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Investor's Partnership Loses 23 Hartford Buildings To Foreclosure

Kenneth R. Gosselin

September 09, 2010

A major investor in downtown Hartford's troubled Bushnell on the Park condominium tower is involved in another partnership that has lost a portfolio of 23 apartment buildings elsewhere in the city to foreclosure, according to court documents and city records.

The Surrey Group partnership, which includes Bushnell on the Park investor Martin Carlin, lost the buildings encompassing more than 650 units to Wells Fargo Bank, which took control of them in late July. Surrey began missing payments early last year on $40 million in financing secured in 2007, according to court documents.

The majority of the apartments are in Asylum Hill and the West End. So far, city officials say, there haven't been any complaints by tenants worried about having to move out. Some of them have federally subsidized rents.

The court documents do not specify why Surrey Group missed the payments. But the Carlin partnership that owns 129 of the 180 condo units at Bushnell on the Park has filed for bankruptcy and is now under foreclosure, also by Wells Fargo. Carlin rents the condo units to others.

Even with the loss of the Surrey Group properties, Carlin remains a major apartment landlord in the city. Carlin had testified in a court case involving Bushnell on the Park that he controlled 3,000 apartment units in the city, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

Richard Weinstein, a West Hartford lawyer representing Carlin and Surrey Group, did not return telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said Surrey Group had kept the buildings in "decent" shape. Tenant complaints about repairs lodged with the city were addressed within a reasonable period, he said.

"Everything seemed to be decently kept up," Panagore said. "Not grade A, I'm not saying that, but decent."

The change could be a good thing for tenants if maintenance that has been put off is now tackled. Wells Fargo has hired White & Katzman, property managers in East Hartford, to oversee the properties.

But Marc Gottesdiener, a real estate appraiser and consultant in Hartford, said values of apartment buildings in the city could take a hit if the bank tries to sell off the properties as one portfolio. Selling them together could mean that the bank would be willing to sell at a discount, he said. "That could depress the market and hurt sales," said Gottesdiener, who is the cousin of downtown landlord Larry Gottesdiener.

Demand for apartments has been picking up, as people have been displaced from foreclosed homes. But Gottesdiener said the number of buyers for apartment portfolios is small, given the current economic uncertainty.

Steven M. Greenspan, an attorney at Day Pitney in Hartford that represented Wells Fargo in the foreclosure, said Wednesday he had no information on plans for the apartment buildings.

According to court documents, the Surrey Group foreclosure was contentious, with Wells Fargo alleging that the original purchase price was inflated when the original lender, Bank of America, financed the purchase.

The Foreclosed Properties::

  • 100 and 101 Benton St.
  • 503 New Britain Ave.
  • 166, 176 and 186 Collins St.
  • 65 and 73 Sumner St.
  • 99 Huntington St.
  • 1 and 7 Woodland St.
  • 9 Fales St.
  • 140 Hawthorn St.
  • 212 and 221 Laurel St.
  • 30 Evergreen Ave.
  • 30, 34, 36, 44, 48 and 50 Forest St.
  • 382, 384, 388 and 390 Farmington Ave.
  • 69 Gillett St.
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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