I was excited about an interview for last week’s Face the State with David Panagore, the Chief Operating Officer for the City of Hartford. It’s no secret there has been some new signs of life in downtown Hartford lately, and wanted to hear from Panagore about what’s still to come.
We recorded our chat last Thursday, and then on Friday morning we made the decision to hold that interview and the other two we recorded because of Hurricane Irene and her expected onslaught on our state just as Face the State would have aired. We could have held the program until this coming Labor Day weekend, but U.S. Open tennis is pre-empting us.
The Face the State that was recorded last week can be seen on wfsb.com right now. In the interview, Panagore talks about why the business outlook in Downtown is on the upswing, and what the city is doing to attract new business. This C.O.O. is a bright guy, who picks up plenty of great ideas during his extensive travel.
You can watch the interview right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?clipId=6211865&topVideoCatNo=213439&autoStart=true
Dennis, as a Dweller in Downtown Hartford, I walk about on a regualr basis to gauge for myself where the city has or can progress or where it seems to miss the mark. I have an office with a fine view of Main Street in Middletown. I can’t help but ask what has Middletown done to make it’s Main Street feel so vibrant and maintain that feel into the evening while Main Street in Hartford leaves me flat? Hartford has an amazing museum, great theater, an impressive science center, the hands down best clothing store in Connecticut at SMT-Tuesday’s, The Market has opened and there is Spirtus for fine wine. the River and the Park offer fine venues for entertainment. There are great restaurants and young people flocked to the bars and entertainment near Union Place. What are we missing?
Many people will say that the lack of good tucked-in affordable parking is one factor. I also believethat there are also what I think of as “The Voids”. This includes the wall created by the Plaza in front of Bushnell Tower, the parking lot surrounded by Pratt, Main and Trumbull Streets, the unsightly barracaded ugly Federal Courthouse that is dark beginning in the early evening across from the darkened pillars of the massive imposing Baptist church and the empty (although less so) offices in the Linden commercial space.
I’m grateful for Masala and Peppercorns but the Methadone Clinic at the next intersection really needs to move. This is Hartford’s “Main Street”.
Moving towards the river, I don’t understand the thinking on Front Street. I still find Constitution Plaza lovely. It now ends in Front Street. Front Street strikes me as a bland set of identical buildings pushed too closely together by the garage that could have been tucked behind the old Hartford Times. It makes an awkward topographic transition from the more majestic Plaza. Front Street could have been wider making a nice park-like and inviting outdoor space where the street is. It seemed like a great area to expand the arts, particularly if the the Hartford Times building could be razed while preserving the facade. Did any of the planners check out Blueback Square in West Hartford? It will be good to have better roadway access to the city.
It would be great to have folks want to come in early or linger, perhaps to shop and spend their hard earned cash in a comfortable atmosphere with easy inexpensive parking. How are we going to do that?