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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

CT home-sales boom may not boost Hartford rental market 

Overseers of the quasi-public Capital Region Development Authority have watched with interest this year as demand for single-family homes has soared, sparking bidding wars and higher sale prices.

Some of the relative boom is due to buyers from other states, such as New York, showing new interest in Connecticut during an unprecedented pandemic. 

Some CRDA board members, including Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, are hoping the agency can reap some of the benefits of the relative housing boom for the portfolio of apartment buildings it has financed.

During CRDA’s recent monthly board meeting, Bronin said he has talked to a number of young adults in recent months who have left places like New York City and moved back in with their parents during the pandemic.

Some of them may end up sticking around, and Bronin asked whether CRDA might position itself to capture some of their future housing needs, once their parents get sick of them living at home or vice versa.

“I think it may be a relatively sizable group,” Bronin said. “Is there a way we can better market to that market?”

CRDA Executive Director Michael Freimuth would certainly like to see Hartford’s housing market get stronger, but suspects the single-family housing market boom the state has experienced this year may not do much for the multifamily market on which CRDA is focused.

“It may not translate to the product we are putting on the street,” Freimuth said. 

He also doubts that Hartford will see a big influx of new residents leaving much larger urban centers in surrounding states because of COVID-19. 

“I don’t think Hartford will be hurt long term, but I don’t see the big flood coming in either,” Freimuth said. “The cities will be around for a while, I think.”

However, with an unprecedented modern pandemic, he readily admits that the future is impossible to predict.

“For the most part, people are frozen in place right now,” he said. “I don’t know what the consequences are going to be when we come around to the new normal, but we’ll see.”

A number of CRDA-backed apartment projects have come online since March, including 50 Morgan St. (the former Radisson Hotel), 101-111 Pearl St. (Spectra Pearl), the Colt Gateway North Armory, the Hartford Carriage House, and Hartford Lofts. Those projects combined have 475 units.
 

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