Renovation Projects In Hartford's Asylum Hill To Receive State Funding
State Bond Commission Approved Grants Wednesday
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
March 13, 2013
HARTFORD —— Two renovation projects in the Asylum Hill neighborhood received a financial boost from the state Wednesday, including a $1 million grant for Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network's construction of an educational center for city students.
The parent company of Connecticut Public Television and WNPR is building a $3.5 million Learning Lab on the fourth and fifth floors of its Asylum Avenue headquarters, where seniors in the city's Journalism and Media Academy will take all their classes starting next school year.
The $1 million that the State Bond Commission approved Wednesday is part of about $2.5 million that the network has raised for the center, including commitments from corporations, foundations and individual donors, said Meg Sakellarides, the network's chief financial officer. Fundraising continues for the remaining $1 million.
The Hartford school system has a five-year agreement with the network — with the option of a five-year extension — to use the immersion lab that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto views as a capstone and career-building opportunity for the academy's students. Classrooms, production studios and an auditorium will be created in the estimated 20,000 square feet of space.
Construction began last month and should finish by late June, Sakellarides said.
The bond commission also approved $250,000 toward rehabilitating a 1926 blond-brick building on the corner of Ashley and Garden streets that had been blighted until recent façade improvements. The Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, which includes The Hartford Financial Services Group and Aetna as members, acquired the three-story, mixed-use property in 2010.
Overhauling the Zunner Building, named after the late Hartford architect who designed it, is projected to cost $1.7 million and could be completed by late 2013 or early 2014, the alliance has said. It has received corporate, city and now state funding.
The $250,000 grant will help restore four residential apartments on the second floor and create headquarters in one of the building's commercial spaces for the Hartford Community Loan Fund, a nonprofit lending agency, said state Rep. Matthew Ritter, D-Hartford, who pushed for both grants.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who serves as chairman of the bond commission, said the projects are important for the city and region.
"This funding will support affordable housing and education — both of which will bolster ongoing efforts to make Connecticut more competitive," Malloy said in a statement.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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