You’ve heard of the Butt Ugly Building and Capitol West, but downtown is blemished by at least a half dozen other eyesores which have great potential. Eyewitness News can now report one of those vacant buildings is getting a new lease on life.
50 Elm Street is over a 100 years old and has been in gradual decline in recent years. A few years back it looked like it simply needed a few new shutters and some paint, but lately it is been an awful ambassador for Hartford to passersby. Situated on the edge of the busy Pulaski Circle with great views of the skyline and Bushnell Park, it sadly featured boarded up windows and broken glass.
The new owners declined our request for an interview, but according to the City of Hartford’s Chief Operating Officer David Panagore, Aneka and Judy Young of Avon have big plans for 50 Elm and the resources to see the project through. Panagore told me the building will be the new headquarters for the AC Young Company, which operates several McDonald’s in the city and the suburbs. Panagore also said there are plans for a cafe at 50 Elm and a residential component. According to a spokesperson for McDonald’s, it will not be home to one of their fast food restaurants.
The hope is this major investment in this area, a stone’s throw from City Hall and the Capitol, will spark renewed development in this part of Downtown, known as SoDo. Neighbors have long complained about the neglected Elm Street buildings and the detriment they were to the neighborhood. The historic building next to 50 Elm is also in dire need of a makeover, and the owner, local artist Dennis Peabody, told me a while back he was waiting for 50 Elm to sell before he fixes up his building, perhaps making it into a gallery. We can expect to hear something about his property soon.
There are other downtown buildings ripe for the picking. 111 Pearl Street sits at a major intersection. There have been suggestions that instead of sinking $5,000,000 into tearing down Capitol West for a vacant lot, that amount of money could do wonders in helping transform 111 Pearl into lofts and retail.