Search This Blog

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Capitol West photo from

Ask just about any Hartford resident how the demolition of the "Butt Ugly" building affected them as a Hartford resident, and most would answer it hasn't. The symbol of Hartford's corrupt former Mayor Eddie A. Perez's actions that sentenced him to prison, was quickly torn down by his successor. The result is even more symbolic of Hartford's past and future. Another vacant lot.

The area bordering the northern end of Downtown Hartford abutting I-84 sends a much clearer message than the Butt ugly building ever did. Hartford is unable to fill the large expanse of empty downtown acreage. There are a lot of reasons for this, the economy, crime, a City who has no clue what economic development means, business unfriendly tax structures and the list could go on and on.

One of those vacant lots showed a lot of promise a few years ago when WFSB Channel 3 announced plans to build a state of the art television facility and move their operations there from cramped headquarters at Constitution Plaza. That deal eventually fell apart and according to one high ranking official from Meredith Corp., the parent company of WFSB, he told me that "if it wasn't for the Mayor and his staff, we would still be in Hartford".

That was the night that Channel 3 had their reception and dinner showing off a beautiful new building a couple years ago when they left Hartford for Rocky Hill. That is a great facility that should be standing proudly on the corner of Main Street and Morgan Street in Hartford, filling one of those long vacant lots.

Today the Hartford Redevelopment Authority will be voting to branch out and create another vacant lot just west of Union Station. This vote will be an attempt to take the property known as Capitol West by emminent domain. This effort will most likely cost the taxpayers of Hartford upwards of $5 million dollars. The environmental cleanup alone has been estimated at $2.5 million from what sources have told me.

The sad part is that there is no plan for this property, other than to create another surface parking lot. I had thought that after the New London debacle, Kelo vs New London, the emminent domain laws had changed. That was a case where New London forced people out of their homes by grabbing the proerties through the emminent domain process. As it turned out after the property owners were forced out and the land cleared, the proposed project, an office park for Pfizer, never took place and the land sat empty.

I had thought Governor Rell had the emminent domain laws changed so that any taking of property by the government could only be done when an actual plan and project for the use of the land was in place, and I don't think creating a vacant lot counts as a project.

Similar to the "Butt Ugly" building, I doubt you could find anyone that can give you a solid reason as to how spending $5 million to create another vacant lot will affect their quality of life in Hartford. The Hartford Insurance has agreed to kick in to pay for the property, and I am not disputing that the Hartford has been a great Corporate neighbor to Hartford's neighborhoods. The Hartford though could afford the entire project and develop something on that property. The residents of the City of Hartford can not afford to fund this project at all.

It may be a feel good thing for the Mayor and City Hall to say they took away another eyesore, but it is not money well spent. That $5 million dollars could fund quite a few new police officers or at least prevent any from getting laid off at budget time. It could fund programs to revitalize our parks and re-hire some of the laid off workers from DPW. It could even fund the Adamowski bonuses for at least the next two years.

Creating a vacant lot at the taxpayers expense is nonsense. Maybe it would make more sense to leave the building there as a constant reminder that we need to do better to attract new business and celebrate when something useful actually goes there.The only plan that may possibly take place in that area is the eventual development of the high speed rail system from what I have been told

The Hartford Redevelopment Agency will meet tonight to hold a Public Hearing and Meeting in the Plaza Level Conference Room located at 260 Constitution Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut 06103. The meeting will be held at 6:00PM


Mr King said...

Empty building, homeless people. Isn't there any way to get a grant to create a place for people to live? Does anyone at City Hall look at this type of thing? Between the $5 million to knock the building down and the $2 million in bonuses it seems like they could do something to help the citizens out. Isn't that who they work for?

Anonymous said...

I see your point, but the building is at one of the entry points of the city and it is urban blight. Better to see nothing at all than to see that everyday.

Anonymous said...

By the way it looks like they are going to take Capitol West by eminent domain. Coming soon another empty lot with nothing in its place, like the H.B. Davis Building.

Anonymous said...

