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Capitol West: Demolishing Longtime Eyesore Will Enhance Hartford

Hartford Courant Editorial

April 04, 2012

People object when some buildings are torn down, often rightly, saying the building has historic or architectural merit. No such sentiment was heard and no tears were shed Wednesday at a ceremony marking the end of Hartford's Capitol West building.

The building has become a beat-up car on cinder blocks in the city's front yard, an eyesore that no one can miss, a symbol of a city down on its luck. It was its own version of the "broken-window theory."

But now it's coming down, thanks to a push from Mayor Pedro Segarra and a partnership with the nearby Hartford Financial Services Group.

The building is on a busy I-84 commuter exit to Hartford, and it's a popular way to reach the headquarters of The Hartford and Aetna. When Liam McGee, chairman and CEO of The Hartford, took over the top executive post at the insurer in 2009, he had to drive by the decrepit building every morning.

As he told The Courant's Ken Gosselin, "I wanted this building down."

The Hartford donated $2 million toward the effort. The city paid $1.7 million to acquire it from owner Joshua Guttman after an eminent domain fight. The demolition will leave a pleasing view of the Victorian structures on Asylum Hill, a vast improvement and a much better message about the city.

When the building is down in about four months, Mr. Segarra will have leveled the city's two leading eyesores, Capitol West and the former H.B. Davis building, also near I-84. Though he will be remembered for what he built, not what he demolished, these were projects that simply had to get done.

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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