East Hartford plan would put 16 new homes on site of former school

East Hartford — The state on Friday authorized nearly $260,000 to help East Hartford demolish the former McCartin School so it can invite single-family housing development.

The aid is part of a more than $3 million set of grants the town will receive for several projects, including modernizing Veterans Terrace, making repairs at Rentschler Field, preserving 51 affordable apartments on Columbus Street, and renovating East Hartford Middle School’s auditorium and East Hartford High School’s lecture hall.


“These projects will have a wide-ranging impact on our community,” said state Rep. Henry Genga, who joined the rest of the town’s legislative delegation in thanking Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for the aid.

The 63-year-old McCartin building has been a long-standing issue for the town since it closed decades ago as a school. East Hartford has decided that after razing it, the town will seek developers interested in buying the 7-acre property as the site for 16 houses.


Building one-family homes will promote generational wealth and be a small part of East Hartford’s campaign to build its inventory of owner-occupied housing, Mayor Mike Walsh said. Apartments and other rentals currently make up about 40% of housing in town.

“The best way to build generational wealth is through home ownership,” Walsh said. “We’re looking at houses of about 1,500 to 1,800 square feet. That will be good for the town and good for the grand list.”

Finding a productive new use for the McCartin site is one of more than two dozen projects that Walsh’s administration targeted as priorities for the short- and mid-term future.

The property is in the heart of a residential neighborhood. It can be difficult to reach because it’s at the end of Canterbury Street, a dead end road that’s accessible from busy Maple Street or Forbes Street only by driving through other residential streets.

The plan is to demolish the one-story building and require any future buyer to extend Canterbury all the way across the McCartin property to connect with Woodycrest Drive. Houses would be built along both sides of the extension.

The town plans to use bond money for the demolition and clean up, and the state Bond Commission on Friday is expected to also authorize another $258,612 to help prepare the property.

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That money was left over from a $1 million state aid package in 2018 intended to clean up three blighted homes and a former fire station. Those projects finished under budget, and the state budget office intends to use the money for McCartin, which qualifies as a similar project. East Hartford will apply the money to environmental surveys as cleanup before demolition begins.

With the YMCA moving its day care to Main Street, the old McCartin building will be empty next year.


East Hartford established a few years ago that the former elementary school couldn’t easily be remodeled for other uses. McCartin had housed the town’s senior center until last year; a study showed that renovating a former church on Millbrook Drive would provide a better facility than trying to reconstruct McCartin.

“This is a square building that was built with very small classrooms. We came to the conclusion after architectural plans that this place was obsolete.

New housing and the extension of Canterbury Street will refresh the neighborhood and unload what could become a municipal white elephant, according to his administration.

If the council approves the plan and the YMCA can move out fully by the winter, the town would start demolition in early 2023. It will advertise the property and invite prospective buyers to submit development plans.

“What comes here will have to conform to the neighborhood,” Walsh said. “This will connect the neighborhood. This property is an island now. By making Canterbury a through street, it will join the neighborhood. And if we can add 16 more homeowners, that just further settles the neighborhood.”