in school year 2014-2015.

After Board of Education members were sworn in without fanfare on Tuesday, the conversation picked up basically where it left off last year, but with some unexpected contributors to the dribs and drabs of critical thinking.

The Minimalist and Inadequate Explanation of What the Lighthouse School and Commissioner’s Network Are

The “Lighthouse School” is part of the new Sheff agreement. The Sheff v. O’Neill case agreement was approved in Connecticut’s Superior Court. That’s legally binding, folks. According to Kathleen England, “there’s ample funding across three years to support” the school chosen for a Lighthouse School redesign. The amount being promised is $750,000 per year for at least three years. England said that the school selected would be one making progress rather than at the bottom, but that the neighborhood the school is in would also need to be “on the cusp of improving.” To be eligible, the school would also need to be a neighborhood, non-magnet with what the Hartford Public Schools is calling “potential for natural diversity.” There is a tight timeline for the selection and application process. England says that “it’s a great opportunity” for schools “to get financial commitment,” to “maybe take a design you have in place and take it and make it more robust.” With this process, she said, it would “absolutely” remain a neighborhood school and not become a magnet school. This would be money to enrich existing design. The Global Communications Academy IB was named as a potential candidate.

The Commissioner’s Network, in contrast, has been around a few years and already taken in one of our public schools– Milner. For 3-5 years, the school district loses complete control over the public school, but according to State Department of Education documents, there will be a “transition” of the school as it leaves the Commissioner’s Network. Operating expenses must still be provided by the local school board while it is potentially “partnered” with another not-for-profit management organization. When Milner entered the Commissioner’s Network, the school was closed down, teachers told they would have to reapply for their jobs, and then re-opened as Jumoke Academy Honors at Milner. This time around, Superintendent Kishimoto says HPS is not necessarily suggesting a change in school leadership and not talking about a closure because there is not time for that. Kishimoto is continuing to push for America’s Choice at SAND and Clark Elementary School to apply to the Commissioner’s Network.

But It’s More Complicated Than That, So Keep Reading. This isn’t Reader’s Digest

There was insistence that a Lighthouse School would not be turned into a magnet model, but Kishimoto said that there is possibly legislation being drafted that could make this model a magnet. There are a number of unknowns. Continue reading 'Opportunity or Charade? BOE Talks Money for School Design'»

Grid, Interrupted: The Bushnell Neighborhood

By , January 6, 2014 8:51 am

Today Real Hartford introduces a new series: Grid, Interrupted. This will be a glimpse at some of a street or block’s history.

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A recent piece in the Courant painted a kind of dreamer’s dream. It reported that the State of Connecticut’s laboratory building, pictured above, is being vacated and is potentially slated for demolition. The Bushnell is eying this spot for condominiums and apartments. Other desired changes to this area: retail and restaurants. A potential change: a parking garage on part of a surface lot and the possibility of a garage elsewhere with (maybe) housing and (maybe) a restaurant surrounding it.

Lovely, ain’t it?

But what the iQuilt supporters have skated around is obvious and simple: no neighborhood is going to exist until all those hideous and isolating surface lots are dealt with, seriously. Continue reading 'Grid, Interrupted: The Bushnell Neighborhood'»

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