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Hartford To Auction Off Vacant Parcels

By STEVEN GOODE

May 25, 2010

HARTFORD "Going once, going twice sold."

Officials hope to hear that phrase repeatedly Thursday as it sells off about two dozen parcels of vacant, city-owned land at a public auction in the atrium of city hall.

Officials hope to hear that phrase repeatedly Thursday as it sells off about two dozen parcels of vacant, city-owned land at a public auction in the atrium of city hall.

The parcels range from a little over 1,000 square feet to almost 20,000 square feet, and valued from $5,000 to $90,000. If all sell at market value, the city could take in about $480,000, minus the auctioneer's 7 percent commission.

David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said Tuesday that selling the land has benefits beyond bringing more money to the city's accounts.

The city also saves money by not having to maintain the properties anymore and insures future revenue because the properties are returned to the tax roll.

For residents, it could mean that someone gets a bigger back yard, or an empty eyesore becomes a single-family house and improves the neighborhood with increased property value.

For developers it could be a chance to expand a business or build homes.

"We did this in Springfield," said Panagore, who was formerly that city's chief financial officer. "It's not a one-size-fits-all approach."

The city will have pre-auction registration tonight to show prospective buyers the lots and provide information about them.

However, several properties have already been taken off the auction list as local groups have expressed interest in purchasing them. For instance, Community Health Services has offered to buy two lots on Albany Avenue and another on Brook Street for $28,000 to construct a parking lot. Habitat for Humanity is offering $7,500 for a Garden Street lot to build a house.

A key aspect of the auction, Panagore said, is that the city has the last say on what what type of development occurs on the lots it sells.

"We have control over what happens," he said.

Thursday's auction will be the first the city has held in 10 to 15 years, Panagore said. He said he expects the city will consider selling more lots in the fall through requests for proposals from interested bidders.

He said a federal study in Richmond, Va., showed that reducing the number of abandoned or vacant lots and reasonably increasing housing density improved living conditions and the city's finances..

"All boats rose," he said. "We're following a practice that has been proven elsewhere."

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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