Developer Avner Krohn breathes new life into downtown New Britain


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Developer Avner Krohn’s relationship with New Britain began about 15 years ago when he first saw the Andrews Building at 136 Main Street.

“The building had been gutted probably less than 20 years ago, but it just wasn’t well managed,” Krohn said.

Today, the Andrews building is a mix of shops on the lower floors and luxury apartments above after Krohn’s company, Jasko Development, renovated it. Other buildings in downtown New Britain that Jasko resurrected include the Rao and Raphael buildings, each now a mix of retail and housing.

As Krohn, 40, embarks on his biggest project in New Britain – a $ 14 million luxury apartment building, 107 units on Main and Bank streets dubbed The Brit – he says his work in the Hardware City is far from over.

“I think New Britain can handle several hundred market-priced apartments downtown if you build with the right mixed use, with shops on the ground floor,” Krohn said. “I think smaller projects will come into play on the side streets once you have the necessary vibrancy downtown. “

the british

The Brit, Krohn’s fifth project in downtown New Britain, will have this mix of retail on the ground floor, including a restaurant, and apartments above. He plans to attract young professionals who can travel to Hartford from the CTfastrak bus station one block away.

“New Britain is fortunate and fortunate to have access points to downtown – highways 72 and 9 and proximity to I-84,” he said.

Krohn, who has worked in development for about 17 years, said his philosophy with a project like The Brit is to create a lifestyle for its tenants.

“You are building a community. You create an interaction between the tenants, ”he said. “People aren’t just looking to come home from work and hang their heads for the night. They can work from home a few days a week. This is why we are going to have an outdoor space that will be fitted out and equipped with grills. We will have a pet spa.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who has described Krohn as an involved partner of the city, said she had high hopes in The Brit’s ability to attract young professionals.

“Attracting more young professionals to New Britain would have a positive impact on our local economy, increase participation in community organizations and cultural events, and enhance New Britain’s reputation as a prosperous city with a bright future,” Stewart said. “We believe that the young professionals who move here will fall in love with their new city and make long-term commitments themselves. “

Actively engaged

Krohn said Jasko’s philosophy is to tailor each project to the setting. For example, he and Brian Zelman of Zelman Real Estate have partnered up on The Residences at Wash Brook in Bloomfield, which will not have a retail business.

Instead, the 111-apartment project in a four-story building of just under 135,000 square feet will focus on nature, occupying five acres on a 17-acre parcel, with the remainder placed in an easement of conservation.

“The overall goal is to tailor a development to the specific area where it is located,” Krohn said. “From a design standpoint, from an architectural standpoint, from an engineering standpoint, we look at the neighborhood, the setting and make sure it fits. Each setting in which we build has its own atmosphere, its own look, its own creative aspect.

Krohn sees New Britain as a partner in his project and said he is working closely with Mayor Stewart and his staff.

“We take it as a blank canvas and say, ‘How do we create the new New Britain? I think, “How can I make this city a better place?” Mayor Stewart and city officials understand this is a long-term vision. As a developer, you want to rely on the fact that you have a mayor and officials who understand your vision. “

Stewart said Krohn’s work on the Rao, Andrews and Raphael buildings represents the first major downtown investments by a private developer in decades.

“Many developers renovate or expand a property and then move on, but Avner has been actively engaged in the city of New Britain for over a decade,” she said.

Tax relief

The city has given Jasko tax breaks and other incentives.

“Most of the cities in the state – certainly Hartford County – are trying hard to provide incentives for developers,” Krohn said. “A lot of these projects wouldn’t make economic sense if you didn’t [payment in lieu of taxes] program, or a fixed tax structure, or abatement.

Stewart said the tax incentives help the developer and, in turn, the tenants through lower rents. Ultimately, the tax deals help grow the big list over time while improving the neighborhood, she added.

Krohn said Jasko’s advantage is his ability to take on and complete many projects.

“We have our own construction team and in-house construction management, so all of our projects – the year or two years of pre-construction – are done in-house by our team,” he said. “It makes a big difference to the quality and understanding of the maneuver. “

He also said that this model helps with project finance because his company has a track record of successful projects.

Krohn said Jasko uses a mix of funding, including investors, for its multi-million dollar developments.

“But once we get to a certain point on a project, we go down the traditional lending route. We have great relationships with lenders, ”he said.

Dream career

It seems Krohn was always meant to be an entrepreneur. As a child who grew up in Rockland County, NY, he started mowing lawns at age 10 and turned it into a landscaping business which he sold at age 17.

He then spent four years in Israel studying and playing the drums professionally, returning home each summer to study finance and real estate. He said his parents supported him in pursuing his dream of a career in development and real estate.

Today, Krohn is a married father living on Long Island, occasionally spending the night in Connecticut on business.

Jasko is currently involved in other projects including a 360-unit apartment project at the former Showcase Theaters in East Hartford, a commercial project at West Hartford Center, a 200,000-foot retail project. squares in North Carolina and medical buildings in Massachusetts.

Despite his busy schedule, Krohn said his job is more than a job.

“There is never a dull moment or hour. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, that always changes, ”he said. “It’s the creative aspect of looking at something that can be devastated or devastated and then bringing it and the area around it back to life. And when I walk past a finished project at night and see the lights on, nothing is more rewarding.

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