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March 27, 2023

Mayor Bronin promises no letup on economic development initiatives during final months in office; pitches flat tax rate in FY 2024 budget

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin speaking at a press conference.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin delivered his eighth and final “State of the City” address to the City Council Monday night, touting a laundry list of challenges met, progress made and efforts underway.

“Tonight, I want to start where I usually end: the state of our city is strong,” Bronin said in an address delivered with his $619.1 million budget proposal. “Its strength doesn’t come from the budget I’m going to talk about, or from this building. It doesn’t come from me as mayor or from any other elected leaders. Hartford is strong because the people of Hartford are strong.”

Bronin’s 2024 budget proposal maintains the city’s 68.95 mill rate, which was reduced last year from 74.29 mills. It represents a 3.3% increase in spending. 

In his speech, Bronin outlined a laundry list of social service improvements, tax relief and civic programs, riverfront trails and arts programs launched under his watch, including:

  • The HartLift Program, which offers matching grants to help outfit new ground-floor retail spaces, is helping to fill more than 60 vacant storefronts with new businesses, Bronin said. Most of the businesses are owned by women or people of color.
  • Several complementary projects along Albany Avenue, including a mixed-income housing development of more than 300 units at the former Westbrook Village public housing complex and a mixed-use development near Quirk Middle School.
  • The redevelopment of the former Fuller Brush factory site, where Shelbourne Global Solutions aims to add 153 market-rate apartments.
  • Development of hundreds of apartments in the Whitney Manufacturing building and construction of new buildings on surface parking lots on Bartholomew Avenue. Developer Carlos Mouta is working to launch a $91.6 million redevelopment of the vacant Whitney building into 235 apartments and 45,000 square feet of commercial space.
  • Conversion of a former trade school on Washington Street into housing.
  • Development of a new neighborhood on vacant parking lots south of Bushnell Park.
  • Redevelopment of a former municipal building at 525 Main St. and closed fire station on Pearl Street into a mix of housing and retail.

Bronin pledged to keep moving ahead with planning for projects that will launch in coming years, including a  “Hart Line” linear park on an abandoned freight rail line from Union Station to Bloomfield Center, budding plans for a 33-acre brownfield redevelopment off Flatbush Avenue and vast acreage in the city’s South Meadows area and more.

“In the months ahead, we will push that work forward as fast and as far as we can,” Bronin said. “But much of it will fall to the next mayor, the next council, the next team. We’re planting the seeds. It will be up to others to help them grow. But with continued care and cultivation, those seeds will take root, grow and blossom.” 

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