The development of downtown Hartford is always of interest to me because I work with clients that contemplate living in the city versus the â€˜burbs. Today, the Courant provided some insight on the build-out of the grocery store in the Hartford 21 building on Trumbull Street. Soon, I will finally have a better answer to, â€œWhere is the nearest grocery store?â€ when asked by a customer. At this point I tell them 3 options, Wethersfield, the western edge of Hartford, or West Hartford. All require them to get in a car and drive. There is no real walkable option if they choose to buy or rent in downtown Hartford. This, coupled with the fact that there is a dearth of other retail shopping downtown, typically leads them to focus their search in the suburbs. As a resident of Hartford, I find this frustrating.
As the article points out, what we really have going on here is the chicken-and-egg dilemma. Retailers donâ€™t want to invest in a space where there is not a substantial residential base to support their stores. And residents donâ€™t want to invest in housing in an area where there is a lack of even the most basic necessities. In this case, no grocery store and *gasp* a Starbucks with limited weekend hours. Eeek!
So, kudos to developer Lawrence R. Gottesdiener for sinking $2 million of his dough into the store build-out when the agreement with Bliss Market didn’t work out. I, and Iâ€™m sure all of the residents in downtown Hartford, will anxiously await the announcement of who will operate the store.
On a side note, I found one quote striking and it caused me to wonder, is downtown Hartford being rebuilt to attract only, as Gottesdiener was quoted as saying â€œâ€¦the affluentâ€¦the sexy people, the wealthy people.â€
Doesnâ€™t this severely limit the size of the pie of who can afford to buy or rent in downtown Hartford and consequently support a retail base? Wouldnâ€™t stores be more inclined to open in an area where there is a diversity of housing/rental prices, not just high end, because it would mean the potential for a wider range of customers? It seems that the chicken-and-egg dilemma is exacerbated when the target market is so focused.
Just some food for thoughtâ€¦