Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant  News Articles >

Razing A Building, Symbols And All

Helen Ubiñas

July 08, 2010

In case you're wondering, Mayor Pedro Segarra's decision to knock down the notorious Butt Ugly building, ASAP!, was all about economic development – not a political statement.


And the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue was just a country's way of getting rid of an ugly piece of art.

[Sample Our Free Breaking News Alert And 3 P.M. News Newsletters]

Look, whether anyone wants to admit it – and man, they do not – taking down that building is as much about putting the embarrassing Perez era behind us as it is about getting rid of an embarassing eyesore.

And hey, that's a good thing.

If you recall, the Butt Ugly Building played a huge part in the corruption trial and subsequent resignation of Eddie Perez. Perez was convicted last month of five felony charges, including telling a developer who wanted to buy the building that he needed to take care of ward boss Abe Giles, who allegedly demanded a $100,000 payoff.

That building came to symbolize everything that was wrong in Hartford, a city's complete inability to take care of things that needed taking care of – except for political cronies.

And even before it was a symbol of corruption, it was a shocking symbol of blight.

For years, the building that once housed the old H. B. Davis department store was one of Hartford's most visible monuments of neglect, a deteriorating obstacle to creating a bridge between downtown and the North End of the city.

Isolated by the highway and surrounded by parking lots, the beacon of blight was left to rot and further bring down the already hurting neighborhood around it.

Oh, plans were discussed, but they never went anywhere. And so the building sat, acquiring the apt nickname that Mayor Segarra refused to use at the press conference Wednesday.

It was time, Segarra said, to put both the name and the building behind the city.


And so now, another mayor and another plan.

Hartford's redevelopment agency board plans to meet today to discuss acquiring the property from Edwards Development LLC and Chapel Equities LLC.

If they can't come to an agreement, they'll take it through eminent domain.

This long overdue aggressive approach is good news for the city – if it's more than just talk. Now how about applying that same thinking to that other eyesore on Asylum – Capitol West? Those portraits are lovely, but they're not fooling anyone.

But first things first.

"The reasons to act now are plenty," Segarra said when a reporter pressed him on the timing of tearing down the Butt Ugly Building. "I can't think of a single reason to wait any longer."

Neither can I, Mayor Segarra.

Perez collects his last paycheck from the city this week.

Out with the old, in with the new – including a long overdue plan to put something on that property that welcomes people to Hartford, not tells them to keep driving.

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 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?