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Hartford Redevelopment Agency Votes To Take Capitol West Through Eminent Domain

By Jenna Carlesso

March 11, 2011

The city is one step closer to acquiring the blighted Capitol West building on Myrtle Street.

The Hartford Redevelopment Agency voted 4-1 Thursday in favor of taking the building through eminent domain. The dissenting vote was cast by Sean Arena, the agency's chairman.

"I don't really feel that in this economic climate, that this is a priority on our list," he said.

The property's owners have offered to sell the building for $2 million, Arena said, but the city isn't willing to pay more than $1 million.

"We're at a stalemate," he said. "They're not willing to negotiate lower."

Arena pointed out that the city has not yet been contacted by developers interested in the property.

"I don't believe people will be lining up in the foreseeable future," he said.

The cost to demolish the building would be about $2.4 million, Arena said. It's unclear what the overall price would be to acquire the property through eminent domain.

Coleman Levy, an attorney for the building's owners, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

The Hartford Financial Services Group has offered to contribute $2 million toward the purchase and demolition of the building. Capitol West, which has been vacant for more than a decade, sits on the eastern edge of The Hartford's campus.

Arena said, however, that the city should ask The Hartford to pay the entire cost of the project. He said he plans to contact officials at the company and make the request himself.

"They're a huge corporation with deep pockets," Arena said. "At this point, they should be stepping up to the plate and purchasing this entire property. That would keep it in private hands and keep it on our tax rolls."

David Snowden, a spokesman for The Hartford, said Friday that the matter "is between the city and building's owners," and declined further comment.

The proposal to take the building through eminent domain will now go before the city council for approval. The issue could come up for a vote within 90 days, officials said.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said he is "extremely encouraged that we're moving forward to get rid of this eyesore."

Asked if eminent domain is something the city could afford, Segarra replied: "I think our options are few and we need to look at the broader picture of how this helps us in our efforts to turn things around in our city."

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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