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Fri December 7, 2012
A Rebirth For Hartford's "Plaza Mayor"?
A city corner that's been called the gateway to Hartford's Latino community is now a series of empty lots -- and efforts to develop them failed a few years back. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, city officials say they're ready to try again.
In 2005, plans were first floated to spend $64 million dollars to build two luxury condo towers, some retail, and a massive main square -- or Plaza Mayor, as it came to be known. The plan later got smaller in size -- with shorter towers, fewer condos, and half the price tag. But it eventually failed when the economy tanked. Now, a version of it may be back.
"Park Street is the hub of the Latino community in New England." That's Julio Mendoza, the head of the Spanish American Merchants' Association. He's been working to develop the intersection at Park and Main Streets for a long time. "Those corners there represent what the Latino community is all about. And, right now, it's empty."
Wayne Benjamin is the city's economic development director. He says Mayor Pedro Segarra wants to take these parcels, along with a few others, and put them out to bid. All together, they total about 11 acres. "What the mayor is looking to do is to put a number of properties out for RFP to seek new proposals, for people to come in as investors/developers to develop that site." The original development group was made up of Latino city businessmen.
Mendoza says he hopes they come back. "It must have a plaza. I think that's important, for that area there. Because, you know, we need to have some restaurants in there that people can eat out. And it will be a place for people to congregate." The city says bids should go out in the next couple of weeks.