MDC Negotiations Collapse In Hartford Building Purchase

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford Date:

The Metropolitan District Commission’s negotiations to buy a city-owned building near its downtown Hartford headquarters have collapsed, after about two years of discussions with the city.

In a Sept. 20 letter to the city, the MDC said it withdrew its $2.1 million proposal to buy 525 Main St. after a city council committee questioned whether the three-story building should even be sold.

The city had been counting on the proceeds of a sale to help balance the current fiscal year’s budget, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said today.

The MDC's negotiations to buy a city-owned building south of its headquarters have collapsed. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/

The MDC’s negotiations to buy a city-owned building south of its headquarters have collapsed. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/

The letter from MDC chief executive Charles P. Sheehan came after members of a city council subcommittee postponed a vote on the sale. Members of the council’s committee on management and budget questioned the negotiated price, whether the MDC should lease rather than purchase and whether selling the building should be open to competitive bidding.

In addition, there was discussion about the MDC making an annual payment in lieu of taxes to the city should it buy 525 Main. The MDC does not currently pay taxes on its Main Street headquarters.

City council and MDC board approvals were required to complete the deal.

Segarra said there is a wide hole in the budget without the sale of the building.

“This is extremely disappointing news,” Segarra said. “Without the revenue from the sale, which was already factored into the budget, we are now going to find cost savings elsewhere.”

About half of the space on the upper floors of 525 Main is occupied by the city’s public works department. A sale of the 30,000-square-foot building fit with an ongoing study of how to consolidate city administrative space, city officials have said.

The MDC’s letter acknowledged that details still had to be worked out. But the questions raised by the committee stood in contrast to negotiations with city development staff, the letter said.

Read more here about the MDC proposal to buy 525 Main.

“What is clear is there is not even a consensus among city leadership in support of the fundamental transaction,”  the letter stated.

City council president Shawn Wooden, who also is chairman of the committee on management and budget, said he was “surprised” by the withdrawal given a vote had not been taken by the committee or the full council.

“It’s not clear to me that the votes would not have ultimately been there to support this sale,” Wooden said.

The city was counting on the sale of 525 Main to help balance the current fiscal year's budget. Photo by KENNETH R. GOSSELIN/

The city was counting on the sale of 525 Main to help balance the current fiscal year’s budget. Photo by KENNETH R. GOSSELIN/

The MDC said it could not wait and had hoped to begin occupying the space by the end of the year.

“We will look to other alternatives to meet our needs,” the letter said.

Christopher R. Stone, an attorney for the MDC, told me that one alternative could be property in the South Meadows already owned by the MDC. The MDC needs about 25,000 to 50,000 square feet of office space, he said.

The MDC said it would have preserved the facade of the 1926 structure, across the street from city hall. The MDC was considering the possible addition of a parking garage to the rear of the building.

“In this economy and in this market, this was the best deal we were going to get,” Thomas E. Deller, the city’s director of development, told me. “It would have been nice to sell this property.”


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16 thoughts on “MDC Negotiations Collapse In Hartford Building Purchase

  1. Robert

    So the bankrupt city has an amazing opportunity to sell a property that they SHOULDNT own, for a great price, to someone who will utilize and properly maintain and upgrade the property and they pass on it? They arent getting property taxes on it now, its just another maintenance expense. INSANE. Residents of Hartford call city hall, attend council meetings, DEMAND sale of the building before its too late (if it isnt already)

  2. DR

    As someone who is fairly new to the city, Hartford continues to amaze me. The city should be desperate to get downtown property off its hands and into the hands of business.

    I used to wonder how a city, which is home to large and innovative corporations, and surrouned by well-off residents could be so backwards and such a dump. I learned pretty quickly.

    1. J L

      By “into the hands of business,” I presume you mean a tax-paying entity, which the MDC is not. The broader point, though, is well taken; with the exception of the excellent Cornerstone Deli and a portion of the office space above, the building is not being utilized to its full potential, and the MDC would make productive use of the space. Negotiation of terms such as those involving the deli’s continued operation and a potential PILOT should not drag on so long as to derail the process. Unless the city council members opposing this sale can provide solid evidence of an actual harm resulting from the transfer, they should withdraw their objections.

      The names of council members involved in this decision are posted below for the reference of interested Hartford voters:

      Larry Deutsch (Committee Chair)
      Alexander Aponte
      Cynthia Jennings

        1. J L

          So you were referring to a non-taxpaying entity that is also a business? Something doesn’t compute.

          1. DR

            @JL. I was referring to any busienss, regardless of tax status. Why are you so hung up on tax status?

  3. Ted

    I think the story leaves out a few important things such as, where would the City offices go after the building is sold? Moving into existing city owned space is one thing, but it is likely they would move into rented “Class A” office space at Constitution Plaza. Between relocating the technology in the building and entering into a new long term lease, the proceeds of the sale could quickly evaporate.

    1. Same old song and dance

      DPW is currently working on 50 Jennings Rd (old PD) in order to move their offices there. But dont worry the city is sure to sell this property to another “non-profit” for $1.00

  4. Laughing as always

    You know, as much as you guys waste time crapping on Hartford, you’d think you people lived in someplace absolutely amazing. Sorry to break it to you fellas, but South Windsor, Berlin, and Granby are depressing hick towns in the middle of nowhere. When you live in a Boston or an NYC, let me know. Then you can talk shit :)

    1. LastOne1

      Actually, I can say anything I want about Hartford since my tax dollars support it, just as you say crap about South Windsor, Berlin and Granby.

  5. Robert

    I personally wasnt talking shit about Hartford, only their Government. I love Hartford and I hate to see them make poor judgement calls like selling under utilized and quite beautiful downtown property. This sale would make better use of the property, lead to property improvements, more life on Main St, remove maintenance burden of historic building, etc. Even if they had to lease office space for city workers, this is the right strategic decision.

  6. Patrick

    I hope the Mayor can somehow get MDC back and convince those on the city council why this would be a win win for Hartford, the MDC and this particular building.

  7. Bob

    The City of Hartford continues to make ridiculous and self-defeating decisions because they always think they can do a little better. As for the surrounding towns being depressing hick towns, you obviously are totally ignorant about the area. Living in New York or Boston doesn’t give you the right to “talk shit”, it simply means you live among shit. Thank God the Hartford area doesn’t have nearly the problems those aging, has-been,once wonderful cities do. If it wasn’t for people in the suburbs pouring into those cities, and Hartford, to work, spend money, and support them, they would have dried up and blown away years ago.

  8. J2D

    $2.5 million? Hey, that’s probably what the city will have to settle the latest off-hours city vehicle crash lawsuit.

Comments are closed.