Director of Community Services Rob Rowlson has a hand in nearly all of the construction and economic development happening in West Hartford. And he believes that the economy is really turning around.
Rowlson spoke to a packed room at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Economic Development Update and Luncheon” Tuesday at the .
“This year, what I’m really excited about, what’s on the books, is ... Sears, Chatfield, Quaker Green, Kane Street, Rockville Bank, Bartaco, Walgreens, Edens … All of these, combined with the hotel, represent $70-100 million in new construction, jobs, tax dollars. That’s why I’m so excited,” Rowlson said.
He walked the audience through a slide show that traveled throughout town, providing updates for each neighborhood.
The tour started with in Corbin’s Corner, which will be receiving a major facelift, Rowlson said. Although he was not able to obtain renderings of the new façade, he said the outdated building would be made to look like separate storefronts. Nearby, is looking to double in size to accommodate residents with dementia.
New Britain Ave. is struggling through delays in the state-run construction project which Rowlson said he is “disgusted with,” but at the same time has replaced the formerly dilapidated building at the corner of New Britain Ave. and South Main St. and Condominiums is preparing to add another phase to its project.
The New Park Ave. corridor is also in the throes of construction from the busway and Flatbush Ave. bridge. Rowlson praised the efforts of the Home Design District for putting up with the project while continuing to conveniently provide everything needed for home decorating and construction.
“Small businesses are what makes the world go round,” Rowlson said in reference to Park Rd. He saluted entrepreneur Beth Bolton, owner of , for celebrating the store’s third anniversary. , , , and the soon-to-open patio at were all highlighted as positive additions to the area.
Rowlson is very excited about the possibility of bringing a Center. “We need this site because it’s quite possibly the most valuable site in Hartford County today,” he said, referring to the town-owned Raymond Rd. parcel across from the police station.
He believes a hotel will bring $15 million per year into the local economy, as well as additional jobs. The RFP/RFQ will be published in mid-April. “It will take some zoning changes, but if you believe it’s the right thing, you need to stand up for it,” Rowlson told the audience.
Other recent West Hartford Center successes include new occupants , , , , , , as well as which recently relocated to LaSalle Rd.
Bartaco, with the same ownership as , will be opening on Farmington Ave. where Mimi Maternity and LaPerla were formerly located, and Generation Y will open on LaSalle. The LaSalle Rd. Post Office site will soon be renovated to make way for which will take over two-thirds of the building.
Some of the most exciting changes will be coming to Bishop’s Corner.
Mooyah is preparing to open this spring, and the is undergoing renovation.
“I think Wal-Mart is going to be a fabulous addition to our community because it will let people comparison shop at a whole new level,” Rowlson said, referring to the , which is owned by Wal-Mart, will take over the long-vacant Adams Supermarket space later this year.
As for the long-awaited demolition of the old Adams parking garage – it’s scheduled for April 15.
To accommodate all of the traffic, "there will also be 25 miles of road construction projects ongoing this summer," Rowlson said.