A new tenant is moving into the former Goodwin Branch of the Hartford Public Library.
A unique partnership plans to bring new life to the old building.
In order to cut costs, the Hartford Public Library closed the branch on New Britain Avenue earlier this year, leaving the 1950s brick building vacant.
"The moment the NRZ heard that the library was closing, our members were determined that something had to be done to make sure our community members still had library space and community space," said Kathy Evans of the Southwest and Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Association.
The library announced that CO:LAB, a Hartford-based marketing and design firm, will lease the space and create a new community center, called the Free Center, at the same time.
"Today represents the transition from this being a space that’s just sitting here, to what it will be, which is a dynamic, community center with a thriving business at its heart," said Hartford Public Library CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey.
CO:LAB offices will only occupy about a third of the space. The rest of it will be used for neighborhood meetings programs and performances.
"We want to keep it as open as possible so that the community can teach us about how it wants to use this space," said Rich Hollant, CO:LAB principal.
"I’m looking forward to seeing what great things come from these facilities," said Hartford City Councilman Jimmy Sanchez.
Since the library will still own the building, the people behind the project say the public-private partnership is the best solution to a difficult situation.
"This is something that Hartford could use. This is something that could be a model for other parts of the city," Evans said.