Developer wants a series of apartment buildings, new businesses between Highway 4 and the Farmington River in Farmington

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A West Hartford developer is proposing to build 190 apartments and renovate commercial space along a stretch from Farmington Avenue to Farmington.

The plan is to rehabilitate a nearly century-old grain storage building along the Big Bird Bridge and construct more than half a dozen new residential buildings on the mostly wooded property.

The nearly 25-acre site is wedged between Farmington Avenue and the Farmington River, and Kaoud Real Estate Development LLC will need a permit for the wetlands. The local wetlands commission will consider the proposal in a hearing Wednesday at 7pm; the session will take place in person at the town hall and also online at us02web.zoom.us/j/89789302343.

The Planning and Zoning Commission backed the concept last year when it granted an area change to encourage mixed-use development there.

Without this change, “the most likely future development would be the development of strip retail businesses taking advantage of the Highway 4 frontage. This would not be the ideal development of the plot,” the planners wrote.

“Perhaps the most unique attribute is the old McCallum grain storage building,” they wrote. “There are two buildings totaling 40,000 square feet. One building is four stories tall with impressive views. The buildings are almost entirely vacant and ready for redevelopment.

An auto parts company currently occupies the first floor of the main building, which was built in 1924 as a flour mill with a grain elevator nearby.

The building still has a trestle on the third floor leading to the old railroad tracks that once connected New Haven and Massachusetts; the path – including the so-called Big Bird Bridge – is now a popular rail trail. West of the Big Bird, the trail continues over a much longer bridge that crosses the river.

Kaoud’s plan is to rehabilitate this building and a nearby vacant building for commercial and possibly residential use. The developer is also considering a swimming pool, clubhouse, barbecue and barbecue area for residents, as well as a pétanque court and playground.

The site stretches south of Farmington Avenue and east of the railroad tracks, and towards the west end, wraps around the rear of the Gallery Salon. Kaoud is planning a series of three-story apartment buildings with a parking lot underneath.

The project would include a cycle path connecting the adjacent Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.

The property is also just under a mile from Monteith Drive; the city is interested in extending Monteith from Town Hall across Route 4 and onto New Britain Avenue. This would add a bridge over the Farmington River, an addition that many city officials believe is necessary to reduce traffic.


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