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Hartford Condo Owner Facing Foreclosure Action

JEFFREY B. COHEN

August 21, 2009

HARTFORD - The owner of more than two-thirds of the condominium units at Bushnell on the Park stopped paying its $75,000 monthly mortgage payments in November and is now in foreclosure proceedings.

Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota filed in April for a foreclosure on the original $12.8 million loan to Bushnell Regency LLC, which owns 129 of the building's 180 units, and rents them out.

The bank said at the time that it was due $11.8 million before interest, late fees and other charges, according to paperwork filed in Superior Court in Hartford. In subsequent court papers, the bank says it's now owed a total of $14.5 million.

Bushnell Regency bought the units in question in 2002 for $15.6 million, city records show.

The city, the state and private developers have invested huge sums of money downtown to attract residents, hoping to get the neighborhood buzzing with round-the-clock life. But Bushnell on the Park was built in 1969, well before newer apartment complexes like Hartford 21, Trumbull on the Park and the Lofts at Main and Temple.

Still, the building seems to be doing well as far as renting its units, according to resident Arthur Anderson who is in the apartment business at Imagineers LLC.

"My hunch is they've had a hard time refinancing this note in this atmosphere," Anderson said. "It's more of a commentary on the financial times than it is on the efficacy of the building."

Efforts to reach various attorneys and parties involved in the case were unsuccessful, so it's unclear just what precipitated the mortgage problem. City records show that Bushnell Regency also owns dozens of units that are behind on their 2007 taxes, and the city confirmed Thursday that the company has filed an appeal of its recent taxes.

Several major downtown rental property owners say that they are not having occupancy problems, and that the Bushnell's foreclosure is probably less of a commentary on the health of the downtown residential market than the result of a tough loan in tough times.

"We track their occupancy and I think their occupancy is high, but it sold several years ago at the high-water mark," said Marty Kenny, who built Trumbull on the Park. "I don't think it's an occupancy issue. It might be how much debt is on it, and the expenses over there have always been problematic."

"It got purchased and financed at a euphoric moment, and now a reality is setting in," said Phil Schonberger, a Hartford developer. "A lot of loans of that era were underwritten based on projections about the future, and you sort of grew into the loan as the economy improved, or became more euphoric. But that didn't always happen."

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.
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