The City of Hartford turned out to be the big winner from one of the final meetings of the bond commission run by Gov. Dannel Malloy.
The Capital City emerged with more than $50 million in investment, including funds for a parking garage across the street from the Bushnell Theater, residential and commercial space near Dunkin' Donuts Park and funding to help lure a grocery store to the corner of Main Street and Albany Avenue.
The final item, led to the most questions from Rep. Chris Davis, (R – Ellington), who was also critical of the state coming very close to reaching its annual borrowing limit.
"The private sector has clearly said we don't have the resources or there isn't the ability to do it privately like they would in any other community across the state. I'm not aware of the state funding grocery stores in any other town."
Malloy said to Davis during the meeting, “a full-fledged grocery store…hasn’t been located in Hartford in a generation.”
One market located in the Harford 21 building closed in 2014, and only a couple of years ago, a small neighborhood shop that sells some fresh groceries opened.
The lack of a true grocery store is what led to the distinction from the Department of Agriculture deeming Hartford a “food desert.”
The $8 million loan from the state is in part a loan, and in part would be paid back based on the performance of the store.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said this kind of investment shows that Hartford is a place that can grow.
"It's loans that become part of a broader financing effort that leverages a whole lot of private capital and for too long a lot of traditional investors haven't seen the possibility or potential here, which is why you've got to prime that pump," Bronin said.
When asked whether Malloy was trying to take care of certain projects, like assistance for Hartford, on his way out of office, the governor said, ”There's only one governor at a time. I'm governor until the end of my term and I'm going to work just as hard every day for the next number of days to the end of the term as I have previously."