Our Inspiring Places team works to empower our neighborhood transformation efforts by developing physical transformation and development strategies that are engaged with and responsive to the needs and aspirations of local residents.
Located in the heart of Northeast Hartford, the 65,000 square-foot Swift gold leafing factory is not what it used to be. Once the economic engine of the neighborhood, the long-vacant factory offers a grim reminder of the city’s fleeting industrial glory days. Now, Community Solutions is betting on a bold plan to bring jobs and economic vitality back to Northeast Hartford by transforming the old Swift factory into a vibrant community hub for employment and local entrepreneurship. The historic, industrial brownfield site contains a central manufacturing building as well as two homes on land totaling 2.6 acres.
Working with local community organizers and hundreds of residents, we have begun work to identify the neighborhood’s existing assets and core needs, which will inform programming for the complex. In response to the feedback we have collected to date, we are planning to transform the site into a green campus to anchor sustainable development activities and create at least 50 jobs. The redeveloped Swift complex will be arranged around three core elements: Made at Swift, Healthy Swift and Green Swift. Made at Swift will encompass a food manufacturing hub, a cafe and a commercial kitchen that would offer classes and shared equipment. Healthy Swift will support the health and wellness of local residents through a free health clinic, complete with nutrition education and a variety of health programming. Green Swift will create jobs and support sustainable living through green building technology and sustainable site designs.
Each initiative, including the refurbishment of the site, will provide opportunities for job training and job creation to help drive economic growth and entrepreneurial activity within the neighborhood. The project is intended to be an example of how the reimagining of abandoned spaces can impact the social, environmental and economic conditions of distressed neighborhoods.
The Swift Factory restoration is part of a larger neighborhood transformation effort that links the activities and investments of more than 40 organizations. The project capitalizes on Northeast Hartford’s many strengths, including its rich history, convenience to downtown, and unique physical assets, like the 692-acre Olmsted-designed Keney Park, one of the country’s largest urban parks.