Hartford, Connecticut in its efforts to remove one of the most blighted buildings in the city — the Capitol West building near I-84 — got a big boost today from The Hartford Financial Services Group which committed $2 million to buy it, tear it down and redevelop the property.
The Capitol West property is the centerpiece of a five-year, $7 million grant by The Hartford to invest in the Asylum Hill neighborhood, where the insurer has been headquartered for nearly 100 years.
Capitol West on Myrtle Street, which has been vacant for a decade, is at the eastern edge of The Hartford's campus.
For the city, it's one of four buildings at high-profile, gateway locations that local officials have wanted to redevelop. Capitol West is considered crucial because it is in full view by motorists on I-84 westbound, including, including thousands traveling to work at The Hartford and Aetna, key employers in city.
Two of the blighted buildings — Broadcast House on Constitution Plaza and the H.B. Davis Building on Main Street, known as the Butt-Ugly building — have been demolished, the later just in the past week. One other building, the former Clarion Hotel, also on Constitution Plaza, is also on the city's list for redevelopment.
Today, at a press conference, Segarra praised The Hartford's commitment to the Capitol West project and other initiatives in the Asylum Hill neighborhood.
"Capitol West has stifled the growth and connection between Asylum Hill and adjacent neighorhoods, especially our central business district, for more than 10 years," Segarra said. "Taking down this building and not seeing this eyesore from I-84 will be a symbolic step towards the positive and creative uses we could have in store for this land."
Capitol West is a 170,000-square-foot building that was a car dealership in the 1950s. The upper floors — most of which are now missing windows — were added later after Capitol West was converted to an office building. In the past, it was used by Pratt & Whitney and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance.
In the early 1980s, it was owned by Sam Zell, the Chicago real estate mogul who is now chairman of Tribune Co., the parent of The Courant and Fox CT.
The Hartford's $7 million investment in Asylum Hill includes a broad range of initiatives, including continued support for the Northside Institutions
Neighborhood Alliance. The alliance, known as NINA, has been purchasing and rehabbing residential buildings throughout Asylum Hill. One of its latest projects, a "Perfect Six" on Atwood Street is now for sale.
The Hartford's commitment also includes support for The Shelter for Women, after-school programs at West Middle School and Junior Achievement.
"In collaboration with other Asylum Hill community leaders, we want to make a difference for the families that live here, the children who study and play here and for the people who work here," said Liam E. McGee, The Hartford's president and chief execuitve.