Hart Lift: Hartford’s Retail/Restaurant Incentive Program

Due to the large amount of interest in the Hart Lift program, we are only accepting applications from property owners with a vacant storefront at this time.

Proposal accepted through mail or email to:
            Hart Lift c/o
            Hartford Chamber of Commerce
            ATTN: Julio Concepcion
            31 Pratt Street, 5th Floor
            Hartford, CT 06103

Project Summary and Submission Guidelines

The Hartford Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) is directing up to $6,000,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to COVID affected property owners throughout the City of Hartford through its newly created Hart Lift Program.  These property owners were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in their inability to secure tenants in their vacant storefronts which led to a reduction in revenues, increased costs and escalation of deserted business corridors.  These funds must be fully distributed by December 31, 2024.  The intent of this grant through the Hart Lift Program is to provide property owners with funds to help incentivize small businesses to lease their vacant spaces and provide a much-needed economic boost in our Downtown and Neighborhood Commercial Corridors.

The Chamber will be responsible for overseeing the program based on eligibility criteria, funding uses, process and deadlines as outlined below.  All funds must be fully distributed no later than December 31st, 2024.

  • Any property Owner that was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and
  • Is in good standing located in the City of Hartford
  • Has a vacant or unleased ground floor retails space
  • Has an occupied space with a signed lease longer than 3 years
  • Is not delinquent on real or personal property taxes, except to the extent that such delinquency is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

All properties will be eligible but special considerations will be given to the following

  • Properties located in major commercial corridors throughout Hartford neighborhoods
  • Properties located in Downtown Hartford
  • Restaurant spaces
  • Vacant properties adjacent to other vacant properties
  • Property owners who are leasing their spaces to MWBE’s
  • Grants provided can only be used for buildout costs of new or existing ground floor spaces in Hartford
  • Property owners with vacant storefront are eligible for a grant of $50 per square foot, up to $150,000
  • Any grant awarded to a property owner in the designated Downtown area (attachment A) must be matched at 100% by the owner of the property, the proprietor, or a combination of both parties
  • Any grant awarded to a property owner outside of the Downtown area must be matched at 50% by the owner of the property, the proprietor, or a combination of both parties
  • Property owners with multiple vacant storefronts can apply for a grant for each empty property
  • Applicants must be the owner or manager of a ground floor vacant or unleased property in Hartford
  • Applicants must show a Vacancy Loss Report to demonstrate COVID-19 related impact
  • Applicants must return an IRS W-9 Form
  • Applicants must show proof of matching funds to be eligible for the grant.
  • An applicant’s new tenant must sign a minimum 3-year lease on the property
  • An applicant must provide a budget for full buildout costs and a budget for the use of the grant

Hart Lift applications will open on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 for Downtown properties and January 1, 2022 for Neighborhood properties.  Both sets of applications will run through June 30, 2024.

Each applicant will receive confirmation of application receipt within 5 days of submission. 

The Chamber of Commerce staff will review all qualified applications on a monthly basis and will make a determination if the applicant has submitted all required documentation as spelled out in Sect. I and Sect. III. All applicants will be notified in 30-45 days on the status of their grant request. If all necessary documents are provided and the grant application is approved by the Chamber, the Hart Lift program will provide the City of Hartford’s Department of Development Services with all appropriate documentation of the grant request for disbursement of the grant. The city will then review the approved application prior to an award announcement. The City of Hartford reserves the right to deny a grant request if it feels it is not in the best interest of the city including ensuring fair disbursement of funds, the applicant is in good standing with the City and the prospective business conforms with city zoning, codes and the Plan of Conservation and Development.

  • November 2021: Collect inventory of vacant spaces throughout the City of Hartford
  • November 23, 2021: Applications for Downtown Hartford properties go live
  • January 1, 2022: Applications for Hartford Neighborhood properties go live
  • June 30, 2024: Applications for all vacant properties will expire
  • December 31, 2024: Hart Lift Program will expire
  1. Hart Lift Application Submission Documents

Each applicant is required to supply the following documentation

  • Pre-application submission which includes name and contact information
  • Brief description of the business that will lease space in property
  • COVID-19 loss report
  • IRS W-9 Form
  • Grant amount being requested
  • Proof of matching funds
    • 100% in Downtown, 50% in all other neighborhoods
  • Proof of new or extended signed lease
  • Budget for expected build out

Additional documentation maybe requested after submission of application. 

Ready to apply?

For more information, contact the Hartford Chamber of Commerce team.