The Modern Era

Many look at the closing of Talcott School and Elmwood Elementary School in 1979 as the passing of an era. This is a fair statement. Generationally, many of the residents who had moved here in the 1950’s had moved on. Factories that had been booming in the 1950’s were being closed. The move to the suburbs of the Farmington Valley was in full swing.

And the area began to look tired. Coleco took over the old middle school, and when they failed, Ames Department Stores moved their corporate headquarters into that building. They too failed. The Elm Theater, an icon, was split into two theaters and gradually lost market share to the multiplexes. The older strip malls had not been renovated since their inception. Also in the 90’s, the crime rate was beginning to increase, both in Elmwood and in the Park Road area.

In the mid-1990’s, Shaw’s Supermarkets proposed razing the former Talcott School in order to create a “Super Shaws” in the heart of the Elmwood neighborhood. The proposal was soundly trounced and out of this came a series of charettes, sponsored by the town and held in the basement of the Faxon Branch Library. A long-term plan was devised to improve the neighborhood. Teeth were added to the plan by the creation of a “traditional Neighborhood Design”  district by the Town Council.

Ultimately, what is seen today in Elmwood (2014) did not happen overnight. Each property and improvement served as another brick in the wall to create a new and vibrant neighborhood. The town scrutinized every zoning application and worked to improve each property when the opportunity arose. The streetscape was developed to be consistent with the rest of the town. Police coverage, fire and schools are also consistent with the rest of the town. The old perception of Elmwood being the less affluent part of town is passing into history.

 

Here is a list of some of those bricks:

  • Kearns and Kearns facade at the Center intersection (1980’s)

  • Elm Theater closes and Walgreen’s takes over the space. The plaza is renovated

  • The Corner Pub is re-born as The Corner Pug. That block is improved,

  • Friendly’s Restaurant closes and the space is renovated into the new Gem Jewelry. Parking lots are connected behind these buildings and un-necessary driveways are removed.

  • Several ideas for development of the Talcott School property never get to the building stage. Ultimately, Ginsberg Development builds the Quaker Green Condominiums. Also, the Burgoyne Elms green is rehabilitated by Ginsberg Development and elm trees are planted for the first time in over 60 years.

  • The D’Occhio building (1131) facade is renovated in a striking black with silver accents.

  • Elmwood Plaza (Epstein’s) is renovated

  • Elements Bistro, now Beachland Tavern, creates a new purpose for Elmwood Plaza

  • Pepe’s Pizza of New Haven moves in

  • Renovations and upgrades in many buildings

  • CITGO Station is totally re-habbed

  • Streetscape at Hillcrest and Hollywood Avenue was improved and matches the rest of Town

  • Streetscape at I-84 exit 41 was landscaped and improved

  • Szechuan Tokyo (former Brock’s) was razed and a new building erected

  • New Britain Avenue (a state road) was re-constructed and landscaped. Over 100 new trees were planted.

Each of these little bricks changed the streetscape of Elmwood helping to create an appearance that was consistent with the rest of the town.

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