Hartford's monument to blight, the aptly nicknamed Butt Ugly Building, might be coming down. The emphasis is on "might."
Its owner, Robert A. Danial of Florida, has — finally! — filed papers with city hall signaling his intention to demolish the dump at the corner of Main and Trumbull.
But Mr. Danial bears watching: He's owned the building since 2000, and it's only gotten worse. Also, his company took so long on renovations at the old Bond Hotel that in 2005 the city ended a nice tax break it had granted. The hotel is now renovated.
Granted, Butt Ugly was no beauty when Mr. Danial bought it at auction, and it's had more troubles since.
But the building, once home to the H.B Davis department store, is mostly a victim of the disastrous decision to run I-84 through the center of Hartford. It was a perfectly fine, well-proportioned, beige-brick commercial building, part of a row of such buildings heading north on Main Street. But the highway isolated it, and irresponsible ownership allowed it to deteriorate. Ugliness was forced on it.
The city says it might expedite the demolition. By all means, speed it up (as long as proper attention is paid to asbestos abatement, of course). Not only is the building an oozing wound on the landscape, but it has landed the city in hot water.
A failed deal with a developer who wanted to put condos on the site has attracted the attention of the chief state's attorney's office, which is looking into allegations of political corruption in Hartford. The deal allegedly included a $100,000 fee to an ally of Mayor Eddie A. Perez. The fee was not paid and the mayor has denied any involvement.
Surrounded by nothing but parking lots, Butt Ugly stands as a landmark eyesore in a stretch of urban desert the city hopes to redevelop. Its falling debris has damaged cars.
But the building is not the city's worst eyesore. That dubious distinction belongs to Capitol West, a boarded-up office building once owned by Mr. Danial. It sits on a major exit, Asylum Street off I-84, to the state Capitol and downtown Hartford. The corpse of that building dispirits the thousands of commuters who pass it on their way to work every day.
Take them both down.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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