NEW BRITAIN — While many young boys enjoyed playing sports, Avner Krohn loved going to see construction sites with his family.
“I always enjoyed the construction field. As a child, my mom took me to construction sites in New York. I just liked watching them and the creativity behind it and that they were building something,” the 33-year-old Lawrence, Long Island resident said in a recent interview.
Krohn, whose business Jasko Development, LLC is based on West Main Street, has been a developer for 12 years including nine in New Britain. While Krohn has multiple properties throughout Connecticut and New Jersey, his four prominent properties in the city cover more than 100,000-square-feet. Krohn said he has an emotional attachment to the city, which he visits often.
“Initially, my coming here was based on an economic decision,” Krohn said. “However, I began to feel embraced by the warm and vibrant community. I have worked to make the downtown more vibrant. The city is very pro-development. All three mayors I have worked with have been that way.”
Krohn said “New Britain has a tremendous amount of historic architecture, a vibrant arts community and highway accessibility. Those are the bones for successful economic development, not to mention CTFastrak.”
Krohn’s business owns 450 South Main St., also known as Jasko Shopping Plaza and anchored by Columbia Dental; 136 Main St., which is the Andrews Building and is predominantly used by attorneys and has a vacant restaurant attached; 160 Main St., which is mostly multi-family high-end residential; and 99 West Main St., where the lower floor is occupied retail and the upper floors will be converted in 2016 to residential.
While developers come and go, Krohn — who is one of five full-time Jasko employees — said to be successful you need the “ability to be agile, have a great talented staff and work hard. I put in a lot of long hours and manage many facets of the business from acquisition to construction, finance and occupancy.”
Many people might not know that Krohn loves music. He has played drums since he was nine years old.
“We still do weddings, concerts and parties,” he said. “We do about four a month. We have a full orchestra, with anywhere from 5 to 15 members including my two brothers.”
Krohn recently sat down to discuss the status of bringing anther restaurant to the Andrews Building, among other topics.
Robert Storace: Why should developers and investors feel comfortable about purchasing land and property in New Britain?
Avner Krohn: There is great value. There is a very large amount of dollars being spent on infrastructure here. Developers always want to invest in the city that is investing within itself.
Storace: The Andrews building on Main Street was the home in recent years to four restaurants. Why has that prime location seen such a high turnover and are they any plans to have another restaurant at the location?
Krohn: We’ve had major development changes within downtown since I purchased the building nine years ago. In regards to successes and failures, there were numerous reasons and none of which had to do with New Britain. It was either personal issues or lack of experience. We are diligently working with a number of individuals and hope to see a qualified restaurateur come to fruition in 2016.
Storace: What’s the most satisfying part of the job?
Krohn: It’s driving by a building that was derelict prior to our development and seeing people live and work in a beautifully restored location.
Storace: Where do you see development in New Britain 10 years down the road?
Krohn: I see a combination of restoration and ground up development, specific to the multi-family sector and student housing. There are many properties currently under-utilized. I believe, over a period of time, they will get re-purposed for the highest and best use.
Storace: What property that you own in central Connecticut are you most proud of and why?
Krohn: The property on 99 West Main St. When that project is done, we will have an award-winning mixed-used property that can act as a model throughout the state.
Storace: What’s the biggest impediment to business growth in the state today?
Krohn: Taxes, taxes and more taxes. Where there are high taxes, businesses flee the state which leads to families leaving the state. From a development standpoint, a declining population is rarely a good thing.