Image courtesy of Dave Zajac l Record-Journal
I was a little surprised to find out the Meriden Housing Authority was purchasing two downtown buildings. I was even more surprised to find out they had no intentions to convert them to housing.
But that isn’t what surprised me most.
The fact that some city officials did not expect these purchases or were surprised is what truly surprised me.
The city and MHA have had a pretty good working relationship over the last few years. They communicate, they seem to be working together and they won a $500,000 grant because they are working together so well and have strong plans for downtown.
Their coordinated efforts are also supposed to result in a mixed-use development on Colony Street. It would be one of the first real developments in downtown in 40+ years. That’s saying something about the downtown.
You can clear read the frustration coming from the city manager. The city has plans for downtown and each building has some type of role. At least, in their eyes. Then the MHA, which has close communication (usually) goes and buys some buildings.
The MHA officials say they only plan to fix up the buildings, but some would argue the MHA has no business buying up buildings unless there are housing plans attached. And some would argue even further that the MHA shouldn’t be buying property, period.
I’m not sure what this means going forward. The last thing you want is a fracture as the city and MHA apply for millions of dollars, which could really change the downtown. You don’t want the appearance of a fracture either, but, for now, that’s what you have.