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West Hartford Business Buzz: January 8, 2018

Proposal for Ringgold Estates. Town of West Hartford website

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.

By Ronni Newton

Brrrr …. is all I can say.

By the time you read this we may have finally broken out of the deep freeze, something which I think most will agree is very welcome. My poor, old furnace (“Bessie” is in her late 80s) has been working overtime for nearly two weeks. We haven’t turned down the heat at all because: 1) We don’t want our pipes to freeze, and 2) The temperature in the house hasn’t even reached what the thermostat is set on because the radiators just don’t work efficiently in this kind of weather.

Temperature at 7:15 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

My thermometer said it was -5.1ºF outside when I woke up Sunday morning (others in town shared photos on social media of temperatures even a few degrees colder than that), and 53.1ºF right up against the bedroom window where our digital thermometer sits. The temperature had risen to about 2ºF when I went for a run. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, either because it wasn’t too windy or because I am somehow now accustomed to the frigid weather.

My husband and I did sort of escape the weather by taking a short “staycation” on Friday and Saturday. We stayed overnight at the Delamar West Hartford hotel (it was nice and warm inside, much warmer than our house), dined at Artisan (we didn’t even have to go outside into the 0-degree air and arctic winds to get there), and felt like we really had a getaway even though we drove less than 2 miles. More on that to come in an article this week!

If you have tips about businesses opening or closing, or doing something worth sharing, please provide that information in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Proposal for Ringgold Estates. Town of West Hartford website

  • Two proposed residential development projects are about to begin their journey through the Town Council Special Development District approval process this week. On the agenda, to be set for public hearing at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, is an application for “The Townhomes at Ringgold Estates,” which is being proposed for the former Patrissi Nursery property at 35 Ringgold Street and 34 Crescent Street. The town’s Design Review Advisory Committee began review this summer of the preliminary proposal from Ringgold Crescent Partners LLC (Mark Lovley and Anthony M. Valenti) for a 25-unit townhouse development on the 1.33-acre parcel, and since then the plans have been refined, presented to the Park Road Neighborhood Association, and are ready for the next step of a public hearing. The proposal is for access to the complex from Ringgold Street. Most of the units in the proposed development will be 1,055 square feet with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but three handicapped accessible units will be 1,280 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Each unit will have a garage underneath it, and a total of 40 parking spaces are part of the proposal. To see the detailed plans, click here.

    The owners of 243 Steele Road are hoping to add a seventh building to the complex. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Another residential project that the Town Council will set for public hearing on Tuesday night is actually an addition to an existing complex. Steele Road, LLC is looking to add a seventh building to 243 Steele Road (The Residences at Steele Road). The 30-unit apartment building would be located on the northwest (rear) portion of the property, and will contain six of the 1,638 square foot “high-end two-bedroom/two-bath units” that owners say have been very much in demand. The existing complex includes a total of 16o units as well as a clubhouse, pool, and patio. According to the proposal, the existing units were fully leased prior to the completion of construction. Overall site improvements and landscaping changes, as well as stormwater management design, are all part of the proposal. To see the complete plans, click here.
  • The public is invited to the first anniversary party for INDIA Restaurant in Blue Back Square (54 Memorial Rd.) on Jan. 13. INDIA’s owner, Chef Prasad Chirnomula, has planned the celebration as a Makar Sankranti, to coincide with Sankranti which according to a news release is “one of the most auspicious days of the year for Hindus, observed each year according to the Solar Cycle, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.” In advance of the celebration, children of all ages are invited to drop off colorfully-decorated kites – a traditional part of Sankranti’s observation – for a chance to win gift certificates to the restaurant. On Jan. 13, patrons will be offered complimentary henna during dinner (between 5-9 p.m.) and at 9:30 p.m. the party will begins in earnest with music, dancing, drink specials, and hand-passed Indian street food style hors d’oeuvres. There is no charge to attend the party. For more information, visit INDIA’s website.
  • A feature in New York Moves, a magazine that according to its website “advocates for women’s rights, social fairness and equal opportunity to its readers,” mentioned West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor in a feature profiling high profile female heads of government. According to an article in The Trentonian, a daily newspaper in Trenton, NJ, in addition to recognizing Cantor, the magazine mentioned Hamilton (NJ) Mayor Kelly Yaede, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven, and Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter of Islip, NY.

