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Sparking New Investment, Transit Oriented Development Plans

Interest by developers in capitalizing on development opportunities along the CTfastrak route has stimulated millions of dollars in private investment around future stations.

In downtown Hartford, major residential and mixed-use developments will help bring new residents downtown. Examples include an $80 million 286-unit residential high-rise at 777 Main Street, a $50 million 205-unit residential/retail project on Pearl Street and the $22 million 200-unit mixed-use renovation of the former Sonesta Hotel on Constitution Plaza.

Exciting new development and revitalization is also occurring in nearby New Britain. For example, a New York City developer known for its commercial and residential projects in Manhattan purchased the only high-rise in downtown New Britain in 2011 for $2.8 million, and recently debuted the renovated property to brokers and potential tenants. According to Gerry Amodio, executive director of the New Britain Downtown District, the developer is considering converting the property to mixed-use residential condos with commercial on the ground level. If that occurred, Amodio said it would be the first significant mixed-use development in New Britain.

Amodio indicated other developers have been buying and renovating smaller properties in New Britain, and several business owners near the CTfastrak line have been revitalizing their properties to attract future riders and potential investors.

from a real estate perspective

“For property owners it will quite frankly increase their property values and make them much more attractive to other people,” said Amodio.

Also in the works is a possible $35 million mixed-use development near the future Cedar Street station in the Town of Newington on a former industrial welding property.

This influx of investment in anticipation of the CTfastrak system mirrors what has occurred in cities throughout the U.S. that have implemented new high capacity transit lines – and numerous studies have shown a connection between proximity to transit stations and increased property values and economic development.

Recognizing the importance of maximizing the community’s investment in the CTfastrak system and guiding new ‘Transit Oriented Development’ (TOD) that encourages ridership and walkable connections between stations and nearby housing, employment and activity centers, cities along the CTfastrak route have also begun to undertake efforts to implement TOD plans and guidelines around future CTfastrak stations.

As part of its TOD pilot program, the City of Hartford has created a Downtown Convergence TOD Area encompassing a half-mile radius around Union Station in downtown Hartford, which will include a TOD “overlay zone” to favor mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development. The city is creating station area plans, which include evaluating the area around the station for potential development scenarios, exploring opportunities for public-private partnerships to facilitate development, and designing potential streetscape improvements to enhance walkable connections between the train station and downtown businesses and attractions. These efforts will enhance the redevelopment that has already occurred in recent years in downtown, such as the Adriaen’s Landing site, and will help complete the city’s vision for a vibrant, pedestrianā€focused downtown where people want to live, work and play.

sparking investment

In New Britain, a new Streetscape Master Plan, expected to get underway later this year, will help transform the areas around CTfastrak stations to make them more pedestrian and bike-friendly – and better connect riders with the city’s downtown.

Both projects were made possible through state TOD grants administered by CTDOT, and are aimed at fostering economic development by supporting local projects that connect state residents to job opportunities, housing, cultural centers, educational facilities and more.

“The more convenient public transportation is, the more people will take advantage of it. Transit-oriented development keeps everyone moving toward that goal,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “Livable, walkable and ‘bike-able’ community development around and near transit stops and stations is what we are trying to achieve. Easy access means increasing ridership.”