By Gregory B. Hladky
5:21 PM EDT, October 3, 2012
Christmas has come a bit early for Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in the form of $1.3 million in state cash that won final approval Wednesday. The money, along with another $3.9 million in private investment, will be used to open up a brand new 500-seat theater in Hartford’s long-vacant Front Street project.
After the state Bond Commission cleared release of the money, Gov. Dannel Malloy admitted he’s never been much of a fan of the way the Front Street project section of Hartford’s massive Adriaen’s Landing redevelopment scheme has been handled.
“I’ve never hidden some of my differences I had with the Front Street development,” Malloy said. “I’m not sure the project was as well thought-out as it needed to have been.”
But he added that the Infinity Hall project, together with a new movie theater that is also scheduled to fill in one of the empty spaces on Front Street, is an indication that things are finally moving in the right direction. He pointed out the Infinity Hall part also involves “very sizable private investment,” and said he’s personally dickering with other businesses (which he refused to name) to locate there.
The empty blocks of brand-new buildings along Front Street, which have been vacant ever since they were built, have been an embarassment to both state and Hartford officials.
Robin Barrett, Infinity’s chief financial officer, was glowing after the money was approved and insisted there won’t be any problems with splitting up the music venue’s audience between its existing 300-seat operation in Norfolk and the larger Hartford location.
“We think we’ll be in a very dynamic part of the state in Hartford,” she said, “drawing from an entirely different part of the population.”
The four-screen movie theater is expected to open in November, and Barrett said the plan is for the new Infinity Hall and Bistro to be in operation by the fourth quarter of 2014.
The state bond money is a low-interest (2 percent) loan over 10 years. But $1 million of that loan will be forgiven if Infinity Hall keeps its promise to retain 53 jobs and create 34 new ones in Hartford and Norfolk within three years.
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