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Capitol West Owner Sues to Block Seizure Attempt

Gregory Seay

May 09, 2011

The owner of the vacant Capitol West downtown office building has filed suit to block the city of Hartford from seizing the property through eminent domain.

Meanwhile, the city signaled its willingness to settle the dispute.

Farmington attorney Coleman Levy, who represents the New York investor group that owns Capitol West, said Tuesday legal papers were served on the city.

Levy said a May 23 hearing is scheduled on the landlord's motion to bar the city from proceeding with steps to seize title to the seven-story, 170,000-square-foot brick tower adjacent to I-84 downtown so it can be torn down.

In the 13-page complaint against the Hartford Redevelopment Agency, the landlord continues to assert the city has no legal basis for taking its building. The owner says the building does not satisfy the "blight'' definition in its municipal ordinance that is one of the grounds on which the city can seize a property.

The suit also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

In a statement late Tuesday, Carl Nasto, with the city's Corporation Counsel's Office said, "We are confident of this proper process and success on the merits. There are appropriate legal thresholds and rights and we will move through the process. We are willing to engage in reasonable settlement discussions at any point."

The Hartford City Council voted 9-0 a week ago to authorize city staff to commence eminent domain proceedings in court against the building's landlord. That followed a 4-1 vote by the redevelopment agency recommending a taking.

Following the council vote, Levy said landlord 1 Myrtle Street Associates was weighing a possible court petition to stop it.

Talks between the city and the landlord had bogged down over the city's reported $1 million offer -- half the owner's asking price.

The property adjoins the Aslyum Hill headquarters campus for Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., which has pledged $2 million toward buying and demolishing the building.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Business Journal. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Business Journal Archives at http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/archives.php.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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