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Not Worth A Party

Butt-Ugly Building Demolition of eyesore not cause for celebration

The Hartford Courant

July 10, 2010

The demolition of some large buildings in Hartford in recent decades have been festive occasions; people came out with food and drink to watch the implosions. Well, no party is warranted when the former H. B. Edwards building comes down.

The derelict structure adjacent to I-84 in downtown Hartford is known as the "Butt-Ugly Building," but it is not ugly. It is, or was, a sturdy, symmetric, beige-brick commercial building, a handsome background building that was once home to a thriving department and catalog store and later to offices. It had adjoining buildings that extended downtown Hartford to the north.

The building ultimately fell victim to what was perhaps Hartford's worst self-inflicted wound, the decision to run the highway through downtown. The H.B Davis building was isolated by the highway and the parking lots around it. It was abandoned and left to decay. Meddling in a proposed redevelopment of the property led to some of the criminal charges on which former Mayor Eddie Perez was recently convicted.

The city has been working for more than a year to acquire the building, one way or another. This week the redevelopment agency voted to buy it. With expected spproval from the city council, the plan is to purchase the building in August and demolish it in September.

This provides a real opportunity. The area north of the highway is an urban archeological site; a hodgepodge of empty lots and a few worn but handsome Victorian buildings. The new public safety complex is under construction, the first new construction there in decades. With that as an anchor, the city could acquire and clean enough land to encourage redevelopment with the look and feel of the area's Victorian past, using the platforms over the highway to reconnect the area to downtown. Then it would be time to celebrate.

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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