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January 10, 2020

Hartford’s DoNo developer commits to building new grocery store

Image | Contributed A breakdown of DoNo properties.

The developer of Hartford’s Downtown North (DoNo) parcels on Friday promised that a grocery store will be part of his plans to revamp the area surrounding Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Randy Salvatore, founder and CEO of Stamford-based RMS Cos., said he plans to break ground this spring on the DoNo development, a roughly $200-million project expected to bring between 800 to 1,000 new apartments, 30,000 square feet of retail space and a supermarket to the Capital City’s North End.

“We expect to have a grocery store as part of the development, which is much needed in the area, which would be an amenity for residents as well as the downtown and the areas to the north,” Salvatore said Friday morning at CBRE's annual 2020 Greater Hartford real estate outlook breakfast-forum at the Hartford Marriott Downtown.

The addition of a supermarket has been a hot-button topic surrounding the proposed DoNo project in recent years. Local advocates have said the area is a food desert and that a large grocery store is needed to support residents who live there.

Salvatore, which the city has selected as its preferred developer for the DoNo parcels, began to move forward with the mixed-use development last summer after a Superior Court judge discharged the liens on the parcels around Dunkin’ Donuts Park. RMS has recently been at the site conducting inspections and other due-diligence work, Mayor Luke Bronin said earlier this week.

The court decision marked a major win for the city, which prevailed in a long-running legal battle with Centerplan Construction Co., who was fired from building the city’s Dunkin’ Donuts ballpark due to construction delays and cost overruns.

Photo | CBRE
RMS CEO Randy Salvatore addressing attendees Friday at CBRE's annual 2020 Greater Hartford real estate outlook event at the Hartford Marriott Downtown.

On Friday, Salvatore, also the owner and operator of Hartford's historic Goodwin Hotel, offered a glimpse of what the DoNo development may look like.

Phase I of the project, he said, would include a 240-unit apartment building accompanied by ground-level retail space along Main Street. A parking garage in “Parcel C” of the development will also be included.

“It will be an extremely heavily amenitized building, Class A type of structure,” Salvatore said, adding that construction on the first phase will last about 18 months. “We are committed to hiring Hartford residents for construction.”

As the first phase is being completed, construction would begin on the second phase, including another apartment building with approximately 300 units, additional retail space and the grocery store.

“We are actively starting to search out grocery anchor tenants right now,” Salvatore told a crowd of some 375 people Friday. 

The final two phases of development will include buildings with about 175 and 100 apartments north of the ballpark at the vacant data center. That phase of construction will also include a second parking facility with 1,200 parking spaces.

“Fast-forward six years from now, we are optimistic that this development will be completed bringing 1,500 to 2,000 residents to this area and as well as new restaurants, new entertainment options, community retail and hopefully a grocery store,” he said.

Salvatore and the city are expected to ink a development agreement in the coming weeks before RMS breaks ground this spring, city officials say.

“I wouldn’t certainly be making this financial commitment if I didn’t believe in it,” Salvatore said. “This is a real project, this is not just semantics.”

The grocery store project could also benefit from federal New Markets Tax Credits, the next round of which will be announced this summer.

While downtown does not have a large-scale grocer, the proposed DoNo supermarket would have competition downtown.

In November, a new food market launched in a 6,650-square-foot space on the ground level of downtown’s Stark Building.

The so-called Hartford Food Market joined The Greenway Market and New York Market & Deli, both on Asylum Street, purveying fresh and packaged goods to downtown residents and workers.

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January 10, 2020

What is the point of opening more grocery store if they are closing. let's make smarter and invest the money in what is needed Hartford has enough grocery store to open another one. We need more people living in Hartford more work and then we open more grocery store

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