NORTHEAST SNAPSHOT, AUGUST 2006
Hartford, Connecticut Multifamily Market
Currently, the downtown Hartford, Connecticut, multifamily market is undergoing an extensive revitalization. Insurance executives created a proposal in 1997 to create a downtown convention center, hotel, residential and entertainment district along the Connecticut River, and the state legislature supported this renaissance, unlike many of the other proposals that came online during the real estate recession of the 1990s. Former governor Roland and the state legislature committed $1 billion to this initiative, and today, the 450,000-square-foot Connecticut Convention Center is open, along with the adjacent 409-room Marriott Hotel. A new science center also has broken ground, with completion scheduled for 2008.
After construction on this redevelopment initiative was underway, the attitude toward development in downtown Hartford changed. More than 1,300 new housing units either have been completed, are under contract or are in the planning stages. These new downtown units are drawing residents from the suburbs, transforming the 9-5 office environment into a 24-hour city. As projects come to fruition, residential services such as supermarkets automatically follow.
Multifamily development is not only active in Hartford’s downtown. Several new projects, including new condominiums developing in the West End; completion of the Mark Twain Museum expansion; streetscape renovation along the eastern half of Park Street, and conversion of long vacant mill buildings to office, restaurants and home design space along the western half; and creation of the Learning Corridor between Washington and Broad streets, are simply some of the factors that are leading to optimism in the residential sector across the city.
Rental rates typically average from $650 to $700 per month for one-bedroom units, and from $750 to $800 per month for two-bedroom units in 1970s and older housing stock. However, the range varies depending on location and property, and new downtown construction can range from $950 per month for a studio to $4,000 per month for a top-floor two-bedroom unit, as they run in the new Trumbel on the Park development. Occupancy rates throughout the market average between 95 percent and 97 percent.
The bulk of development is taking place in the CBD and on its fringe. Since, historically, there has been very little upscale residential property in the CBD, developers are seeking to tap this unfilled demand, building on the momentum already created by the developments in place.
Some of the most significant developments concurrent with the downtown revitalization include the renovation of the former G. Fox department store on Main Street, which is now the Capital Community College. Also on Main Street, the former Sage Allen department store is being converted to student apartments. 55 on the Park was the first high-end multifamily project to be complete, which showed the other developers that this type of product would thrive in downtown Hartford. Another retail property being revitalized is the former civic center mall, which was razed and developed into a 36-story, 262-unit high-rise apartment building with street level retail called Hartford 21; that project is almost complete. Trumbull Centre’s first phase, a 100-unit apartment complex and 600-car parking garage, was recently completed. Phase II involves the conversion of an adjacent office building into condominiums. Finally, Front Street, a project encompassing 100,000 square feet of retail and including 200 residential condominiums, is underway in its planning phase concurrent with the convention center district revitalization.
In the future, as the trend of moving back downtown accelerates, the neighborhoods surrounding the CBD, such as Asylum Hill, will see increased demand.
— Rick Chozick is vice president of Chozick Realty in Hartford, Connecticut.
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