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Like most other cities Hartford suffered greatly with the invention of the automobile and then the construction of the interstate highway system which fueled growth into the suburbs. Over the past five to ten years Hartford has seen massive amounts of public and private investment that is similar to that of Providence, Rhode Island, a city that is now known nationally as The Renaissance City.
The city's revitilization started with the publicly financed Adriaens Landing project along the Connecticut River at the edge of downtown. Adriaens Landing includes the new Connecticut Convention Center which is the largest meeting space between New York City and Boston, the new 22 story Marriott Hartford Hotel Downtown and the construction of the CT Science Center which will open in Winter 2008. Adjacent to Adriaens Landing will be Front Street which will include shops, restaurants and apartments.
With much of Adriaens Landing either completed or under construction private developers saw it as a smart time to invest in the city of Hartford.
To attract more residents downtown there are 1,000+ residential units that have opened, are under construction or are in the planning stages. The largest procject was Hartford 21 which created a 36 story residential tower that houses 262 apartments with lower level retail and office space. Elsewhere in the city the former Hartford Telephone Company Building has been transformed into luxury condos, known officially as the Metropolitan. On Jewell Street the former SNET building is now apartments known as 55 on the Park. The former Korvettes Department Store on Main Street is being converted into condos and the former Sage Allen Department store is being made into townhouses in a project known as Main and Temple- named for the fact that the project will once again open up Temple Street which will connect Main and Market Streets.
The redevelopment of downtown has paved the way for an assortment of new restaurants, bars, and clubs to open up which are helping secure Hartford as an entertainment destination. Downtown is home to some of the finest restaurants in the area. Over the past year establishments such as Joe Blacks, Feng, Sally's Fish Camp, Sweet Janes Rock N Roll Cafe and the Firebox Restaurant (to name a few!) have opened up in the capital city.
Downtown is not the only area seeing construction cranes. Over in the city's Asylum Hill neighborhood which is home to is the Mark Twain House and Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is the new home of the CT Culinary Institute. The culinary institute opened up in a former hotel and has hopes of bringing new culinary treats and students to Hartford like Johnson & Wales does in Providence.
At the southern edge of downtown is the former Colt Factory which for years produced Colt firearms. Now there is a massive project underway entitled " Colt Gateway" to restore the entire complex. Each piece of the complex is being renovated to historic standards, one at a time. When the project is completed there will be loft apartments, office space, retail space and possibly even a museum and a national park.