During this time of budget deficites and hiring freezes wouldn't it make more sense to continue to receive property tax payments from the building's owner than to than to loose that stream of revenue and not add Hartfords budget deficit? Sure it doesn't look nice nut neither does all the litter on our streets and in our neighborhoods! We need more folks gainfully employed in keeping our city clean as this is a quality of life issue and it has much to do with how out of towers who actually come into Hartford "view" our city.

peter brush said...

it is not money well spent...

peter brush said...

they could do something to help the citizens out. Isn't that who they work for?
They've done more than enough to help. Can they please stop helping, and return municipal government to its original narrow purposes?
Honestly, look at the guys we have "working" for us. Do they appear qualified to build you a house, let alone "redevelop" the town?

Blue Man II said...

I like this Blog, but sometimes it sure feels like alot of negativity, not so much from Kevin - but alot of the comments are just so negative. Has it ever occurred to us that we're the problem ? (maybe some of our posters should watch "the secret" by Rhonda Byrne) - I'm going to make an effort to be more positive and optimistic - Mr. Segarra's plan to attack urban blight may be expensive, but it's better than no plan at all. Keep it up Mr.Mayor, but try to get some rest, you're looking a bit tired.

Anonymous said...

So I guess The Hartford Insurance in reality wants even more parking for its employees, since no developer has any plans to build something there at the Capitol West site.

Look at what was done right up the street from them - The former Mass Mutual building on Garden Street was a much bigger building before The Hartford bought it and scaled it down and the former homes on nearby Fraser Place were also torn down for more parking lots.

Yes, it is an eyesore to the commuters, visitors and residents of the city and it should be removed, but at what expense to the taxpayers of Hartford?

$5 million dollars+ to take it by eminent domain and then tear it down is way too much. Enforce the ordinances already on the books, fine and sue the owners of the property, collect the money and use it to tear down the building.

Anonymous said...

Yo Kevin: You MUST ask Mr. Panagore when and how Hartford ceased to be in deep financial trouble (see his Cityline comments on Capitol West eminent domain blog entry).

Don't tell Rep. Kirkley-Bey you asked him - we've had enough fireworks this week.

peter brush said...

Do they appear qualified to build you a house, let alone "redevelop" the town?
Allow me to rephrase. My point is not that Sean Arena, et al, are particularly incompetent. It is that government agencies are not designed, nor well suited, to do more than half of the things the muni-govt. is doing. My criticism is applies to State and Fed agencies as well. Look at the State's involvement with Front Street (if you can bear it).
But the state’s original developer in the deal, Massachusetts-based Capital Properties, never got a serious shovel in the ground. In 2004, the state cut its ties with Capital Properties and its principal, Richard Cohen. And while the state looked for a new developer, Capital sued and the state sued back.

It’s a complex he-said, he-said. The state says Capital Properties breached its contract by leaving Front Street without building it, and Cohen says the state breached its contract by not lining up the funding it needed to move the project forward.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the mayor wants to do the right thing at the wrong time. It could be said it is foolish to take a piece of property off of the tax roll with the city claiming a deficit of 7 million this year and over 18 million next year. To invest in itself would be one thing if the city was in the black but it hasn't seen the black since God created the sun.

Also, since when do the powers that be at city hall have the right to ask thier employees for consessions and sacrifices when they are bonding broken down buildings which will be come vacant lots and a loss of tax renevue. Not very fiscically responsible.

Kevin: Speaking of not being fiscally responsible have you looked at the latest pension minutes on the city's web site.

It is a full out street mugging.

How does one individual who worked for the city for five years bought a small amount of time from when they worked for another city and leave with a pension of 37k, really. Wait till the end of the fiscial year when all of these "golden hand shakes" become effective, talk about a strain on the fund.

You should FIO all of the individuals who elected to take the retirement incentive, and find out how much time they were given and/or purchased and what their pension equates to in years of service some are leaving with a pension as if they worked here for 30 years but were actually here for 10 years.

The city shifts the burden onto the pension fund and then during contract talks blames the current employees who are actually paying into the fund.

And the city wants to buy old run down buildings, with no plan in place, great vision. NOT!