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HARTFORD-The long awaited first phase of the Front Street Project has finally begun. A little more than two weeks after a key agreement was reached between the state, city and developer H.B. Nitkin Group on the planned entertainment, retail and residential project, ground was broken on the venture here last Thursday.

At the ground-breaking ceremony, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said, “Hartford’s future has never been brighter and the Front Street Project embodies that future. This project will draw people and business from the entire region and that will mean long-term revitalization and economic development for our capital city. This is a smart-indeed visionary-investment that will benefit the city for years to come.”

Earlier this month the parties involved with the project reached a $22-million agreement to begin the first phase of the Front Street Project. The accord calls for the Capital City Economic Development Authority to provide a $12-million housing subsidy, of which $2.25 million will be a loan, and the state will provide another $9.75 million in grants. The City of Hartford has also agreed to dedicate US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds and provide the project with a tax abatement incentive.

The first phase of the Front Street Project was to involve only 60 residential units and 43,000 sf of restaurant and entertainment space. It has now been expanded to 115 residential units and 60,000 sf of restaurant and entertainment space.

Front Street is the final piece of the $656-million Adriaen’s Landing development project, which consists of the Connecticut Convention Center, the Marriott Hartford Downtown Hotel, the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration, related parking facilities and the new Front Street entertainment/retail/residential district.

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