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September 15, 2021

Developers planning 360-unit community at former Showcase Cinemas site in East Hartford

Photo | Contributed A rendering shows what a possible 477-unit development on the site of the demolished Showcase Cinemas multiplex in East Hartford would look like.

Plans are in the works to transform the now-leveled former Showcase Cinemas site in East Hartford into a market-rate, highly-amenitized community capable of drawing in new residents and spurring commercial activity in town.

On Monday, the East Hartford Town Council authorized Mayor Marcia Leclec to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for the Silver Lane location with New Britain-based Jasko Development and Zelman Real Estate of West Hartford, which are collaborating on the project.

The vote does not constitute a sale itself, and Jasko principal Avner Krohn and associates emphasized Tuesday that the overall effort is still in its “first inning.” The partners will have to develop plans that pass muster with different town bodies, including the Town Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission, and secure permits and tax agreements, a process that will likely take between 12 and 18 months.

Still, Krohn is optimistic. East Hartford has not seen a new housing development on this scale in years, he said, and the town would benefit immensely from drawing in professionals, including workers from Pratt & Whitney, as well as double-income households and active retirees who want to spend their money in the community where they live.

The development could also serve as a signal to commercial developers to bring more shopping and restaurant options to the area, a change some current East Hartford residents have told the council they would like to see.

Jasko and Zelman are planning around 360 units, including studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The units would be spread out over seven buildings, each either three- or four-stories tall. An eighth building would serve as a clubhouse, opening to a pool and cabana area.

The development would include lush landscaping, Krohn added, and outdoor features such as community gardens and a dog park.

“Every detail is being looked at,” he said. “This will be top-of-the-line construction at every level.”

Krohn said it was too early in the process to attach a dollar amount to the project but noted that it would likely be in line with similar developments in other nearby towns. He said he hopes to begin construction at some point next year.

Redevelopment of the Showcase Cinemas site has been a hotly contested issue in town for years. The theater closed in 2006, and its gradual decay made it a highly visible eyesore. The town eventually stepped in and bought the property, and the 66,000-square-foot building was demolished last year.

Before the Jasko-Zelman venture, the town had put out requests for proposals for development at the location, but no projects materialized.


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