If ever there were Hartford buildings that should be demolished, they are the Capitol West on Myrtle Street, the H.B. Davis at 1161 Main St. - known by some as the "Butt Ugly Building" - and the former Clarion Hotel on Constitution Plaza.
The long-vacant, rundown structures remain the most prominent unsightly eyesores in Hartford's downtown. Their owners should be ashamed of themselves. Too-good-to-be-true schemes to privately renovate or redevelop the properties have been floated around for years and nothing has been accomplished.
These eyesores retard the growth taking place around them and endanger passers-by.
City inspectors, for example, have declared 1161 Main St. unsafe and twice cited its owner, Robert Danial of the Morgan Reed Group, for falling bricks and falling concrete that have damaged cars parked nearby. And in 2001, a dead body was found on the loading dock of the Capitol West.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez hasn't been shy about demolishing other rundown buildings, yet these unattractive heaps survive. The mayor has finally announced plans to create a redevelopment district that will allow the city to acquire the three eyesores and begin tearing them down within a year. The plan might also include the recently vacated Broadcast House, which sits next to the former Clarion Hotel.
Officials expect to secure authorization in September from the city's redevelopment agency to prepare specifications for the district. When the proposal is finalized and approved, the city will then seek financing and attempt to negotiate a fair purchase price with the owners. City hall should move on this with a sense of urgency.
The use of eminent domain has not been ruled out should the talks with owners become deadlocked.
Studies show that the market for residential housing downtown remains strong. But the presence of the blighted properties doesn't help.
The time is long past due for the Capitol West, the Butt Ugly Building and the former Clarion Hotel to be demolished and the properties redeveloped. They are ugly warts on the urban landscape.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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