GREEN STREET ARTS

Mid­dle­town awards Green Street build­ing to St. Vin­cent de Paul, which hopes to ex­pand ser­vices

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By Kath­leen McWil­liams

Mid­dle­town soup kitchen to take over for­mer arts cen­ter.

MID­DLE­TOWN – St. Vin­cent de Paul, a Mid­dle­town soup kitchen, has been se­lected to take over the Green Street Arts Cen­ter build­ing.

“They do a tremen­dous amount of work for the city,” Mayor Dan Drew said. “They’re known for pro­vid­ing food to needy peo­ple, but they have a sig­nif­i­cant breadth of ser­vices be­yond that.”

Fol­low­ing a month­s­long bid process, Drew an­nounced last week that he had se­lected the non­profit to move into the for­mer neigh­bor­hood arts and af­ter school cen­ter.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing a soup kitchen, St. Vin­cent de Paul runs the Amaz­ing Grace food pantry and sup­port­ive hous­ing units. It also pro­vides drug and al­co­hol abuse coun­sel­ing and as­sists peo­ple with ac­cess­ing be­hav­ioral health­care and so­cial ser­vices. Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ethel Hig­gins said that the or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to move its soup kitchen and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices to the Green Street prop­erty.

The build­ing at 51 Green St. is owned by the city and, un­til June 30, was leased by Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity. The uni­ver­sity said the cen­ter was sup­posed to have be­come self-suf­fi­cient when it opened in 2005, but Wes­leyan was pro­vid­ing more and more di­rect fund­ing each year and elected not to con­tinue.

“It’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion that I think needs room to grow. This is a unique op­por­tu­nity, be­cause it gives more space,” Drew said.

Bids to re-use the prop­erty were due in Oc­to­ber and four pro­pos­als were sent to the city, in­clud­ing one from St. Vin­cent de Paul. The eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­mis­sion vet­ted the pro­pos­als, which also in­cluded one from the Com­mu­nity Health Cen­ter and one for the Mid­dle­town Green Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. The com­mon coun­cil will need to rat­ify the agree­ment be­tween the city and St. Vin­cent de Paul in Fe­bru­ary be­fore own­er­ship of the build­ing is of­fi­cially trans­ferred.

Hig­gins said that mov­ing the lo­ca­tion from Main Street to the build­ing on Green Street will give them the abil­ity to ex­pand ser­vices. Hig­gins said the larger space would al­low the or­ga­ni­za­tion to col­lab­o­rate more with com­mu­nity mem­bers, im­ple­ment more work­force de­vel­op­ment pro­grams and pro­vide more health­care to the home­less. She also said that re­vamp­ing the fa­cil­i­ties with the lat­est tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment would cre­ate a more wel­com­ing and pri­vate en­vi­ron­ment for pa­trons.

“We’d like to go ahead and take it to the next step,” Hig­gins said. “This move would give us an op­por­tu­nity to im­ple­ment these changes.”

Hig­gins said the or­ga­ni­za­tion was happy to learn they’d been se­lected to re-use the build­ing but ac­knowl­edged that the or­ga­ni­za­tion is still wait­ing on the agree­ment to be fi­nal­ized.

“We were very happy and very hum­bled,” she said. “We’ve been in this lo­ca­tion here for over 30 years and we’ve out­grown it. The fact that the city iden­ti­fies the work that we do and that we’ll be able to ex­pand ser­vices is great.”

In ad­di­tion to al­low­ing St. Vin­cent de Paul to grow, the de­ci­sion to award the bid to the non­profit adds a build­ing to Mid­dle­town’s tax rolls.

St. Vin­cent de Paul’s Main Street build­ing was not tax­able be­cause it be­longed to a non­profit. With the or­ga­ni­za­tion mov­ing to a city build­ing, which also was tax ex­empt, Mid­dle­town is gain­ing a prop­erty to add to the grand list.

In a let­ter to res­i­dents an­nounc­ing the news, Drew said the build­ing will be sold to a “tax­able en­tity whose prod­ucts or ser­vices are in align­ment with the city’s goals and plan of con­ser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment.”

HART­FORD COURANT FILE PHOTO

Mid­dle­town of­fi­cials se­lected St. Vin­cent de Paul to move into the Green Street Arts Cen­ter build­ing.

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