Hartford To Return Wethersfield Avenue Building To Ex-Owner
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
April 16, 2008
The city has agreed to transfer property on Wethersfield Avenue back to its former owner, who now says that instead of demolishing the existing building, he plans to convert it to market-rate apartments.
The deal, which the city council approved Monday night, marks the second time that developer Jose Reategui will own the property at 990 Wethersfield Ave.
The city acquired the two-story, 27,000-square-foot brick building in 1999 for $350,000, then sold it to Reategui, a supporter of and donor to Mayor Eddie A. Perez, for $150,000 in 2004.
Reategui's original plans called for knocking down the building and constructing new housing for the elderly in its place. Those plans did not materialize, so the city took the property back last year and kept the developer's money.
Reategui also owns the adjacent 1000 Wethersfield Ave. — the former Marc Anthony's restaurant. The city has already given him $75,000 in federal money to remove underground storage tanks at that property.
After the city reclaimed 990 Wethersfield Ave., Reategui changed his plan for the site and negotiated a deal with the city to buy the property back for $1.
Instead of knocking the existing building down, he'll build 24 market-rate apartments, including some designed for the elderly.
He'll pay at least $170,000 to remediate the property; if remediation costs less, he'll pay the city the difference, according to city records.
This time, the city is confident that he'll get it done.
"The first time around was a completely different project, taking a building down and building from the ground up," said Mark McGovern, the city's acting director of development services. "Now he's returning to his successful business practice — renovating an existing structure."
Although the city could have solicited other offers for the property, it was not required to, McGovern said. Given that Reategui has already invested in the property and owns the parcel next door, selling back to him made sense, he said.
As for the $1 selling price, McGovern said that charging Reategui more for the property would only make completing the project harder.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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