Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin speaking at a press conference at the former Swift Factory building on Monday. Jessica Bravo / CT Mirror

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin on Monday announced the city has received a $3.7 million federal grant for the renovation of the former Swift Factory.

The historic factory at 60 Love Lane was a well-known gold leaf factory and had been sitting vacant since 2005 until renovations began in 2020. A number of small businesses now occupy the building.

A branch of the Hartford Public Library will be one of the new tenants.

The renovation, including the federal grant, will cost around $34 million.

“The Swift Factory is now home to a number of rapidly growing businesses and will soon be home to the new Hartford Public Library branch,” Bronin said. “This new EDA grant will allow us to build on that momentum and double-down on the efforts to support local entrepreneurs and job-seekers in North Hartford.” 

The city plans to renovate the factory in an effort to create jobs, support small local businesses and attract engagement in the North End community. The project is expected to be completed within 18 months, with a target groundbreaking in the fall of 2022.

The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan, which is provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The American Rescue Plan makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to help communities plan, build, innovate and put people back to work through projects designed to meet local needs.

Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn said the library’s new branch will offer different classes and training programs that will be “life changing” for local residents. 

“We are incredibly grateful to our partners at Community Solutions as well as our congressional delegation for their support of our grant application, and we are eager to get to work on this project,” Quinn said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Hartford’s North End has faced “economic disregard and abandonment, resulting in deteriorating housing stock and dwindling job opportunities for residents.” 

Blumenthal said the federal grant will help residents become trained and skilled. 

The interior of the Swift Factory where there are plans of opening a branch of the Hartford Public Library and other small businesses. Jessica Bravo / CT Mirror

“There is gold in this building in what it represents to the community as an economic driver, a job growth and inspiration creator, and the kind of sites that it will provide for additional entrepreneurial genius,” Blumenthal said. 

John Thomas of Community Solutions, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth and adults, said the neighborhood has suffered many hardships like low household income and high unemployment rates. Thomas said Swift’s renovation will help the community.

“We see this as well-deserved social justice,” Thomas said. “This grant will allow Swift to expand into the dream phase of our vision here. We got the physical development done. We’ve been operating successfully for over a year.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the abandoned factory will be restored and ultimately help Hartford.

“Swift Factory could have become a post-industrial wasteland when it was abandoned, but thanks to federal funding, it is turning into a vibrant hub for nonprofits, schools, and minority- and women-owned businesses in the North End of Hartford,” Murphy said.

Courtenay Jackson, North Hartford Promise Zone Director, said he is excited for the Swift Factory’s renovation.

“It is exciting to see what started as just an idea — redeveloping a building that was once a pillar in the community — come to fruition and become a key community asset once again,” Jackson said. “It’s just as exciting to know that the North Hartford Promise Zone residents have been active participants on this journey, and we thank Community Solutions for their partnership.” 

The Swift Factory at 60 Love Lane in Hartford’s North End. Jessica Bravo / CT Mirror

Jessica is CT Mirror's Emma Bowen Foundation general assignment reporter for the 2022 / 2023 academic year. She is currently a senior at Central Connecticut State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She also works at her school’s newspaper, The Recorder, and peer mentored first-year undergraduates at Central. Jessica is a Connecticut native through and through.