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September 22, 2023

2 developers eye Church Corners Inn project in East Hartford

CoStar 860 Main St., East Hartford.

Two development teams have come forward expressing interest in redeveloping the historic and troubled Church Corners Inn property in East Hartford.

East Hartford Development Director Eileen Buckheit said there’s interest from Parker Benjamin Inc., out of Unionville, and New York-based Vessel Technologies Inc.. Both responded to bids put out by the town for the renovation project.

Town officials have not yet met with the teams, Buckheit said, but each submitted very different proposals for the property.

Parker Benjamin, a real estate investment firm, would look to renovate the building, likely with historic tax credits, and build roughly 25 apartment units with retail on the main floor, and an eye toward historic preservation, Buckheit said.

Vessel, a housing product development company, proposed demolishing the inn and putting up a 50-unit apartment building in the company’s signature style of small, attainable apartments for middle-income residents.

Buckheit said provisions of the RFP call for renovation and not demolition, and that the town council is in favor of restoration.

The town bought the property at 860 Main St., in January for $950,000.

Town officials plan to sell the building to the selected developer, and are not looking to enter any public-private partnership, she said.

The town would, however, dedicate $750,000 to pre-development work. That is the balance of a $2.5 million Community Investment grant that was used to acquire the building and relocate residents. 

The property had been the scene of numerous police calls, unsavory activity and negative attention for downtown.

The town bought the building “specifically to mitigate our problems, and we’ve done that successfully,” Buckheit said.

Cost estimates for renovation are “still a guess on everyone’s part,” she said, as interior and environmental work is needed on the site.

However, she and other town officials are “very pleased with the potential,” for this site.

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