The City is looking to revitalize the Walnut Hill Historic District. A grant of $50,000 from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation was given to allow the City to hire a professional consulting service to assess the current conditions of the district and to formulate strategies and projects to preserve and improve its historical character, to beautify it and improve the quality of life for the neighborhood and adjoining businesses.
Steven Schiller, of the economic development division, said a five block area around downtown and South High St. will be focused on.
“They will probably make recommendations regarding specific buildings,” said Schiller. “We hope whoever we hire will have a range of things we can do.”
It is anticipated that the consultant chosen will be a disciplinary team that will work with the City to develop approaches and strategies for revitalization.
The consultant is expected to make a thorough assessment of the streets within the project as well as various planning studies to establish plans for a project.
“They may say the area is looking rundown and we should do an extension of your downtown streetscape into this area to make it a better looking streetscape,” said Schiller. “My hope is they may say here three buildings that have a lot of potential for historic rehab.”
Some buildings in the area are said to be blighted.
There might be grants and other funding opportunities for the owners of the properties or the City to be able to fix up a building that is under utilized. It may then bring in a big return on investments.
“It’s kind of an expertise in the residential rehab area,” said Schiller. “These would show or bring in a private investor to make a project possible.”
The study is expected to take about 180 days to be completed once a consultant is hired.
“Some of these high profile projects can make a big difference in turning an area around,” Schiller added.
The Walnut Hill District was awarded National Register status in 1975 ad contains a number of prominent buildings of significant importance. The district is a mixed use residential neighborhood which connects to downtown and Walnut Hill Park.