New business opens in Hartford’s historic Hilt building
Renovations begin in earnest on old Welsch building

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

August 3, 2017

The front entrance and window of the Local Collective, which is now open in the ground floor retail space of the historic Hilt Building, is seen Tuesday in Hartford.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News


HARTFORD — Redevelopment of the city’s downtown continues to progress as more milestones have been reached over the last several days.

On Tuesday, The Local Collective opened its doors for the first day of business in the ground floor of the historic Hilt building at the corner of Main and Sumner streets.

The renovation included construction of five apartments in the building’s upper floors and completion of the 1,335 square feet of retail space where a pet store was formerly located.

Kayla Gerard, Local Collective owner, said her business had operated for about seven months in West Bend, but when the new space in Hartford became available she knew she found the right location.

“I live in Hartford, so having the business in the downtown is very convenient for me and you can’t beat this location,” Gerard said. “We’re right in the downtown at one of the city’s busiest intersections. The building is remodeled and it looks so nice and we’ve gotten such a great reception and so much support.”

Fifty-five artists and crafts people are selling their work at the Local Collective. According to a business brochure, customers will find furniture, mugs, home decor, pillows, candles, tea, wood signs, essential oils, jewelry, soaps and things for kids and babies — all for sale there.

Shoppers browse items Tuesday on the first day of business for the Local Collective, which opened in the ground floor of the historic Hilt Building in downtown Hartford. The business sells handmade goods created by local artists and makers. The business is located at the corner of Main and Sumner streets.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News

Meanwhile, Second Chance Ventures LLC, which owns the Hilt building and completed the renovations, continues behind-the-scenes work on the project.

“We still have two two-bedroom apartments for rent and we are looking to lease the basement space where a former sports bar was located,” said Danny Dulak, who along with his wife Wendy, own Second Chance Ventures.

“If I could wave a magic wand I would love for it be a bar/grill or a wine bar or something like that,” Dulak said. “I am showing it and now that we have the ground floor retail space leased, we’re working on giving more attention to leasing the basement space and working on the Welsch Building.”

Second Chance Ventures also purchased the old Welsch building (known by some as the Mole Hole Building) at they bought the Hilt building. After gutting that building last year renovations have now shifted into high gear there.

“We are in the process of replacing all the windows there much in the same vein as we did at the Hilt building,” Dulak said. “We have stud walls that are up and rough mechanicals, both plumbing and electric, are going in now.”

Dulak said he hopes to have the apartments available for rent in the late fall, after that the retail space will be completed.

“For the retail space we are pursuing restaurants for probably two of the three retail areas and then we’d have a retail business in the third,” Dulak said. “There will be five one-bedroom apartments in the Welch building. They will be slightly smaller and little more economical for some. We hope to hit a niche there.”

Dulak said he’s already had some people who have reached out to him about occupying the new apartments, which also have parking spaces available.

“There’s now scaffolding on one side of street for replacing all the old windows,” Dulak said. “We’ll be updating the building’s trim work, but keeping the same iconic look with new materials that should last another 100 years.”

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