A Restored Pratt Street
Through improved and restored retail storefronts, renovated residential spaces, and curated programming, Pratt St is being rediscovered.
HARTFORD — Locals gathered at the heart of downtown Hartford Wednesday to celebrate the official relaunch of the Pratt Street Historic District, after a few years of continuous construction and planning, with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and remarks from the different contributors within the project.
Small Pride flags adorned Pratt Street where Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin stood with Michael Seidenfeld, chief operating officer of Shelbourne Global Solutions, the city’s largest landlord; Yvette Highsmith-Francis, regional vice president of Community Health Center, Inc.; city council members; and Pratt Street business owners to all speak on the estimated $50 million renovation project and promote the upcoming Pratt Street Summer Kick-Off Party.
A few dozen people attended the ceremony, as locals walking by stopped to join the diverse crowd of business owners, local residents and city visitors. The lack of masks and closer interaction visibly showed a return to normalcy as COVID-19 vaccination rates continually increase.
“Pratt Street has always served as a reflection and a barometer for the fortunes and the state of this city,” Seidenfeld explained. “Most recently, the unprecedented pandemic has left the streets empty, quiet, and void of life. Today, we give you a new era, a new era on Pratt Street and in Pratt Street’s storied history.”
The COVID-19 pandemic had significantly disrupted Shelbourne Global Solutions’ plans to revitalize the historic block, delaying its completion by a year, Seidenfeld told the Courant. However, the area’s developer expressed strong hope that the project would be able to capitalize on the pandemic’s end as residents continue to get vaccinated and can safely go out again, just in time for the summer. Shelbourne seeks to combine people’s ability to safely gather and go out again with the historic block’s long-awaited comeback.
“We would like to invite everybody in the city of Hartford, in the greater region of Hartford, and beyond, to come and to celebrate the Pratt Street Summer Kick-Off Party that will celebrate a new era of Pratt Street and kick off a summer season full of exciting and diverse events, activities that will last into the fall,” Seidenfeld said.
The party will take place on Pratt Street Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Attendees can enjoy free drinks from Vaughan’s Irish Public House, outdoor vendors, along with food and drink specials. There will also be a fashion show hosted by Moreneault’s Stackpole Moore Tryon, a variety of live music featuring local musicians and a free vaccination clinic courtesy of Community Health Center, Inc. at 103 Pratt St..
“This Saturday is going to be a ton of fun but this isn’t about one Saturday, this is about a rhythm of activity and energy here on Pratt Street,” Bronin said.
Throughout the summer and fall visitors will find live music three nights a week, outdoor dining any day of the week, pop-up shops, free WiFi until the end of September and other event series similar to the Pratt Street Puppy Hour.
Launched this past May, Pratt Street’s official website includes a merchant directory, event calendar, along with retail and residential leasing information. Locals and tourists can check out the variety of businesses and weekly public events from the comfort of their homes. There is also a regularly updated events calendar at one end of Pratt Street.
“The resurgence of Hartford in general, and Pratt Street in particular, is only possible due to the incredibly smart, dedicated, and talented people that call Hartford home,” Seidenfeld said, addressing the crowd of locals.