Is history about to repeat itself in Hartford. Is it time for another grand Jury to look at Hartford's development deals being cooked up at City Hall. The answer might quite possibly be yes.
While the appeal is still in the works for former Mayor Eddie Perez's conviction on corruption charges, another land deal is starting to raise some eyebrow's . We may just be looking at our next "Butt Ugly Building" in the making.
On July 25, 2012 I posted about the difficulties of the Hartford Police Credit Union to close on a property that they wanted to purchase for the new home of the Hartford Police Federal Credit Union. You can read that post here.
It didn't seem to make sense that the City would place obstacles in the way of the land purchase, considering that the Police Credit Union would be purchasing essentially an abandoned property, investing several hundred thousand dollars in its rehab and returning a non producing asset to the City' tax rolls.
But eventually the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place as people came forward with information. It seems that Hartford's COO David Panagore had come up with a plan to physically move the Credit Union building to a property at 1391 Main Street. According to sources, Panagore had told them that there was "federal" money available for the move. That has since proven not to be the case and there is no money to move the building unless funded by Hartford's Taxpayer's.
Now the million dollar question, actually make that the half a million dollar question, $500,000 to be exact. Why the need to move the property? Well that becomes somewhat clearer as you dig down deeper to find out who all the players in the deal are. It may be a coincidence, but since I have begun digging into this and obtaining documents, at least two of the key players are no longer City of Hartford employees, David Panagore has submitted his resignation and Roger O'Brien was officially terminated today after a 7 day suspension.
After tracking down the ownership, it still is not clear who the actual owner is, but t appears that it is a Texas Corporation represented by Hartford Attorney, political operative and former Councilman John Kennelly. TLC Properties INC is listed by Dun and Bradstreet as both a Louisiana Corporation formed in August of 1996 and a Texas Corporation also formed in August of 1996. The president and CEO is Kevin P.Reilly. Reilly is also listed on numerous filings as the President and CEO of Lamar Advertising.
According to the City of Hartford's Assessor's Office the Fair market value of the property is listed at $164,700 with an annual assessment of $115,290 . The land value according to the Assessor is $53,060.
On June 22,2012 the License and Inspection Department of the City of Hartford served the property owners and their Attorney John B. Kennelly with a "Order to Abate" which essentially meant they condemned the property, claiming that the building "is in imminent danger of failure" The billboard above the property, owned by Lamar Advertising, was immediately removed .
On June 20, 2012, Kennelly apparently applied for a demolition permit to tear the building down. That has not been completed as of this date, but a demolition contractor from Milford is listed on the permit application.
Now the interesting part. Several sources at City Hall have called telling me that there is an offer being prepared by the City to purchase the property for $500,000. A property that has been condemned and a property that the assessor says the land is assessed at $53,060 may now be purchased by the City for ten times that value. The big question is why. Is this another deal like the Butt Ugly Building where Mayor Perez was quoted in Grand Jury testimony as saying"we need to take care of Abe". referring to politico Abe Giles. Should we now list another political operatives name who needs to be "taken care" of at the taxpayers expense?
And for what, to move an abandoned building that sits perfectly fine on the lot it was built on . And a property that the HPD Credit Union was more than willing to purchase at $170,000 with no additional expenses to the taxpayers of Hartford?
As a loophole to gathering information, pending real estate transactions and negotiations are exempt from disclosure under Freedom Of Information statutes in Connecticut. So none of this would be public until after the taxpayers cut a check.
Requests for comment from TLC Properties and Lamar Advertising were not returned. Attorney Kennelly did return a voicemail message stating that he was busy.
1391 Main Assessor Record
1391 Main Condemnation Order