Hartford Mayor, Business Leaders Urge Demolition Of Capitol West
Segarra: "One Big, Ugly-Looking Building That Needs To Be Put Out Of Its Misery"
By JENNA CARLESSO
March 28, 2011
HARTFORD —— Mayor Pedro Segarra, joined by business leaders and neighborhood groups, urged the city council Monday to approve a plan to take the blighted Capitol West building on Myrtle Street by eminent domain and demolish it.
Segarra said the former office building, vacant for more than a decade, is "one big, ugly-looking building that needs to be put out of its misery."
He was joined by representatives from MetroHartford Alliance, the Hartford Downtown Business Improvement District, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association and the Greater Hartford Transit District in urging the city council to move forward with condemnation proceedings.
"It's going to benefit our business community. It's going to benefit our downtown. It's going to benefit the Asylum Hill Community," Segarra said, "but more importantly, it's going to help us create a new and better image of the city as the capital city."
Mike Zaleski, head of the business improvement district, called the building "a public safety hazard" that "needs to be addressed."
"There is no question that it's an unkempt mess," he said. "This property drags down the rest of the neighborhood. It's time for the city to step in and redevelop this property."
The council received a recommendation Monday night from the city's redevelopment agency to start eminent domain proceedings against the building's owners. It will probably vote on the issue later this spring.
Moves to condemn the building arose from a stalemate between the city and the property's owners, who have been negotiating a possible sale. The owners have offered to sell the building for $2 million, redevelopment agency officials have said, but the city isn't willing to pay more than $1 million.
Simply demolishing the building is expected to cost about $2.4 million, officials said.
But Oz Griebel, chief operating officer of MetroHartford Alliance, said that it could be more costly for the city to do nothing.
"Some people ask, 'Well, what about the cost of taking the building down?' " he said Monday. "The real issue is about the cost of not taking it down and opening it up to redevelopment."
The Hartford Financial Services Group, whose Asylum Hill campus is across the street from Capitol West, has offered to contribute $2 million toward the purchase and demolition of the building.
City officials have been negotiating with Joshua Guttman, the owner of Capitol West, since August 2010. Guttman paid $1 million in cash for the building in 2004 and planned to convert it to apartments or condominiums. The city has put the building's current value at $448,000.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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