The origins of the Farmington Avenue Alliance began
in 1996 when a group of West End residents,
concerned about the future of Farmington Avenue in Hartford, met
to discuss how the neighborhood could stop the evident decline
of the street and restore it to a grander, more economically vibrant
the importance of Farmington Avenue as a gateway to downtown and
to points west, it was decided any planning effort must encompass
the neighboring Asylum Hill area as well as the West End. In a spirit
of cooperation and collaboration, a 20-member committee, the Farmington
Avenue Joint Committee (FAJC) was formed. This committee was comprised
of residents, businesses and institutions in Asylum Hill and the
the beginning the Farmington Avenue Joint Committee shared core
values. It saw a need to revitalize Farmington Avenue not just as
a pretty boulevard but also as a means to improve two urban neighborhoods.
Community building was a guiding force in both the development and
design of the final plan. The key constituencies –residents,
businesses and neighborhood institutions – who will most benefit
from a revitalized Farmington Avenue, were involved throughout the
planning process and adopted the following vision statement to guide
its planning efforts:
envision Farmington Avenue in Hartford as a gateway to the City,
as a charming and beautiful public realm, as a vital urban place
that serves the residents of the neighborhoods it passes through,
and as a Grand Avenue uniting Greater Hartford's western suburbs
with Downtown Hartford. This renewed Avenue supports a high-quality
mix of unique commercial, cultural, professional, residential
and academic activities; it is home to some of the most important
institutions in the Capitol Region. The Avenue is a place where
elderly people feel safe and where parents are comfortable bringing
their children. It is a profitable business location. It is a
center of entertainment and recreation. Streets and facilities
welcome pedestrians and bicyclists. Commercial buildings and public
improvements complement the architectural heritage of the adjacent
residences to create a unique sense of place. The Avenue reflects
the diversity of families and life styles that is one of Hartford's
most valued features. People are drawn from around the region
to this vibrant center of community life.
the year 2000 the Farmington Avenue Joint
Committee had raised nearly $200,000 from the City of Hartford,
foundations and area corporations to fund a plan for the Avenue.
Project for Public Spaces, nationally known for their grassroots-based
planning successes, was hired by FAJC to work with the Committee
and community to develop the plan. Throughout the year the community
was engaged in developing the plan by participating in design workshops
and public forums, by helping gather and process survey data collected
from residents, businesses and employees, and by conducting parking
surveys and walking audits of Farmington Avenue.
to inform the public included establishing a resource center, featuring
a prominent window display, at the Mark Twain Branch of the Hartford
Public Library on Farmington Avenue and writing columns in the Hartford
Courant. Nearly two dozen newspaper stories appeared in the Hartford
Courant, Hartford Business Journal, Hartford Advocate, Hartford
News, Hartford Inquirer and the WECA News.
plan was completed and presented to the public in January
2002. The Farmington Avenue Plan covers the entire
street within the City of Hartford from its origins near Union Station
in downtown Hartford to the West Hartford line at Prospect Avenue.
The document proposed a redesign of the street and upgrading of
the commercial districts. It was well received and FAJC and the
planning firm were highly praised for their involvement of stakeholders
in the planning process.
the plan was completed, FAJC shifted into an implementation phase.
First, it began to focus on its organizational structure. The group
needed to transform itself from a committee into a nonprofit, tax-exempt
organization so it could attract funds. Previously it had relied
on fiscal arrangements with existing agencies to accept contributions
on its behalf. While FAJC was able to cobble together enough funds
to undertake the planning, not having tax exempt status created
a barrier for funding from some sources and would inhibit the group’s
ability to obtain funds in the implementation phase. In June
2002 the Farmington Avenue Alliance (FAA or the Alliance)
was incorporated and received its IRS tax exempt status two months
FAA worked on developing its organization, it also took steps to
move the plan forward. The Commission of the City Plan in August
2002 endorsed the Farmington Avenue Plan. The Court
of Common Council endorsed the plan three months later in November
2002. More significantly city staff and council members
agreed the plan should receive financial support and the city administration
began to put in place a way to fund the design and engineering work
necessary to reshape Farmington Avenue.
In August 2003 the administration released a Request for Proposals to hire an engineering team to develop construction documents to implement a portion of the plan. However, the firm hired by the City, URS, did not begin work on the project until August 2005.
Implementation plans for Phase 1 construction, an area between Marshall Street in Asylum Hill and Denison Street in the West End are ready. However, work has been delayed until 2012 so that it can directly follow a Metropolitan District Commission project that will replace the 1876-era water main currently under Farmington Avenue.