iqarticleCondo Group Appeals Decision
Fights Plan To Move Gold Street

BY KENNETH R. GOSSELIN KGOSSELIN@COURANT.COM

HARTFORD — The relocation of downtown’s Gold Street was supposed to get underway next month, but opponents have not given up on their fight to stop the project.

The condominium association at nearby Bushnell Tower is appealing the planning and zoning commission’s Feb. 10 approval of a plan to straighten the road and swing it south. The move would create a bigger park area to the north that supporters say would connect Bushnell Park to Main Street.

The appeal, filed in Superior Court in Hartford this week, seeks to delay the start of the project until the appeal is completed.

In the appeal, the association argues the commission ignored concerns that traffic congestion would worsen with the relocation, eliminating options for vehicles turning out of Lewis Street. The commission also didn’t consider that the area’s traffic will increase amid nearby new apartment construction and the opening of a new University of Connecticut campus downtown, the opponents say.

The relocation would make it tougher for the tower’s residents to drive into their property, the appeal stated. And it would increase noise by moving the road closer to the condo tower. Those factors and others could affect property values, the appeal argues.

“This is definitely not an anti-iQuilt complaint,” said Keith R. Ainsworth, a New Haven lawyer representing the association. “But these people have made real investments in the city and live there. This does create a lot of problems.”

IQuilt is a vision for tying together downtown cultural attractions and entertainment venues and creating more walkable access to Bushnell Park and the riverfront. Moving the road would create a continuous green space on the north side of the street, to be called Bushnell Gardens, essentially expanding Bushnell Park to Main Street.

The road’s new path would traverse city-owned land that has essentially served as a spacious lawn area for Bushnell Tower for decades. The condo owners have argued the same effect could be created without relocating the road, by designing a system of walkways. This alternative, they said, would also save the city money and still accomplish the goals of iQuilt.

Both Sara Bronin, the planning and zoning commission’s chairwoman, and Thomas E. Deller, the city’s director of development services, declined comment Friday, citing the pending appeal.

Jackie Mandyck, iQuilt’s managing director, said Friday that the non-profit partnership continues to believe the relocation of Gold Street is right for iQuilt and the city.

“It’s a shame some people are trying to hold back a project that has been approved,” Mandyck said. “We are still optimistic that construction will start this spring and it will be relocated by November of 2015.”

The street relocation is part of a much larger transportation project, the $25 million Intermodal Triangle Project, intended to dovetail with iQuilt, making the streets near Bushnell Park more accommodating to public transportation and pedestrians. The project is being financed partly with a federal transportation grant.