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Emperor Dethroned

Emperor at the Linden partied a little too loud, a little too hard

By Adam Bulger

August 14, 2008

It appears that, like Don King before him, Emperor at the Linden owner Sean Eddy can't make the restaurant and lounge space work. Eddy, a real estate investor turned restaurateur, bought the commercial property in the downtown Hartford Linden building from the flamboyant boxing promoter in 2005, and opened under the Emperor name in November of '06.

Offering high-end food, valet parking and other amenities, the multi-leveled lounge and restaurant was an ambitious entry into downtown nightlife. For the last month, the Emperor has been closed, not because of over-extended ambition, but because of too much noise and not enough money. Eddy has repeatedly clashed with his Linden neighbors who say the club, which faces Main Street not far from the Wadsworth Atheneum, is too raucous, and judging from several court documents, his financial situation looks unstable.

According a June 25 Hartford Court judgment, the club has to close every night at 11 until the club is soundproofed and club-owner Sean Eddy takes other measures, such as hiring off-duty police officers to quiet down crowds congregating outside the club. Eddy said he voluntarily shuttered the Emperor instead of keeping it open under the court-mandated restrictions.

"Basically, we make most of our money after 11, so it's kind of forced us to close down," said Eddy.

The motion was filed by the Linden Condominium Association, a consortium of the owners of the 59 residential units of the Linden Court property against Eddy, who owns the building's 12 commercial units. The building, built in the 1890s, is a historic red brick Southern-style structure that takes up an entire city block. The residential units, including studios and townhouses, range in price from about $180,000 to over $350,000.

The injunction requires the club to keep the sound emanating from the club under 40 decibels, a noise threshold Eddy contends is unfair.

"Without us playing any music, it was like 41 [decibels]," Eddy said. "That's just background noise. We want to go back to the judge and explain that's just the sound of the city."

That jars with the complaints spelled out in court documents. Plaintiffs allege "excessively loud, pulsating music with a strong bass component" shook walls and picture frames in nearby units. In addition, the crowds spilling onto the street at closing time, the brief says, created a "circus-like atmosphere." Hartford police sergeant Francis Perrone testified that in one year, the Emperor was responsible for 70 noise complaints, a number that might be a city record, he said in his testimony.

However, court records and comments by the Linden Condominium Association indicate the injunction is just one problem among many for Eddy and the Emperor. Foreclosure hearings against Sean Eddy's company, Eddy Bell Commercial properties, are scheduled to begin in September. Aside from the Emperor and the coffee shop Cappuccino's, the commercial spaces in the Linden building are empty. Condominium Association attorney Michael Feldman said that the day after the injunction ruling, Connecticut Light & Power shut off the club's power.

"What ultimately caused them to be shut down is that they weren't paying their electric bill," Feldman said. "That came as a complete shock to us. We didn't know that was happening at all."

Eddy said the commercial space at the Linden had fallen into disrepair under the ownership of Don King. Eddy said he had sunk a small fortune into rehabilitating the space. Perhaps not coincidentally, in July, Eddy Bell Commercial properties filed a Chapter 11 motion in bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy court records list over $1 million in Eddy Bell Commercial properties debts owed to the company's mortgage holders, CL&P, the condominium association and others.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Advocate.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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