In the Upper Albany neighborhood of Hartford, CT, work is afoot to revitalize the community. The neighborhood is a newly designated federal Promise Zone, and both the City of Hartford and the University of Hartford have come together to facilitate investment in the community, including major street improvements.
It is in this community that Reinvestment Fund is financing improvements to the Albany Shopping Plaza, the neighborhood’s main shopping center and home to Bravo Supermarkets, its only grocery store.
With Reinvestment Fund financing, the long-time grocery store operator and owner of the shopping center, Candido DeLeon, was able to buy out former partners and obtain a 100% ownership in the property in order to make safety and other improvements to the 74,000 square foot shopping center. The center’s nine tenants include a Rite Aid pharmacy, restaurants and small retail that serve a diverse community with large percentage of African American and Hispanic residents. The area is very low income, with a median income of 52% of area median income, 17% unemployment and a 33% poverty.
Plans include major roof repairs, facade improvements, updating all lighting, and repaving and re-striping the parking lot. Facade improvements will create more and larger windows in each of the tenant spaces, creating a brighter and more welcoming environment. Additionally a large structure will be built in the center of the parking lot that will have security cameras, lights and a garden space. A safe, well-lit and renovated retail center in the community will complement the Promise Zone investments and has the potential to be an anchor for new economic development.
The Bravo grocery store has been part of the community for years and serves a very high SNAP population. The store is the nearest option for 15,600 residents, of which 2,700 more would be living in Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) areas in the face of closure. This is in addition to the 6,600 people currently living in the closest existing LSA. The improvements for the center will improve the facade, access and environment of the store. Many of the shopping center’s tenants have been at the center for 15 to 20 years, and it currently has no vacancies.