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December 2, 2022

Hartford eyes $2.1M purchase of Parkville neighborhood factory for redevelopment 

COSTAR 1 Bartholomew Ave., in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is asking the City Council to approve paying $2.1 million for a century-old, roughly 80,000-square-foot manufacturing building as part of a broad effort to revitalize the Parkville neighborhood.

Earlier this year, the city paid $25,000 for an option to purchase the property at 81 Bartholomew Ave., which is owned by the Champlin Packrite. The company handles packing and logistics for aerospace, manufacturing and industrial clients.

Attempts to reach Champlin were not immediately successful. Bronin said the company is consolidating out of the Bartholomew Avenue site and has put it up for sale. Earlier this year the city paid $25,000 for a purchase option, which was extendable through Feb. 28.

“It is a building that represents a very important piece of the puzzle in Parkville as we look for longer-term redevelopment efforts,” Bronin told the Hartford Business Journal.

Bronin put the $2.1 million purchase request before the City Council during its Nov. 28 meeting. The council referred the proposal to its Planning, Economic Development and Housing Committee for review.

The 81 Bartholomew Ave. building is one of the key properties in the city’s $242 million Parkville neighborhood revitalization plan, outlined in an application for a $48.4 million state “Innovation Corridor” grant.

The Innovation Corridor program is part of Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan to stimulate job growth in Connecticut. It sets aside a $100 million grant pool to leverage private dollars for transformative projects in a small number of grant recipient cities. Awards can range as high as $50 million.

Hartford, Stamford and New Haven submitted proposals by the March 4 deadline. The state had tentatively planned to make awards in April or May. But, months later, this has still not happened.

Bronin said the city continues to pursue the funding through the state Department of Economic and Community Development but declined comment as to why the grant award has been delayed. 

The city’s vision for Parkville includes an income-diverse neighborhood with access to housing, arts and recreation options that also hosts centers of advanced manufacturing training and innovation. The plan identifies 13 buildings, including 81 Bartholomew Ave., within a 55-acre target zone.

Hartford’s Innovation Corridor plan projects a $25 million overhaul of 81 Bartholomew Ave., inclusive of purchase cost. It would set aside 30,000 square feet to house technology-centered companies. Another 30,000 square feet would be allocated to the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, a nonprofit that helps companies adopt advanced technology. CCAT would use the space to partner with colleges and universities around advanced digital technology. Another 20,000 square feet would be used as co-working space open to all.

A rendering of redevelopment plans for 81 Bartholomew Ave. in Hartford.

“At its most basic level, The Factory is meant to be a nerve center for manufacturing excellence in Connecticut,” reads a portion of Hartford’s Innovation Corridor application pertinent to 81 Bartholomew Ave. “As a hub of world-class advanced manufacturing hardware and software solutions companies, The Factory is where those suppliers can get connected to the knowledge, support and partners they need to embrace Industry 4.0.”

The city’s application envisions using $7 million of the state’s funds at this site.

Even if that funding never materializes, Bronin said, city control of the property will be important to fostering Parkville redevelopment that is already underway. Bronin said it is possible the city would try to redevelop the property independently, or seek to hand it off to a private developer with a vision complementary of the city’s aims. 

“We are still in discussions with DECD,” Bronin said. “We don’t know if we will be ultimately funded or not. Regardless, that property represents a large, historic and flexible space that could be used for a number of commercial purposes.” 

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