The Fast Track To Economic Development: New Britain Hopes To Bring In Restaurants, Retail, And People
Just a few short years after the opening of the CTfastrak, municipalities are beginning to utilize those bus hubs to renew their cities’ downtowns. A purse of public and private funds are going to build Columbus Commons, a combination apartment/retail space that aims to be the first phase of development for the city of New Britain.
The building is centered on what was the former New Britain Police Department building at 125 Columbus Boulevard that was razed in 2015. The location is centralized in the New Britain Downtown District which connects the city’s residents to Hartford, Bristol, Waterbury, and both the Amtrak and Metro-North Rails via the CTfastrak.
According to a press release from the City, it is the City’s first major Transit Oriented Development project. They expect the project to cost a total of $58 million dollars, with the state loaning the project $6 million dollars and $1.6 million coming from the Connecticut Housing Finance Agency. Bank of America is generating $16 million in equity for the project.
Xenolith Partners and Dakota Partners were chosen as the developers. In a joint statement they said they “are pleased to be a part of the downtown New Britain renaissance by expanding rental opportunities and cultivating commerce in a sustainable, transit-oriented development.”
Rising tide of CTFastrak back to top
New Britain’s Mayor Erin Stewart sees the project as a way for the rising tide of CTfastrak to lift all boats.
With 160 mixed-income residential units, she sees a slew of new restaurants and stores emerging in Columbus Commons and the greater downtown area to serve this new crop of residents, creating a domino effect of economic development. And there’s some evidence she might be right.
The millennial generation is reviving the idea of walkable cities in urban planning, and there’s no sign that this will change for the generation that follows them. Recently, the National Association of Realtors found in their 2017 Community Preference Survey that close to two-thirds of that age group prefer to live in locations with nearby restaurants and stores.
With Columbus Commons, people of any age will have access to a transit hub, restaurants, and retail all within a short distance of their homes.
The groundbreaking happened in 2017, and construction is set to start sometime in 2018 according to the developers website with the project happening in two phases.
Stewart said that the “project is the start of an exciting new era for downtown New Britain."