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Long-Empty Clarion Hotel In Downtown Hartford Sells

By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN

January 31, 2011

The long-vacant hotel on Constitution Plaza a decaying eyesore for those entering the city on the Founders Bridge has been sold to a New York-based developer who plans to convert it into apartments.

The former Clarion Hotel, formerly known as the Sonesta and the Summit, was sold to Wonder Works Construction and Development on Friday, city officials said Monday.

The 12-story hotel has been vacant for at least 15 years. Built in 1964, the hotel has been owned by the Maharishi Global Development Fund since 1995.

Joseph Klaynberg, who heads Wonder Works, did not return a call Monday seeking comment. The purchase price or how much the developer intends to invest wasn't immediately known.

Wonder Works has pursued other renovation projects in New York City.

David B. Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said the former hotel guest rooms will be converted into mostly one-bedroom apartments, which have filled up the quickest in new apartment buildings that have opened downtown in recent years.

The opening of a full-service grocery store, expected this spring on Asylum Street, will be a key amenity in attracting tenants to the apartments, Panagore said.

Over the years, several attempts to sell the property have collapsed over the asking price, which has ranged from $5 million to $17 million. Maharishi paid $1.5 million for the property.

Originally opened as the Hotel America, the building later was a Sonesta, then a Summit and finally a Clarion.

The Clarion is one of three properties in the city considered eyesores at crucial gateways. Since Mayor Pedro E. Segarra took office, one the so-called "Butt-Ugly" building on Main Street has been demolished. Another, the Capitol West building near the Asylum Street Exit off I-84, may be taken by the city by eminent domain.

Wonder Works appears to be pursuing a strategy of buying and renovating a rundown property to have it ready when the economy recovers and demand picks up, Panagore said.

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