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Letter: Nothing Appropriate About 1700 Asylum Avenue Development Proposal

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Editor’s note: The following was sent to the mayor and members of the Town Council, and provided to We-Ha.com for publication by the author.

Dear Mayor Cantor and Members of Council:

Unfortunately I will be out of town on April 15th so I wanted to document my thoughts which I hope can influence your own thought processes and decision-making.

The UConn property presents West Hartford with a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a large scale and thoughtful development that enhances our town and provides very necessary housing. There has been incredible momentum in the development of multi-family rental properties focused on luxury, walkability, sought-after amenities, and transportation opportunities.  What we are lacking on a larger scale is new developments that provide additional home ownership opportunities, especially for young families entering the housing market and for senior citizens looking to downsize while remaining in town.

In my opinion there is NOTHING appropriate about the current developer’s proposal for ANY portion of this property. There should be ZERO non-residential (commercial or retail) components to this development, and NO buildings higher than two to maximum three stories. My rationale:

  1. The development is totally inappropriate in scale and character to surrounding beautiful residential neighborhoods.
  2. Traffic arteries are currently CHOKED with traffic. We drive these everyday, so any traffic expert speaking on impact of development on traffic impacts need to be heard with the current traffic situation in mind. Any significant added traffic would be problematic for that area. Asylum, Albany, Trout Brook and Main Street are very congested thoroughfares. Creating a destination development will have significant negative impact on streets that were designed for local and residential traffic.
  3. The once-in-a-generation opportunity here is for OWNER OCCUPIED housing. As an example, an ideal development would be townhome style communities.  One traditional townhome community could be designed for young professionals and young families while one could be designated for 55+ residents.  These are the markets we need to serve with new/expanded ownership opportunities in town.

Let’s remember that we are West Hartford, a national envy for quality of life, education, and diversity. We need to dictate what type of development we want as there is no type of housing in our community that will not be in demand. The developers will rightly try to maximize density of a property.  Our decision needs to be based on what is right for West Hartford for the long-term, not a rush to develop that may result in a short-sighted decision that isn’t the best fit for the community. There is no hardship here that should warrant a radical change in zoning. I am sure if we don’t allow this type of development that an acceptable project will come to fruition. That property is a rare and significant opportunity for a developer and the town in any form.

Please keep in mind the opportunities this town has for additional large-scale infill development and redevelopment of properties on existing commercial corridors. We have Farmington Avenue, Park Road, Albany Avenue, North and South Main Street, New Britain Avenue, New Park Avenue, and more. We are blessed with incredible opportunities to continue to expand and enhance our town and grow our population, tax base, retail and business communities, while continuing to improve our infrastructure.  The current proposal does nothing positive for West Hartford. It is the wrong development for that property and neighborhood. Thank you.


Robert Garrey
West Hartford

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  • Very well said Robert. I couldn’t agree more. We have a housing shortage here in CT, Hartford County and specifically in our hometown of West Hartford. We need new construction with opportunities for people to buy homes not rent. Nearly every new construction project in this town is for rental property. We deperately NEED new owner occupied housing options in town. I’m ok with some retail component as long as residents and future residents have more options to own a home. I hope they listen to you!

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