Category Archives: West Hartford Center

Blue Back Square’s official opening on Saturday

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the official opening of West Hartford Center’s newest addition, Blue Back Square, on November 3 at 10 a.m.  The event will be held on Webster Walk, near the statue of Noah Webster and the West Hartford public library on South Main Street. 
   
Speakers will be West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka as well as members of the Blue Back Square development team, including Richard Heapes, partner, Blue Back Square/Street-Works and Rick Langhorne, president, Ronus Propertie s.  The West Hartford Hall High School freshman symphonic band will help celebrate the occasion.

The new town square is a first for Connecticut as a unique, mixed-use development and one of a handful in the U. S.  A mixed-use development is a symbiotic balance of residential, retail, office and civic space, designed for all aspects of life.  Blue Back Square not only brings new shops and restaurants to The Center, but Hartford Hospital Wellness Center, New York Sports Clubs as well as luxury condominiums and rental apartment lofts.

Retail anchors at Blue Back Square include Crate and Barrel, The Cheesecake Factory, REI, Barnes & Noble, and Criterion Cinemas.

In 2008, condominiums and apartments will welcome new residents, bringing 24-hour life to The Center in a new way.

Blue Back Square hails its name from Noah Webster’s blue grammar books, which were called “blue back spellers.”  Noah Webster, writer of the American dict ionary, was raised in what is now West Hartford. 

Blue Back Square is a 600,000-square-foot, mixed-use development located in the heart of West Hartford Center between South Main Street, Memorial Road and Raymond Road.  It is an extension of West Hartford Center, a popular pedestrian -friendly shopping and dining district that presently consists of 140 upscale national, regional and local shops, restaurants and a Whole Foods Market.

Blue Back Square includes approximately 220,000 square feet of additional retail; 95,000 square feet of professional office space; 130,000 square feet of medical office space including New York Sports Clubs; and luxury condominiums and rental apartment lofts.  Ronus Properties of Atlanta, Ga., Street-Works of White Plains, N. Y., and JDA Development of West Hartford, Conn. are developing the project.  This partnership combines the national, mixed-use development experience and expertise of Street-Works with the regional sensibility and sensitivity of JDA and the financial strength of Ronus, a full-service, real estate management and development firm.  

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Filed under Blue Back Square, West Hartford Center

Kingswood Market closing doors

After 70 years in business on Farmington Avenue, the Kingswood Market is closing down, according to a story in today’s Hartford Courant. The owner can’t afford the rent hike sought by his landlord.

While the market is only vaguely familiar to me — I’ve run in a few times over the years — this strikes me as yet another indication that West Hartford’s economic success could wind up turning the town into another oasis of upscale chain stores and high-priced eateries, devoid of any particular local flavor. It’s a problem most communities would be only too happy to face, but it’s nonetheless troubling.

What, after all, make West Hartford different than other well-off little cities? We’re sort of like a college town, with better housing and no tailgating. We have the shops, the restaurants, even the bookstores (a rarity in America today). But if someone a decade from now looks around arrives from another state and looks around, will they see anything at all that couldn’t be in Ithaca, Madison, Northampton, Charlottesville or Iowa City? I’m not sure.

As rents rise, it becomes ever harder for strictly local businesses to make a go of it. The overhead gets so high that it becomes risky to sign a lease. The long-term prospects for our familiar bookstores, hardware store, sports shops and more are increasingly shaky despite a stunning prosperity everywhere you look.

So I’m sad to see the market shut down. It hurts its neighborhood, of course, but it’s also perhaps the canary in the coal mine.

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Filed under Kingswood Market, West Hartford Center, West Hartford economy

Blue Back Square

It’s open.

Are you impressed? Is it better than you expected? A monstrosity? A wonder? What?

I took a little walk and found it reasonably human in its scale. That surprised me. I also learned that there’s almost nothing at Crate and Barrel that I can afford.

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Filed under Blue Back Square, Crate and Barrel, West Hartford Center

Cowabunga!

As if an influx of nasty rats wasn’t enough, our town’s also been invaded by giant, multi-colored plastic cows. I can’t explain what’s going on anymore.

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Filed under cow parade, cows, News, West Hartford, West Hartford Center

Blue Back rents are out of sight

According to the Courant, competition among potential tenants “is pushing office leasing rates up to nearly $40 a square foot, the highest seen in the region.”

It’s ultra hot real estate, which is great for our town.

Other developers can’t help noticing the riches, of course, which may mean more prime office space gets built in town before long.

But it also means that commercial office space is going to be worth more here than it has been — and that will eventually help cushion homeowners from future property tax hikes.

In short, it’s thrilling news to see that the project is paying off.

Naysayers, your turn now….

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Filed under Blue Back Square, News, town economy, West Hartford, West Hartford Center

Celebrate! West Hartford this weekend

They’re getting set up for the hordes in the Center, with tents and rides ready to roll. It’s always a great time and this year will be no exception, though parking will be tighter. Plan on walking if you can. For all the information about the event, check out its website.

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Filed under Celebrate! West Hartford, Entertainment, West Hartford, West Hartford Center

Blue Back Square update in Courant

Today’s story lets us know that one of the two parking garages is open – though not to the public yet – but the Healthtrax fitness club and the Hartford Hospital building are a little behind schedule (which explains why I’ve seen ads for the Healthtrax club before it’s open). The Nov. 1 opening for much of it remains on track, however.

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Filed under Blue Back Square, Hartford Hospital, HealthTrax, News, West Hartford Center