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Economic Development, Urban Planning, Project Management

by Mike Masciadrelli on Nexstar Media Inc.

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Plans are in the works to redevelop the legendary Comet Diner in Hartford. It’s a longtime go-to destination in the city for food, social gatherings and nightlife.

“I eat out regularly, but I got to other neighborhoods,” said Jackie McKinney, Chairperson of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association.

Asylum Hill resident, Jackie McKinney, has helped lead the charge to resurrect the former Comet Diner that sits vacant at the corner of Laurel Street and Farmington Avenue. On the National Register of Historic Places, the retro diner was a popular restaurant and meeting spot for the community. At one point, it featured a nightclub in the basement.

“We would go there from work, grab a bite to eat, and it was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” McKinney said.

“I remember going with my mother and father as a person born and raised in Hartford, living down the street,” said Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter.

The Comet Diner opened in 1984. The stainless steel vintage building has been decaying for over 15 years, but now there are plans to remediate and renovate the building and bring back life to this neighborhood.

“The glasswork in the building, the etchings on it, which makes this really unique and it sits there undisturbed,” said Wayne Benjamin, a developer.

Windsor-based developer Wayne Benjamin said the diner’s overall structure won’t change since they must retain its historic nature. Renovations will include the installation of a new roof and elevator, as well as an electric car charging station and a bike rack.

The Community Investment Fund will donate $1.2 million to pay for most of this project.
“It shows you the interest, in this case, a neighborhood organization,” Ritter said. “Thirty people from the neighborhood there said if we can put an application in, this gives people access to state government.”

The new diner is at the forefront of a major transformation for this area of Hartford that will include a streetscape project and redevelopment of blighted homes over the next few years.

“We want to make sure the whole area is an attractive place, is redeveloped and revitalized so it’s an attractive place for people to come,” said David McDonald, Executive Director of Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association.

Work on the diner is expected to begin before the end of the year and should be complete by the end of September 2023.

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