A longtime Hartford business owner says he’s considering picking up shop and moving elsewhere.
The Hartford Regional Market is known as a bustling business area, but several spaces within it have been empty for years.
The Regional Market is an expansive farmer’s market that was built in the 1950s.
It has been home to numerous food, drink and produce businesses like Bill Driscoll’s Capital Sausage and Provisions.
"I’ve been here with Capital Sausage since 1964,” Driscoll said.
The market is owned by the state and operated by the Department of Agriculture.
The space behind each garage door is considered a “stall” that is rented for $743 a month.
"It's dead in the middle of New York and Boston markets, so I mean, it's the goose that laid the golden egg for the state of Connecticut, but nobody wants to write a lease so business can expand,” Driscoll said, adding that he employs between 75 and 80 people, depending on the time of year.
Driscoll says there is vacant space that has been left empty at various times throughout years, and says the state is missing out on potential rent.
"The doors are broken; wild cats are going through there. Vagrant people or what I don't know what's going on,” Driscoll said.
He added that he has asked the Department of Agriculture to move into the empty areas, and they have said it would be okay.
However, it would only be a six-month lease at two-and-a-half times the current $743 rate per stall, and it requires three months’ down payment.
Driscoll says the deal on the table is not worth investing in and is looking to move. He wants a long-term lease and each stall for $743.
"I don't want to lay these people off. But the city of New Britain has been very nice to us looking for space,” Driscoll said.
The Department of Agriculture Chief of Staff George Krivda said the state must do what is in the best interest of the taxpayers.
Krivda said the department has been trying to come up with a long-term plan for the property.
"They should be helping us expand. It's just not happening. They should be helping to get more people working in the state,” Driscoll said.
Krivda said that other businesses have inquired about the space. But the viability and long term investment of the property is still in question.
It’s the Connecticut Marketing Authority that voted to have the two-and-a-half more rate for the short term leases.
That board has two agriculture department members including the department’s commissioner, two tenants and three other people from the public.
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