Hartford marks opening of 84-unit apartment complex
City adds to multi-family housing inventory


Dec. 15, 2017

President of PRE/MIER Real Estate Management Casey Duffey wears the ribbon that was cut for the grand opening ceremony for Birch Crossing apartment complex Thursday afternoon in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

HARTFORD — A change in the city’s master plan in 2016 has allowed the construction of additional multi-family housing units in the city.

On Thursday, local leaders and officials with PRE/MIER Real Estate Management took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new 84-unit Birch Crossing apartment complex. There are seven 12-unit buildings in the development on about 17 acres along Liberty Drive behind Walmart on the city’s west side. The complex offers high-end apartments just a short distance from the Dodge Industrial Park.

“We are excited that this developer has helped answer the call from local employers asking for more housing options,” said City Administrator Steve Volkert. “These 84 units add to the recently completed Oriole Ponds subdivision along Highway 83, the new downtown apartments most recently completed at the Hilt Building at the corner of highways 83 and 60 and the soon-to-be completed Welsch Building apartments at the corner of Main and Mill streets. Not to mention the beautiful Wilson Heights apartments totaling 82 units along Wilson Ave.”

In early 2016, with the assistance of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hartford Area Development Corporation and the Hartford Downtown Business Improvement District, a housing survey was conducted to explore the needs of local employees who are not currently living in Hartford. Of those who responded, the most common need is for starter, single-family homes between the price of $80,000 and $150,000. The second most desired dwelling could be an apartment between $400 and $800 in rent.

Mayor Tim Michalak said the city is faced with a problem of having more jobs than people within its borders.

“We’re a highly developed area with quality employers and we need to have it where more of the people who work at those places can live here,” Michalak said. “We have over 300 market rate, high quality apartments opening up in the next several months. We’ve got some on Loos Street, some on Oriole Pond that are opening soon and then these as well as others that are on the drawing board.”

Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce board member Bette VonGunten smiles as she talks with friends Thursday afternoon during the grand opening ceremony for Birch Crossing apartment complex in Hartford.
John Ehlke/Daily News

In 2016, City Planner Justin Drew said housing development in the city over the decade previous primarily focused on single-family construction. He said at that time it led to the city lagging behind a “self imposed goal for the number of multi-family units in the city.”

After that the focus turned to multi-family housing with the Birch Crossing development and other similar projects adding to the housing inventory. According to the city’s master plan before the development was proposed in 2016, the property was designated for commercial development, but efforts to do that were unsuccessful.

City officials said earlier because the location is tucked away it’s hard to see from Highway 60 — which is a problem for commercial development. Wetlands and flood plain issues also made the property impractical for commercial development.

Part of the developer’s plan for Birch Crossing included the possible extension of a bike trail and the future extension of Liberty Avenue into the Dodge Industrial Park.

Casey Duffey, president of PRE/MIER Real Estate Management said him and his company are very excited and are looking forward to being “a very nice development” in the city of Hartford for many years to come.

“We broke ground in late 2016,” Duffey said. “The first building is now open and the next building will open the month after that and so on until all seven buildings are open in about six months.”

Duffey described the apartments as spacious with modern floor plans, luxury features like luxury vinyl tile, stainless steel appliances, attached garages, and individual furnaces and central air.

“They all provide privacy and there is on-site management and maintenance,” Duffey said. “We really specialize in modern upscale apartments in mid-size communities like Hartford.