Darrel Ramsey-Musolf, Chair - Wayne Feiden, Member
The purpose of this project is to determine the impact of a redevelopment master plan on the existing population surrounding the project area. In the Spring of 2014, the City of Hartford, Connecticut and Utile prepared a redevelopment Master Plan for a portion of their downtown titled "Downtown North / Downtown West: A Plan for the City of Hartford". The Downtown North (DoNo) section of the plan area consists of vacant lots, parking lots, and underutilized properties, many city-owned, which appear prime for redevelopment. My research questions and analysis focus on the housing portion of this Master Plan in the DoNo neighborhood, and examine the social justice impacts of the potential redevelopment.
Abutting this area is the wealthy and more expensive Downtown and in contrast with the low-income, minority, and marginalized neighborhoods of Clay Arsenal, Upper Albany, and Asylum Hill. My main research questions are as follows. Will the Master Plan provide enough housing to meet the future needs of market rate and affordable housing in the project area? Will the potential influx of new residents spill over into the adjacent Clay Arsenal, Asylum Hill, and Upper Albany neighborhoods and cause the displacement of residents?
Throughout the year long process of conducting this research project, the City contracted the New Britain Rock Cats to move to the DoNo and agreed to construct a $56 million minor league baseball stadium for them. A developer submitted a proposal in response to the City's Request for Proposals (RFP) for the stadium and included a $350 million mixed-use neighborhood development around the stadium. The evolution of this project has given me the opportunity to also compare the developer's proposal, which is in the final negotiations with the City Council, to the original redevelopment Master Plan.
The DoNo redevelopment Master Plan and subsequent proposal struggle to balance needed economic development to the neighborhood, the City, and existing residents. This critical piece (DoNo) of the City has formed a gap between Downtown and the surrounding North End neighborhoods. The City is at an exciting time in its history with the opportunity to heal the scars of the early generations of urban renewal that left much of DoNo vacant and underutilized, and shifted resources and amenities away from the North End and into Downtown.