WEST HARTFORD — The town has received nearly $1 million in grant funding from the state to clean up the blighted parcel that once housed Puritan Furniture on New Britain Avenue.
The property, at 1051 and 1061 New Britain Ave., was home to Puritan Furniture before it closed in 2020 and is now owned by NASRA WH LLC.
The group intends to redevelop the 2.97-acre site into a $34 million 131-unit mixed-income, mixed-used transit-oriented development, according to Kristen Gorski, the town’s economic development coordinator.
The project is still in the proposal phase with developers still needing to acquire land-use approvals from the town
The town was awarded $953,646 as part of a statewide rollout of $17.9 million in funding provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Brownfield Remediation Program. The state said the money will be used to remediate 40 blighted parcels in 13 municipalities across Connecticut.
“Cleaning up blighted properties that have been vacant for decades and putting them into productive use will ultimately generate back many more times the amount of these grants through private investments,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. “If we remediate these properties now, we can turn an eyesore into an asset, revitalize neighborhoods and transform otherwise unusable property into new space for businesses and residents.”
Gorski said the town applied for the grant as a public-private partnership with the property owner. They will likely also seek funding from the newly created CT Communities Challenge Grant program.
“We will pass through the funding to the private partner who is the property owner so they can remediate the property,” Gorski said.
The building is home to an Ashley HomeStore Outlet, which developers intend to keep after the redevelopment as part of their vision to have commercial businesses on the ground floor of the building. Gorski said the developers have expressed interest in having retail and possibly restaurants located on the property.
But before that can happen, Gorski said, the parcel needs some major work.
“The property is quite old,” Gorski said. “There are contaminated materials that are currently on the property. Those materials consist of some basic things like asbestos. There are damaged materials. There’s also some underground storage tanks that were abandoned that need to be removed.”
The town, though, said they are excited about what the building owner and developer have planned. They see it as a boost to the Elmwood section of West Hartford.
“We’re very excited about this at town hall,” Town Manager Matt Hart said. “This project should play a prominent role in the development of this transit corridor and add to Elmwood and the town’s vitality.”
Gorski said the property being a few hundred feet away from a CTfastrak stop brings the possibility of alternative transportation.
“This particular site is really exciting because of its proximity to the CTfastrak station,” Gorski said. “We’re hoping that people who live in those units or even people who may commute to the commercial space, that they might be able to also use that and alternate modes of transportation.”
Gorski said adding 131 mixed-income housing units to West Hartford is also an important part of this plan.
“Vacancy is at an all-time low,” Gorski said. “Those are units that we could really use to cater to the residents we currently have as well as attract some new residents.”
Gorski said these kinds of projects are very important to West Hartford’s interest in transit-oriented development.
“It will overall enhance the already vibrant neighborhood we have in Elmwood and on New Park Avenue,” Gorski said. “When you look at the project as a whole, it’s really exciting to see these mixed use projects in Elmwood that are transit-oriented developments. We’re just really excited for the level of investment that this project will bring to Elmwood.”