Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood continues to attract creative people. (Patrick Raycraft | Hartford Courant)
An effort to redevelop the towering, long-vacant boiler plant in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood has gained momentum, winning $125,000 in private investment to help convert the decrepit structure into apartments.
City nonprofit Hands on Hartford is moving ahead with a plan to transform the 1900s plant on Bartholomew Avenue, a part of the Spaghetti Warehouse complex, into 30 apartment units. The project is expected to cost $11.97 million, with a large chunk covered by a loan from the state Department of Housing. The $4.4 million loan still needs approval from the State Bond Commission, and had been delayed by the state budget gridlock.
During the wait, Hands on Hartford employees applied for and won a grant from TD Bank that steers $125,000 toward the project. A check was presented to the group.
The nonprofit also is pursuing state and federal tax credits for historical buildings and federal low-income housing tax credits. The units will be offered as “affordable housing” — aimed at households earning $14,875 to $49,300.
“This block has been crying for redevelopment for years,” said Barbara Shaw, executive director of Hands on Hartford. “This adds another vibrant and noticeable architecture to the skyline and to the neighborhood.”
A number of businesses have sprung up in the area recently. Hog River Brewery, across the street from the aging plant, opened last year, and Parkville boasts a new screen printing company and recording studio.
Gov. Dannel Malloy visited companies there in July, and held the neighborhood up as an example of how transportation could spur development. The regional CTFastrak bus service began running through Parkville in 2015.
The state awarded the city $2 million in 2016 to improve the streetscape and infrastructure along Bartholomew.
“We saw it moving in the right direction,” said Ben Braddock, who owns Hog River Brewery with his wife, Joy. “So we thought we should get our foot in on the ground floor and see what happens.”
“I think the younger generations, they see what’s going on down here,” he said. “It’s not like you’re going to West Hartford Center and there’s a craft fair in the town hall parking lot. It’s more of an urban setting, and there are a lot of really creative things going on.”
Carlos Mouta, who owns several buildings in the neighborhood, said the boiler plant conversion is a welcome addition.
More than a hundred housing units have been added in Parkville recently, he said, and another 100 are expected in the next five years.
“The more housing, the better,” said Mouta, who is considering plans for a food market on nearby Park Street. “When you look at neighborhoods, it’s all about who the landlords are — if the landlords have a stake in the community or don’t have any stake in the community.
Hands on Hartford leaders “are very good landlords,” he said. “I’m very excited about it.”
Hands on Hartford purchased the Troutbrook Grille & Brewhouse property — which includes the former Spaghetti Warehouse and boiler plant — in 2014 with the aim of relocating its offices, then on Main Street, to Parkville and renovating some of the structures. It paid $1.8 million for the lot.
A groundbreaking for the apartment project is planned for spring 2018. Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2019.