Capitol West: The insurer gives its namesake city $2 million to buy and raze notorious eyesore
The Hartford Courant
November 17, 2010
There was an element of sadness when the former H.B. Davis building on Main Street in Hartford was demolished in the past week because it had once been an attractive commercial building. The same cannot be said for the long-vacant building on Myrtle Street called Capitol West, adjacent to I-84 on the western edge of downtown.
This former car dealership and office building was never much to look at, and it has gotten worse. It's now the city's leading eyesore, one seen by thousands of commuters daily, and it cannot come down soon enough. That wish got a big boost Tuesday when The Hartford Financial Services Group committed $2 million to buy, tear down and redevelop the property.
The Capitol West funding is part of a five-year, $7 million grant by The Hartford to a variety of education and community support programs in the Asylum Hill neighborhood, where the insurer has been headquartered for nearly a century.
The removal of Capitol West will be the most visible of these efforts. Removing it will open a view to historic buildings on the crest of Asylum Hill, a major improvement. If the Hub of Hartford plan to lower I-84 moves ahead, as we believe it should, that part of Asylum Hill could regain the elegance and downtown connection it had a century ago.
The city has been negotiating with the owner, Joshua Guttman, but no agreement has been reached. Indeed, a memo of understanding between the parties to work out a sale ran out on Monday, but city officials said talks continue. Mr. Guttman paid $1 million in cash for the building in 2004.
Hopefully a sale can be negotiated for fair market value, so that the city doesn't have to use another means to acquire the building. Removal of that building would be an addition by subtraction to the look of the city.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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