Fresh start once again desired for vacant, decaying Comet Diner in Hartford’s Asylum Hill

HARTFORD — A long-vacant, decaying vintage diner on Farmington Avenue — a Hartford landmark when it was the Comet in the 1980s and 1990s — could make a comeback and supply a b st to revitalization in the city’s Asylum Hill neighborh d.

The chrome and metal diner, which escaped demolition 2 yrs ago, is under brand new ownership. The master sees prospective where today there are only moldering b ths and chipped fl r tile and small evidence of its storied past dating to the 1940s.

Wayne Benjamin, the key in Triumph investment capital LLC of Windsor, who owns the diner, stated a restaurant that is new need to produce a draw as being a local location since the Comet did and, for decades before it, the Aetna Diner. But a restaurant that is new could benefit from its location because it is appropriate around the corner from the CTfastrak section, while Aetna Inc.’s head office is really a five minute walk away.

“If it is possible to provide and create a product that is g d at the end of the time, individuals can come,” Benjamin said. “simply l k down the street, and there’s Tisane, a restaurant that’s flourishing.”

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The redevelopment is daunting, but, and it is anticipated to cost more than $2 million, excluding the anticipated treatment of lead paint, asbestos and contaminated soil. If funding is guaranteed, a restaurant that is new open in 2020, Benjamin stated, noting which he has received interest from prospective operators. He declined to name them.

Benjamin, a city that is former official, had represented the last owners inside their plans to demolish the diner in 2016 to pursue redevelopment. Nevertheless the town said it would Miami Gardens escort service maybe not accept this type of plan because it wasn’t convinced the owners had explored all alternatives for preserving the diner, that has st d in the corner since 1948.

In 2017, Benjamin quietly bought the building and an parking that is adjoining for $39,000. Last year, he secured a $105,000 loan through the state dept. of Economic and Community Development for ecological cleaning. He’s assembled a group of consultants — including two firms that are hartford-based Maier Design Group and Freeman Cos., and Eagle Environmental Inc. of Terryville — to the office in the project. Benjamin is also l king for a listing in the state’s register of historic places to be eligible for rehabilitation tax credits.

Benjamin’s biggest challenge are securing financing for the project. Although Benjamin said he hopes to attract personal investors, he concedes a chunk that is significant probably need certainly to originate from general public subsidy

“I’m very optimistic,” Benjamin stated. “But at the same time, I’m guarded. It’s guarded optimism.”

David MacDonald, executive director associated with the Asylum Hill Neighborh d Association and a city that is former user, stated the rehabilitation for the diner gets the prospective not to only anchor the redevelopment of its block but the wider six-block stretch between Sigourney and W dland roads which includes the Mark Twain home.

“It’s likely to be a significant, major enhancement for the avenue because you’re going to have location restaurant that’s planning to attract individuals from outside the neighbor h d into the neighborh d,” MacDonald said. “It’s likely to offer more base traffic regarding the street, and that’s important for everyone else in the neighborh d.”

Preserving a building just like the diner — practically an one-of-a-kind structure — “can be a real catalyst to jump beginning other projects,” said Mary A. Falvey, executive manager for the Hartford Preservation Alliance. The alliance has placed the diner on its list of top endangered structures in Hartford.

“One associated with the important things about iconic historic structures like [the diner] is they link a neighborh d’s past to the present residents along with move it ahead into the future,” Falvey said, including that the diner does not fundamentally need to be a restaurant in its next life.

Some early signs of progress are increasingly being made along Farmington Avenue between downtown and also the communities in the West End. As an example, townhouses integrated 1909 and a block to the west of the diner are now renovated after being left vacant and deteriorating for the ten years.

In a tour week that is last of diner, Benjamin said it is possible the downstairs that as s n as hosted the Comet Lounge — a sign utilizing the name survives as visitors descend the actions — also could possibly be renovated for the club. An elevator would have to be installed to help make the space meet contemporary access and building codes.

There isn’t any electricity in the building at this time, therefore Benjamin and others on the tour usage flashlights from their cellphones to illuminate the downstairs space. The light reveals a phase with drawings of jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and perhaps Ella Fitzgerald in the wall that is back.

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