When a neighborhood really starts to turn itself around, a blighted building becomes a 400-pound gorilla. Progress abounds in Hartford's Frog Hollow - from lovely rehabs to the Pope Park entrance to dramatic improvements to the Park Street streetscape, making the abandoned four-story apartment building at 900-902 Broad St. exactly the kind of hairy ape no neighborhood needs.
Situated just south of Park Street next to the state juvenile court building, this brick apartment complex still has the stately lines and architectural details typical of the 1920s, when it was built. But its handsome blond brick façade and laurel and acanthus leaf relief can't disguise the fact that it's been badly neglected, or that two years' worth of taxes (about $6,300) are overdue.
The whole matter is made much worse by the fact that no one seems quite sure who owns the building. According to city records, Pacheco Properties LLC of New Britain holds the title, but there's no such entity listed in the phone directory. Records also list an Abraham Brener of Spring Valley, N.Y., who is, again, a no-show.
Meanwhile, the Hartford Preservation Alliance has classified 900-902 Broad as a "priority for mothballing" (the stop-gap measure cities take to secure unoccupied buildings by boarding up their windows to prevent further deterioration).
"Too many buildings like this one are just sitting there in limbo," says Preservation Alliance Executive Director Laura Knott-Twine.
"We talk a lot about losing valuable older buildings through natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, but here in Hartford, we have an unnatural disaster that amounts to demolition through neglect."
And so, as is typical of such once-vibrant city buildings, 900-902 Broad joins the ranks of innocents on death row waiting - perhaps in vain - for a pardon.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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