NOURISHING HARTFORD • Proposal would be a boon to growing residential population
January 11, 2010
Hartford has taken major steps in recent years to turn downtown into a thriving mix of residential, retail, dining, office and cultural uses. One gaping hole has been the absence of a grocery store to serve a growing number of downtown residents.
But that might change soon, after the encouraging news that a grocer could open for business by summer at 410 Asylum St. That is the historic building that was turned into 70 mixed-income apartments by New York-based Common Ground, the nonprofit that has won national recognition for its efforts to end homelessness.
Others have promised to open grocery stores before, but each time plans have fallen through. This new proposal may have more credibility because of Common Ground's extraordinary track record. The nonprofit was founded two decades ago by Rosanne Haggerty, the West Hartford native who won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant for her successful efforts to move homeless people into subsidized apartments.
The proposed 5,000-square-foot grocery store adjacent to Bushnell Park would focus on basic foods rather than boutique fare. Common Ground has yet to name a company to run the store, but says several candidates are being considered.
This news comes just weeks after St. Joseph's College announced it will spent $5 million to outfit space for a pharmacy school in the Hartford 21 complex — another important boost to downtown rejuvenation. The pharmacy school plans to open this coming fall with 65 students and grow to 300 students in five years.
In the past decade, downtown Hartford has welcomed much new development, including the Science Center, the Convention Center, the Marriott Hotel, the XL Center and Hartford 21.
There have been setbacks of late — the Goodwin Hotel is closed, Hartford 21 is struggling to fill retail space and Metro Center has fallen into foreclosure. But the move by St. Joseph's College and now the prospect of a general grocery store nearby bring hope for a rebound.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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