Foreclosure Scorecard Needed To Keep Up With Hartford Building

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The former Hartford Office Supply Co. building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street in Hartford is in foreclosure -- again. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/The Hartford Courant.


You need a scorecard to keep up with the foreclosures on the old Hartford Office Supply Co. building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street  in Hartford.

For the second time in as many years, the 150,000-square-foot brick and brownstone structure — last envisioned for conversion into apartments — has been hit with a foreclosure filing, according to court records, this time by the company that bought a tax lien on the property.

Plymouth Park Tax Services, also known as XSpand, is seeking to take possession of the property from the current owners, Paradigm Capital Corp. of New York. XSpand is owned by JPMorganChase.

Two windows on the rear of the former Hartford Office Supply building in Hartford are a reminder of failed redevelopment efforts. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/The Hartford Courant.

Paradigm, which has a photo of the building at 390 Capitol Ave. on its web site, took control of the building in 2010 from Tarragon Corp., which filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The bankruptcy is pending.

Paradigm didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment.

According to city records, Plymouth Park bought tax liens of $177,000 covering payments that weren’t made to the city for 2007 and 2008. Paradigm is now behind by in paying $333,000 for 2009 and 2010, records show.

Tarragon bought the building in 2005 for $2.65 million from Henry M. Zachs, whose father bought the building in 1939. Tarragon first envisioned condominiums, then apartments for the site; and, in 2008, Tarragon made the only improvement seen under their stewardship: two, 20-over-20 paned windows. The windows were supposed to show what the exterior the converted building would look like, but they became a reminder of  a redevelopment failure.

Many had hoped the apartments would become a reality and become a sorely-needed boost for restaurant and businesses.

Some of the structure dates back to the late 1800’s and, in the early 20th century, was occupied by Pratt & Whitney toolmakers — a different company from the aircraft giant in East Hartford.

The building at 390 Capitol Ave. in Hartford has been hit by vandalism. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/The Hartford Courant.

There has been little activity at 390 Capitol since Paradigm’s takeover. Last summer, some weeds were cut down in the front of the building. In recent months, the structure has been the target of vandalism.

This morning, the only life I saw or rather heard were the birds which have nested in the silver letters of  “Hartford Office Supply Co.,” still affixed to the facade.

A roll of papers — the summons for the foreclosure — was still anchored near the front door with an elastic band.

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11 thoughts on “Foreclosure Scorecard Needed To Keep Up With Hartford Building

  1. Kenneth R. Gosselin Post author

    Thanks for pointing that out, Mary. Do you live in the area? I was talking with one of my colleagues, Matt Sturdevant, about what the building should be used for now. Any thoughts on that?

  2. Luis Cotto

    Maybe there was more than one clean-up but residents of Frog Hollow participated in a mass clean-up of North Frog Hollow which included all the weed in front of the property.

    There was a huge difference between Taragon and Paradigm. Taragon hired a landscaper for the time they owned it. Paradigm just let it sit. I even called someone at a NY office and said that that if they paid for pizza, I could get a bunch of neighborhood kids to clean up the eyesore…no reply.

    I hope XSpand will be more responsible.

    As to what can happen, there are various adaptive reuse models out there, most notably the incredible creation of MassMOCA up in North Adam, Mass.

    In the meantime, why not fix up the first floor to allow local artists to have a massive quarterly exhibition there.

    Another thing that happened that made zero sense was that when the original sale happened between Tarragon and the Zachs, the Zachs removed all the spiny things that prevented birds from nesting in the HARTFORD OFFICE SUPPLIES letters. Now it’s a virtual smörgåsbord of guano. :)


  3. Susan Williams

    I work next door to this building and on December 16, 2011 I noticed that the fire alarm was going off in the building and as of today, March 20, 2012 the alarm is still going off. There is a also a large sink hole in the driveway next to the building. It’s sad that such a beautiful historic building has been allowed to just fall apart.

  4. Kenneth R. Gosselin Post author

    Henry Zachs, who sold the building to Tarragon, called me today. His father had owned 390 Capitol Ave. since 1939. Mr. Zachs said he thinks the building should not be used for residential at but rather art exhibition space. Mr. Cotto suggested something similar. Any other thoughts?

  5. Mary Cockram

    Luis is right: he led a cleanup earlier in the summer, and the City did another later.

    New development of the building will need to address the modest space for parking that the building has–harder to fix than the giant sinkhole. It’s hard to imagine enough demand for a purely commercial or office space, so mixed use with some residential on upper floors seems like the way to go.

  6. DavidS

    From this Xspand page, it looks there is a significant chance that the building could end up being auctioned off:

    “To help provide the highest sale price for our municipal clients and as a resource for the investor community, we may market these properties through our Real Estate for Sale and Real Estate Auctions web pages”

    Also, THANKS for the excellent article Mr. Gosselin.

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  8. Jim

    I use to work in the building when it Was,The Hartford Office Supplies owned by the Kilpatrick Family . It really use to be a nice building to work in. This was back in 1984 to about 1987.

  9. Dee

    There used to be several smaller businesses in this building. There was one left when Hartford Office Supply closed. They forced that business which had been in the building for 30+ years to vacate. It was a hardship. Then they proceeded to do nothing whatsoever to the building.
    So, a viable small business is nearly destroyed to make room for …………nothing. That sounds about right.

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