    Elysa Gordon. Submitted photo

  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Elysa Gordon, who has been appointed vice president and senior advisor to Hartford Foundation for Public Giving President Jay Williams. In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing the Foundation’s new evaluation and research unit, as well as directing public policy activity. “During my first six months as the president of the Hartford Foundation, I have come to rely on Elysa as a trusted advisor whose extensive knowledge of our organization and the community has been invaluable to my efforts to move the Foundation forward,” Williams said in a news release. “As vice president, Elysa will broaden her contributions to our organization and the Greater Hartford Community by leading efforts to use research and evaluation to provide information about critical issues and using it to make better informed decisions.” Gordon holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, an M.S.W. from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
  • A celebration will be held on Wednesday night, Jan. 17 [note that this date has been corrected], from 5:30-7 p.m. at Park & Oak Restaurant (155 Park Rd.) to thank Judy Casperson for her service to the town. The event is open to the public and being sponsored by Mayor Shari Cantor. It is open to the public and the suggested donation is $20, which will benefit Playhouse on Park and includes a complimentary glass of beer/wine and hearty appetizers. Casperson decided not to seek re-election to the Town Council in 2017. See PDF below.
  • More news related to Playhouse on Park: The theater is collecting non-perishable food items for the West Hartford Food Pantry throughout the month of January – one of the toughest months of the year for the social service organization. Rice, pasta, canned soup, canned vegetables and beans, cereal and oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, tuna and canned meat, canned fruit, canned meals, and healthy snacks and drinks are among the most needed items. (Expired, opened, or perishable items cannot be accepted.) Donations can be dropped of at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Rd., when the box office is open: Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and two hours prior to curtain. For more information, call the box office at 860-523-5900 x10, or visit the website www.playhouseonpark.org.
  • Congratulations and best wishes to West Hartford resident Matt Winter on his upcoming retirement as president of Allstate Corporation, a role he has held since 2015. “Matt has helped us achieve both strategic and operational success, and build a stronger organization. We wish him continued success in retirement,” Tom Wilson, chairman and CEO of The Allstate Corporation said in a news release. Winter, who will retire in February, has been at Allstate for eight years and has spent 25 years in the insurance industry. 
  • Panera Bread will begin offering café-based delivery services to homes and offices in the West Hartford and Southington locations, beginning in early spring. Full- and part-time delivery drivers are now being hired, the company announced in a news release. A job fair will be held in West Hartford (2534 Albany Ave.) on Feb. 15, from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. For more information on the hiring events visit the local Panera franchise’s Facebook page or apply online through the website.
  • The weekly real estate transactions that I publish include residential sales – which are much more common than commercial real estate sales. However, last week there was a significant commercial sale when North Main Holdings, LLC (represented by Sentry Commercial) purchased 28 North Main St. from Rosenfield/Hollander Associates (represented by Chozick Realty). The selling price for the 9,392 square foot building on .52 acres was $1,244,482. 

    Sign on Giftology door. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Bad news comes at the end, and this one surprised me and seemed to happen suddenly: Giftology in Blue Back Square has closed. The store was open on Friday, according to one source, but was closed on Saturday. No one answered the phone and when I stopped by on Sunday there was a sign on the door indicating that the store was closed, and when I peeked in the window I saw that some of the merchandise seemed to have already been packed up in to boxes. The store no longer appears in the Blue Back Square directory, but no one at Blue Back could be reached for comment over the weekend. Giftology is a chain, and there is another Connecticut location at the Trumbull Mall and several in Massachusetts.
  • Last week we reported the closing of Burger King at Westfarms, which was confirmed by General Manager Kevin Keenan on Wednesday. He said that General Nutrition will be moving into that space, as part of a reconfiguration to make way for a new restaurant (the name of which cannot yet be shared). Keenan said that it’s “not unusual at this time of year to see store closings as leases typically expire in January.” According to another source, Cohen’s Optical at Westfarms has also closed.
  • ICYMI: There has been some leadership change at FLOW (Future Leaders of West Hartford), with the stepping down of Ryan Keating, who founded the organization as served as its first president. Kristen Gorski, who was formerly vice president, has take over the top spot. More details can be found here.
  • Also ICYMI, plans are being finalized for the inaugural boutique events showcase at the Delamar West Hartford on Jan. 24. Click here for all of the details.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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