For decades, Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood has endured its share of ups and downs. The once-elegant 1907 brick apartment house at 445 Zion Street was a symbol of the neglect and disinvestment that residents have long endured. Abandoned in the late 1980s and severely damaged by fire in 2002, the building was so decrepit that not even inspectors would enter, for fear it might collapse.
Neighbors had campaigned for the city to deal with 445 Zion, and recently, their demands were finally answered. Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Inc. (MHAGH), a LISC partner with 30 years’ experience creating quality, affordable rental housing, has been transforming sections of Frog Hollow as part of its Summit Park development. As of last year, 42 units of housing scattered throughout six historic buildings had been completely renovated and are fully occupied. The City of Hartford donated 445 Zion to MHAGH to incorporate into their efforts in Frog Hollow.
MHAGH was committed to bringing the structure back to its original glory. A predevelopment loan from LISC helped to complete the redesign of the building (along with the others in the Summit Park project), converting it into 15 units for seniors who qualify because of their low income. That loan also succeeded in leveraging historic tax credits and other project financing.
A LISC “green grant,” moreover, made it possible to make 445 Zion energy-efficient and to ensure reasonable utility costs for low-income households. The roof is now lined with solar panels and the building, along with others in the development, is outfitted with long-lasting hardwood floors and granite countertops—environmentally and financially sound choices that require less maintenance and replacement. Every aspect of the renovation weighed the historic value of the building with sustainability, finding a comfortable balance of preservation and greening.
An elevator and handicap adaptable units, as well as a first-floor common area for socializing, were some of the design choices MHAGH made to ensure that 445 Zion was accommodating to seniors.
In addition to those critical early investments, LISC worked closely with MHAGH to hone the group’s strategy for development in Frog Hollow. LISC also provided operating support and guidance to the developer, some of it through Section 4 capacity-building grants over the life of the project. And alongside LISC Hartford, LISC’s affiliate, National Equity Fund, provided more than $9 million in tax credit equity: 69% of the project total.
Now, thanks in large part to a total investment of nearly $9.5 million and the commitment of LISC staff, 445 Zion, and the five other Summit Park buildings, have gone from blighted, abandoned, and dangerous to beautiful, functional and safe. And Frog Hollow is on its way back up.
Photos: Courtesy Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Andrea Pereira
75 Charter Oak Ave., Suite 2-250
Hartford, CT 06106