The manufacturing complex at 10 and 60 Love Lane in the north end of Hartford was the home of the M. Swift and Sons Company, founded in 1887. Swift was one of the nation’s most successful manufacturers of gold leaf by process of gold beating, becoming an international distributor of gold leaf and roll gold to business and individuals and the leading manufacturer of Hot Die Stamping Foils. The foundry is listed National Register of Historic Places. The industrial campus consisted of five interconnected buildings and two historic residences, one of which served as both Matthew Swift’s home and workplace when he first started the business. As was typical in those days in many Connecticut cities, factories became the hubs of many communities and the employees occupied homes in the surrounding streets and neighborhoods. When economic centers shutter, such as Swift did in 2008, the surrounding areas also tended to suffer the consequences of the inactivity. That is where a plan has taken shape to give new life and vitality to a struggling area of the city.
Located in Hartford’s Promise Zone, Community Solutions, the non-profit developers of the project, is working with local residents and community organizers to transform the complex back into the asset it once was to the neighborhood. Renovations to Swift will develop the former factory into a multi-purpose state-of-the-art facility that will provide high-quality jobs for residents of the surrounding low-income community. The space will include a commercial food manufacturing kitchen, a food business incubator, community space and non-profit office space. Groundbreaking took place on September 8, 2018. The primary tenant will be the manufacturing branch of Bears Smokehouse Barbeque, a locally-owned restaurant that also produces a line of spices and condiments sold in local grocery stores, wholesale and online. Bears is known for its commitment to hiring those who may face obstacles to reentering the workforce and expects to create 60 jobs for members of the surrounding district.
Another major occupant will be FreshBox Farms, a regional hydroponic operator that will provide a source of fresh produce for the community as well as the opportunity for the generation of additional healthy food businesses through mentorship and training networks for small businesses. Environmentally-sustainable practices such as ecological surface stormwater management, water conservation in common areas, improved thermal performance of all onsite windows, air sealing at all openings, high-efficiency HVAC and energy efficient light fixtures in common spaces will be incorporated into the redevelopment. The renovation is expected to be completed in 2019.