Annual Downtown District Meeting Projects Positive Outlook

By at May 25, 2017 | 3:15 pm | Print

The New Britain Downtown District’s 33rd Annual Meeting on Tuesday elected new officers and approved a new budget while presenting a positive outlook of the future for the downtown.

Mayor Erin E. Stewart gave opening remarks commenting on all the great businesses that have opened up downtown.

“That doesn’t happen by chance. That happens by putting a lot of hard work in and creating an environment that is friendly to restaurants and business and to create a downtown vibe we haven’t seen in quite a long time,” said Stewart. “We are seeing much more renewed interest in coming to downtown New Britain. In the last year we have a lot to be proud of. There is so much momentum in the Central business district.”

Stewart highlighted Mofongo and Yo-Yo restaurants as well as Hardware City Cafe. The Herald Square building and Columbus Commons were also mentioned.

She said negotiations with Central Connecticut State University and The Plaza building are still ongoing.

High Voltage Art and Bees Across New Britain are bringing art downtown and throughout the City.

“Artists are transforming boxes into magnificent pieces of art that are becoming conversation pieces for many people who are walking by,” said Stewart. “We have been so busy. Our economic development office has been buzzing.”

Stewart recommended that the district run walking tours and extend the Design Program to surrounding streets.

Commissioners chosen to serve a two year term were Diane Eschner, Avner Krohn, Aaron Atwater, Dennis Morell, Shirley Perrin, Orson Rothkopf, Frank Shank and Leo Gagne.

Steve Amato is secretary, Justine Moriarty is chair, Leo Gagne is vice chair and Ken Carifa is treasurer.

A budget of $224, 372 was approved.

Rashmi Patel, Kris Rutkowski and Les Majewski were given certificates of thanks for their past work on the board.

“Like our forefathers of this City, some of them came here with nothing: they were not rich, nor famous, so too many of us came to downtown,” said Frank Shank, outgoing board chairman. “They built their businesses here and it became one of the greatest manufacturing stories of all time. And, I believe we invested here in downtown because we believe it is a good investment that offers property owners a better place to come, rest, stay and live.”

Gerry Amodio, Downtown District Executive Director, said in the meeting that this was his 7th year in the position and it is a significant number.

“Seven years certainly goes fast. I took this job for three years and then said five years, if they would have me. It’s been a real journey,” said Amodio. “It’s not easy to take an urban center and change it. We really have a pretty downtown.”

Amodio said New Britain is in a good place as there are “cranes in the air”.

“The Jasko Raphael Building will be ready for occupancy this summer.

The cranes will soon be seen at the mixed Columbus Commons projects; the cranes will soon be seen at the Beehive Bridge project at Main Street and the realignment of the Bank Street Project,” said Amodio. “We are nowhere near where we are going to be, but cranes in the air is the most significant sign of success. We are growing. I couldn’t be more excited.”

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