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East Street TOD: A College Town

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(Part 4 of 4)

Perhaps one of the most exciting part of the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) plan calls for making East Street, near the CTFastrak, a college town.

The third part of the TOD study, by Milone and MacBroom, looks at East Street which is a mixture of uses integrated for pedestrian-friendly development.

According to the study, “As a link between the CCSU campus and the CTfastrak station and with existing residential densities, East Street is a logical corridor in which to encourage TOD.”

In order to encourage pedestrian-friendly development, East Street should undergo a “road diet” and other streetscape improvements including bike lanes, new or improved sidewalks and crosswalks, and landscaping.

How can this be done?

Create a vibrant destination area for students, workers, new neighborhood residents, and visitors on East Street, with easy pedestrian and bike connections to campus and the CTFastrak station.

  • Capitalize on recent investments in CTFastrak.
  • Link existing and new development to transit and the multi-use path through improved traffic, safety, and pedestrian conditions in the neighborhood.
  • Create a hub of activity between the station and CCSU through new mixed-use development.
  • Encourage reinvestment in existing multi-family properties in the station area.

“We want to increase the amount of residents we have in this area and integrate development,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “A lot of this is empty land. There is a spark in development with Hot Harry’s Burritos, Dollar General and Pizza Hut. Elmer’s has expanded. We need connectivity to them from CCSU. We need walkable streets.”

The plan will look to develop a hub for student activity including more apartments for them to move to, bars and other places they would go.

“We hear concerns of the neighborhood about an overfill of CCSU students in the residential areas. We can create an area for them to go for the off-campus housing experience, but be close enough to jump on a bus and not wander through the neighborhoods,” said Stewart. “We need to increase the density in this area. There is empty land that has potential for development.”

One idea is to open up Covington Street and connect it to Biltmore Street and Paul Manafort Drive to funnel students to East St.

Phase I is to create the college town feel with restaurants and book stores. Off campus housing will fill the remaining space.

There is space for about 175 residential units.

“We know there is a need for this,” said Stewart. “It will make a very large impact.”

Near the empty Dawg Haus a new owner/developer wants to put his manufacturing business there, but since it such a large property there is potential for more development.”

The City is hoping to put another 50 units at that spot.

“It can really work at the college/residential issues in those neighborhoods,” said Stewart. “We are changing the zoning to allow for this type of development to happen. We have to do this on the City side to make this happen.”

This area of development is being market driven because the market is already here.

“This is so exciting because we are building a college town. This will make the student experience so much better at CCSU,” said Stewart. “Unlike the other areas, where you need to create a market, the market is here. We may end up seeing the East Street Station area develop the quickest. We need to stop that development over the town line (Newington), where Starbucks is coming, and have it come into New Britain.”

This will also build a tax base for the City to help with taxes.

“The plan came out beyond what I expected. I can’t wait to get started implementing it,” said Stewart. “You will never see an increase in business without a vision. This is that starting point.”