Long regarded as an eyesore, the deteriorating H.B. Davis Building — infamously known as the "Butt Ugly Building" — could soon disappear if the city's redevelopment agency decides today to purchase the property.
The agency wants to acquire the five-story structure at 1161 Main St. and tear it down, said David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer. The agency's board is scheduled to meet today and possibly vote to buy the property from Edwards Development LLC and Chapel Equities LLC. Edwards owns the building, while Chapel Equities owns the parking lot behind it.
The property is widely known for its role in the corruption case against former Mayor Eddie A. Perez. Perez was convicted of extortion and coercion charges in connection with holding up a city project to help former state Rep. Abraham Giles get a $100,000 payment from developer Joseph Citino to vacate a parking lot Giles was running. The payment was never made and the development — which would have replaced the decrepit "Butt Ugly Building" with a commercial and residential project — was never completed.
Demolition of the building, with its crumbling façade, shattered windows and overgrown grounds, would be part of a larger redevelopment plan for the city's downtown, Panagore said. But there are no specific plans for how the property would be used if acquired by the city.
"We would develop the land over time," Panagore said.
Officials have been concerned about the image portrayed by abandoned buildings at key entrances to the city. Besides the H.B. Davis Building, other sites for redevelopment include the long-vacant Capitol West building on Asylum Street and the downtown Clarion Hotel.
The estimated cost of the Main Street property is $625,000, Panagore said. If purchased, the city would knock down the structure, which could cost between $300,000 and $500,000, he said. City bond money would pay for both the acquisition and demolition.
Once the redevelopment agency approves the purchase, a series of resolutions related to the sale and demolition of the building will go before the city council, which must sign off on them for the project to move forward. If the purchase is approved today, the resolutions could go before the council as soon as Monday.
Speaking to reporters outside the building Wednesday, Mayor Pedro Segarra said the city is "close to reaching an agreement" on acquiring the property. He said the demolition has been a top priority for him since taking office late last month.
"We have to put more emphasis on continuing to pursue our economic agendas," he said. "This is part of many other things that need to happen."
Negotiations for the property began under Perez, but no agreement was reached, Segarra said. He didn't portray the tentative deal as an effort to make a fresh start after Perez's conviction on five felony charges.
The city is hoping to close on the property in August and begin demolition in early September. The work will likely take 60 days or more, Panagore said.
If the redevelopment agency decides against buying the parcel, Panagore said, the city would move to condemn the building or acquire it by eminent domain.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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