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Hartford’s North End Designated Federal ‘Promise Zone’

A 3-mile swath of north Hartford has been named a federal Promise Zone, a designation that local leaders hope will spark an infusion of manpower and money to one of the capital city’s neediest areas.

City and federal officials announced the designation for the Clay Arsenal, Northeast and Upper Albany neighborhoods at a press conference Tuesday outside the old M. Swift & Sons factory, a long-standing target for revitalization that is again flush with attention.

Being a Promise Zone means that north Hartford would get “priority consideration” for federal funding, said Nani A. Coloretti, a deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It does not guarantee government money.

Instead, a federal liaison will be assigned to Hartford’s zone to help the city apply for existing grant programs, and five AmeriCorps VISTA anti-poverty workers will be on the ground to help oversee volunteers, officials said.

“I can’t overstate how important this designation will be to kids, families and business owners in the North End,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., part of a coalition that worked on the city’s proposal for nearly a year.

The urban renewal plan, developed by city agencies, community groups, businesses and advocates, focuses on lowering crime, creating jobs, offering more affordable housing and education, improving health and spurring economic development in the Hartford zone.

After securing $2 million to restore the building, supporters said they need an extra $12 million in tax credits, government grants and low-interest loans to finish the job.