Hartford HealthCare to revamp historic Frog Hollow buildings

Liese Klein, Staff Writer

Faced with pushback from Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood, Hartford HealthCare agreed to keep two apartment buildings on Washington Street standing and sink more than $1 million into transforming them into medical facilities.

At the Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Hartford Historic Preservation Commission, the health system withdrew its application to demolish the derelict former apartment building at 224 Washington St. and draft a plan to renovate it and a neighboring structure.

“We’ve pivoted to a plan where we’d like to restore or at least preserve the facade,” said Dave Casale, senior director of facility planning and construction at Hartford HealthCare. “Salvaging these facades is a very significant investment, likely in the seven figures. We will have a vested interest in an executing something on the corner of Washington and Jefferson.”

Hartford HealthCare’s flagship, Hartford Hospital, bought a 1913-built building at 224 Washington St. for $550,000 in 2010. A 1915-vintage apartment building next door at 216-218 Washington St. was also acquired as part of a project to expand the hospital’s footprint in the Frog Hollow area.

After standing vacant for decades, 224 Washington had decayed to a point that Hartford officials declared it unsafe as of earlier this year. The health system sought to demolish it and replace it with a grassy lot, with a longer-term plan to build on the property.

Photos of crumbling brick walls and rotten floors were included in the hospital’s application to the Hartford Historic Preservation Commission asking for approval to demolish the building. Stabilizing the structure alone would require replacement of all of the building’s interior framing and rebuilding 50 percent of its load-bearing walls, according to a report by engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill.

Casale said Hartford HealthCare had yet to determine what medical services would be offered at the location once the buildings had been renovated. “We have a lot of work to do around programming, what services we envision being in the building that are best for the community,” he said.

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