A little over three years ago Farmington businessman Dan Hincks made a bet that buying and converting a small vaudeville theater in Norfolk into a live music venue would spur economic success.
Since opening in late 2008 in the state's sleepy northwest corner the venue — called Infinity Hall — has attracted nationally known performers including Kenny Rankin, Marcia Ball, and Spyro Gyra, and added a bistro restaurant and bar.
In December, the music house reported its best ticket sales ever.
Now it appears Hincks is eyeing a similar bet in downtown Hartford.
Hincks's Infinity Music Hall is the company currently in negotiations to open a live music venue in Hartford's Front Street development, The Hartford Business Journal has learned.
Although details about the plans remain under wraps, Hincks recently formed a limited liability company called Infinity Hall Hartford, which is looking to raise $3.5 million from investors to make the music venue a reality.
The Farmington-based LLC, whose partners include Brian Gallagher of Simsbury and Robin Fuhrman of Unionville, was formed in October, according to records from the Secretary of the State's office.
It's not clear, however, how close the company is to signing a lease.
Hincks declined to comment on the story. Front Street developer Peter Christian said he would not talk about potential tenants who have not yet signed a lease.
But in December, Infinity Hall Hartford LLC filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining plans to raise $3.5 million in equity investments. The filing did not specify what the money would be used for, but sources say Hincks has been negotiating to open a Front Street venue for months.
Sources say the music venue would require more than a $3.5 million investment, so the equity raise is only part of the financing equation.
If Infinity Hall does eventually finalize a deal to open in Front Street, it would create significant momentum for a project that has gotten off to a slow start.
Front Street is the final phase of Adriaen's Landing, the state and privately-funded residential, retail and commercial development intended to attract activity to downtown Hartford.
The plan includes the existing Connecticut Convention Center, Connecticut Science Center and the 409-room Marriott Hartford Hotel.
Infinity Hall has had a positive impact in Norfolk, officials say, bringing in new visitors and spurring business for local taverns, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts.
It has even received national attention in the New York Times and CNN.
Front Street, which also includes a yet-to-be-built residential component, has had its difficulties gaining traction.
The long-awaited project finished construction in 2010 but has remained vacant since that time. Spotlight Theatres Inc., which announced in March plans open a movie theater, has finalized its lease and begun construction on a 20,000-square-foot space in the building on the south side of the Front Street complex, located across the street from the convention center.
It could open by the summer.
The music venue would be Front Street's second tenant in the 66,000-square-foot development.
The project's broker, Dan Dori, declined to comment on Infinity Hall, but he has said in the past that there were negotiations with a live music venue as well as potential restaurant tenants.
Still, deals are taking longer than ever, especially as access to credit has become more difficult for businesses.
The goal of Front Street from the start has been to attract tenants that would be unique to Greater Hartford, making the venue an attractive nighttime destination to those living in the suburbs.
A music hall would fit that bill.
In Norfolk, Hincks has transformed a once defunct vaudeville into a 300-seat entertainment venue that features a bistro restaurant and bar.
Hincks, who also runs a small specialty printing company called Data Management in Farmington, bought the property for $240,000 in 2007 at a public auction after the previous owners failed in an attempt to turn the site into a theater.
The theater re-launched as Infinity Hall in late 2008, with the restaurant opening a short time after that.
According to its web site, Infinity Hall hosts more than 200 music and entertainment shows annually by "quality national and regional artists."
Early this year, for example, Infinity Hall is hosting performances by Judy Collins, Joan Osborne, Coco Montoya, and Greg Brown.
Town officials say the music hall is a significant draw for the small town, which makes bringing a similar facility to a much larger Hartford market seem like a logical fit.
Whether a deal gets done remains to be seen.
"It certainly has brought people into town," said Norfolk First Selectwoman Susan M. Dyer. "It's had a positive impact."