Many news stories about the Farmington Avenue Plan and interesting developments in the neighborhood have appeared in local newspapers.

A selected summary of news coverage appears below. The complete story is available at the Hartford Public Library.

Avenue Worth More Than A Face Lift (Commentary by Tom Condon)
The Hartford Courant, July 24, 2005

…. the city garnered $17 million in bond funds for streetscape improvements on five major arterials, including Farmington Avenue. What the city had in mind was a traditional streetscape program, with repaving, new lights and the like. The Farmington Avenue Alliance is thinking much bigger; it wants a major redesign of the whole avenue.

So now it's negotiating over how much and where. City transportation official Kevin Burnham said the city wants to do as much of the plan as the money will allow, and that he thinks the alliance and the city will soon reach an agreement.

I hope so, because there's momentum that shouldn't be wasted. The best vote of confidence is private investment, and that's been happening over the past few years, said alliance board member Rudy Arnold. Several new restaurants, new office buildings and the new Mark Twain Education Center bode well.

If I were Mayor Eddie Perez, I'd bend over backwards to implement the whole plan. The more attractive and vibrant Farmington Avenue is, the better chance the city has of retaining the large companies that reside along it. If Farmington Avenue were all it could be, would MassMutual have left? Might ING have taken the MassMutual campus? (Come to think of it, why didn't they?)

There are things the city could do quickly - there are a few bad litter problems on the avenue, for example - and the mayor should take care of them. With Blue Back Square and Farmington Avenue improvements coming in West Hartford, the corridor could be ..... a great linear neighborhood.

Farmington Ave. renaissance has $160 million and big growth plans
Hartford Business Journal –November 24, 2003

For business and property owners in the Farmington Avenue Business District (FABD), long-range plans for the district are no longer the stuff of paper dreams.

With approximately $160 million invested in major renovation and construction projects in the FABD over the past few years, many of these projects are now complete or nearing completion.

Some projects highlighted were: Mark Twain House Museum Center - $16.5 million for a 3-story building with exhibits, café and meeting rooms; Hartford Public High School - $85.8 million for renovations and new construction; Colonial Theater area - $6.7 million conversion of former theater into restaurant and other investments; Immanuel Church Housing Corp.- $10.2 million for new assisted living facilities and Children’s Theatre - $515,000 to renovate a carriage house for black box theater.

Katherine Kane, executive director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center said, “The outlook is more optimistic than it was when I came here five years ago.”

Eyeing Opportunities: Activism drives West End development
Hartford Business Journal, March 4, 2002

Allie Gamble believes in the West End so much he has three businesses there. The third, a tea and coffee café called Tisane, opened four months ago on Farmington Avenue. He is also president and CEO of the RooBar and the Half Door; all three are located within two-tenths of a mile from each other.

“It’s the cultural diversity that’s out here,” Gamble said. “There are the artists, the gay crowd, the minorities, all the politicians.”

Thomas Altmann, president of Hot Tomatoes, who will operate a Brazilian restaurant at the former Colonial Theater site, agreed the appeal of the West End is its diversity.

“The West End has a real, true personality,” Altmann said. “It is such an eclectic place. It is (a place) of different colors that makes it a beautiful tapestry.”

Tisane and the Colonial Theater projects represent just a fraction of what’s happening in the West End these days. Though diversity is part of what makes this neighborhood attractive to businesses, its residents’ grass-roots activism is the driving force behind its economic development.

A Novel Design: Big Plans Unveiled For Low-Key Visitor Center At Twain House
The Hartford Courant, November 2001

Architect Robert A.M. Stern displayed his latest plans Thursday for a new visitor center at the Mark Twain House – a $14.6 million project designed to enhance the tourist attraction while staying in the background.

“We kept in simple and quiet,” Stern said of the 35,000 square-foot building, which will be partially underground. “It’s not like a big box.”

The brick structure will include a lecture hall, a seminar and reading room for scholars and others, two exhibition galleries, a restaurant, a gift shop and a video room.

“This will change the face of the institution and everything it can do for the city, the state and the country,” said John V. Boyer, executive director of the Twain house.

Farmington Avenue Plan Revealed
The Hartford Courant, January 17, 2002

Imagine an idyllic Farmington Avenue where motorists no longer used angry hand gestures, pedestrians were not endangered, and business owners never worried again about customers growling over the lack of parking.

A $12 million plan shows a kinder, slower and more unified Farmington Avenue which supporters hope will lead to a better life for all three groups.

The plan explores traffic parking, transit and business patterns and was greeted with smiles and congratulations from many of the nearly 125 people who crammed a dance studio at the Hartford Courant Arts Center on Wednesday.

On The Road to Being Functional? Group Presents Plans for Farmington Avenue
The Hartford Courant, July 26, 2001

Bus stops vanished. Trees rose from the concrete. Entire blocks surfaced, bursting with plazas, cafes and roundabouts.

It was just on paper, but the painstaking detail of the plans for a new Farmington Avenue that were aired Wednesday couldn’t help but fill those who viewed them with a sense of destiny.

Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit group commissioned by the Farmington Avenue Joint Committee, introduced the plans during two public meetings at the St. Francis Care Center for Health Enhancement on Woodland Street after studying traffic, parking and transit patterns for six months.

The group presented two options and engaged in an extended discussion with residents and representatives of business and development interests.

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