Breaking Ground on the Swift Factory
What does it take to bring investment back to a community? A lot of teamwork.
On Saturday we broke ground on the Swift Factory, a $33 million project to transform an abandoned factory into a food business hub for North Hartford, and recognized our many partners who have made this redevelopment possible.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative John Larson, Mayor Luke Bronin, and Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Chairwoman Darlene Robertson-Childs joined community residents in celebrating the redevelopment of the historic factory, which was once a prominent gold leaf manufacturing business and important source of jobs for the neighborhood.
The M. Swift & Sons Factory operated out of this North Hartford site since 1887. When the business closed in 2005, the building sat vacant for several years and came close to being demolished. Neighborhood leaders enlisted the help of Community Solutions to save the property, which was donated by the Swift family.
“Many people looked at this project and said it was impossible. There was no way to put together the financing or attract tenants in this neighborhood,” said Dave Foster, a Principal at Community Solutions who leads the Real Estate division. “For us ‘impossible’ was not an option— ‘impossible’ meant giving up on this community and so many others like it across the country. We were simply not willing to accept that vision of America.”
The factory’s redevelopment is made possible through an innovative blend of public and private capital— including New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, government grants, economic and community development loans, and philanthropic capital— enabled by the federal Promise Zone designation and the support of local and national funders. Senators Chris Murphy and Blumenthal and Representative Larson, along with city and community organizations, worked to secure North Hartford’s Promise Zone designation in 2015.
Local restaurant group Bear's Smokehouse BBQ will be an anchor tenant, producing their line of sides and sauces onsite. The redeveloped factory will also include a 35,000-square-foot indoor farm run by FreshBox Farms, and a commercial kitchen space and incubator for developing local food businesses. The two historic houses on the property are also being redeveloped for community uses. The project is expected to bring 150 long-term jobs to North Hartford.
Community members were invited to sign a beam at the groundbreaking, which will be installed in the redeveloped building. The event featured performances by local bands the Music Pals from Thirman Milner School and Michael Scott Jr. and Da Heartbeats and included food from the factory’s future anchor tenants, Bear's Smokehouse BBQ and FreshBox Farms.
The groundbreaking event brought together many of the people who helped make this project possible— including neighbors, funders, elected officials, future tenants, and the Swift family. We thank everyone for their support of the project and encourage you to explore the event's program, where we feature many of partners who have contributed to the Swift Factory's redevelopment.
Construction is expected to be complete in December 2019. For more information on the Swift Factory, visit www.swiftfactory.org and follow us on Facebook to watch the building transform.