Excitement was in the air for a groundbreaking ceremony on Wolcott Street last month. We were celebrating the start of Cityscape VI, which will build nine new homes on vacant lots and rehabilitate three abandoned buildings. According to SINA Executive Director Melvyn Colon, “the financing comes from a bonding package sponsored by Senator John Fonfara. It will be administered through the State of Connecticut Department of Housing, which has granted SINA $2.5 million. We are deeply grateful to the Senator, the Governor and the State for their support.”
Representatives from SINA’s institutional partners were on hand, including Hartford Hospital President Bimal Patel, Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, and Jane Baird of Connecticut's Children's Medical Center, who is SINA’s board chairman. She welcomed about 50 attendees and explained that “Cityscape VI will provide homeownership opportunities for families earning 100% or less of the median area income, with an average house price of about $217,000.” Baird recognized and thanked SINA staff “who have worked so hard to make this project possible.”
Patel said “it’s remarkable that our three institutions have banded together in such a strong partnership to improve the quality of life in this community. That includes the health, safety and economic vitality of neighborhood residents and students, along with the well-being of our employees, patients and visitors. It’s clear that our efforts through SINA are aligned with neighborhood safety.”
“Public-private partnerships are vital for moving a community forward, and SINA has attracted investment to redevelop more than 60 homes. This provides stability for our neighborhood, and greatly increases safety and quality of life for our students, faculty, and staff,” said Berger-Sweeney. She added “we are proud to work with the City of Hartford in reaching our mutually shared goals,” before introducing Hartford’s mayor, Luke Bronin. He emphasized SINA’s key role in adding housing to vacant lots and rehabbing abandoned buildings. This improves public safety and contributes to the city’s tax rolls.
Cityscape VI will create energy-efficient homes on Wolcott Street, Bond Street, Catherine Street, Jefferson Street, Madison Street and Brownell Street. Six of the homes will be in the Frog Hollow National Historic District. All will be consistent in design and scale with the neighborhood, preserving Hartford’s architectural heritage. Delene Falcon, who lives in a home built by SINA on Wolcott Street, spoke movingly about SINA’s positive impact on the neighborhood.
Nick Lundgren of the CT Department of Housing talked about the importance of affordable housing and the preservation of our architectural heritage. He said we’re “pleased to provide funding for SINA, a proven partnership with a track record of success.” Greg Maher of the Leviticus Fund, a key investor in the project, said “our mission at Leviticus is to make socially responsible investments in housing. We are delighted to partner with SINA in a project that will have tremendous impact.”
To achieve this milestone, SINA assembled a coalition to advocate for the restoration of homeownership funds in the state budget. Senator Fonfara acknowledged the gratitude of the attendees for his leadership of that effort, saying “I’m glad to be able to assist SINA in its activities to improve the quality of life in this district.”
In addition to the $2.5 million from the State of Connecticut, a $2,000,000 construction loan will be provided by the Leviticus Fund. The remaining costs of the $5,270,000 project will be covered from sales of the homes. The City of Hartford will play a critical role by providing down payment assistance to first time homebuyers.
The general contractor will be Pope Park Zion, LLC, a SINA subsidiary, and the construction manager will be Millennium Real Estate Service, LLC. The work will unfold in two phases, starting with six homes on Brownell and Wolcott Streets. The first phase is expected to be completed in about eight months.