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Butt Ugly Building First To Go, Capitol West Possibly Next

Officials in Hartford Explore Eminent Domain to Take Down Capitol West

By Andrew Huston

March 28, 2011

In Hartford, business and civic leaders held a press conference today urging the city council to take the eyesore known as the Capitol West building through eminent domain. WNPR's Andrew Huston reports.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has made it one of his goals to get rid of vacant buildings he considers ugly. Months ago, the infamous butt-ugly building came down. Now he's expressing his disdain for capitol west.

"I don't know of anyone that could potentially or possibly be for this building being here. It has no architectural significance and it's just one big ugly building that needs to put out of it's misery."

Patricia O'Mara has been a resident of the Asylyum Hill neighborhood for over 30 years. Like many in the community, she worries about the impression the vacant building gives to those passing by.

"And this building has been such an embarrassment every time I get off the exit to go home. I'm so happy for the mayor doing this....so this is great."

Over the past year the city has been in negotiations with the owners of the Capitol West property to purchase and demolish it, with the aim to redevelop the land. The Hartford, an insurance agency that has its main campus in Asylum Hill , has pledged 2 million dollars to this initiative. But when disagreement over the price of the building halted negotiations for several months, officials from the city's redevelopment authority voted in favor of acquiring the building through eminent domain. Coleman Levy is a lawyer representing the owners, and he disagrees with the city's assessment of the Capitol West Building.

"First of all we don't think it's a blighted building, and secondly there are various processes that are involved, that will take place. At the end of the day, we could end up in court. And if so, the judge will make the final decision."

Levy also said it's possible the city doesn't have what it needs to pursue an eminent domain case. Mayor Pedro Segarra has asked city council, which ultimately makes this decision, to hasten the process. The council is set to discuss the matter at a public hearing on April 18. For WNPR, I'm Andrew Huston.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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