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Park Street's Promise

July 6, 2004

Empty lots are detriments to the renaissance of Park Street, one of Hartford's most promising residential and commercial neighborhoods.

Those eyesores can be removed if various stakeholders cooperate. The Spanish American Merchants Association is right to focus on a five-block section between Main and Washington streets. If that stretch is to become vibrant, it must be lined with inviting stores and restaurants.

The goal of remaking Park Street will move appreciably forward once contractors complete a $6 million streetscape plan, including new paving, brick crosswalks, sidewalks and ornamental lighting, from Park Terrace to Main Street.

A key piece of property, on the southwest corner of Park and Hudson streets, is owned by the state. A 20-story state office building is set behind surface parking along Park Street.

That site would be ideal for a strip of retail stores. SAMA wants to work out an agreement under which the state would lease a slice of land to retailers.

To offset the loss of surface parking spaces, a multi-level garage could be constructed behind the state building, which houses the Department of Children and Families and other agencies.

New retail activity on the site would benefit both neighborhood residents and employees who work in the high-rise building -- and would attract visitors.

One occupant of the state building is the Department of Economic and Community Development, which has worked with SAMA on projects. Surely DECD officials see the value of bustling retail activity outside their windows.

SAMA also will need the backing of the Department of Public Works, which is responsible for state property.

In addition to the state-owned parking lot, other lots on the street also could be turned into storefronts. An unsightly auto repair business offers another opportunity for retail development. Perhaps the most crucial corner is Park and Main -- the gateway to the Park Street neighborhood. The city plans to solicit proposals for development of what is now a wasteland on the north and south sides of the corner.

SAMA, property owners and state officials should work together to make Park Street a showcase as New England's Hispanic Main Street.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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