One city eyesore down — and many more to go.
Wearing a pink hard hat and matching rubber boots, Mayor Erin Stewart had no qualms about getting her hands dirty Friday morning. Perched in the cab of an Associated Building Wreckers hydraulic excavator, she took the first few passes at knocking down a blighted house at 474 Arch St.
“It was easy,” Stewart said after hopping out of the giant bucket loader. “It’s like playing a video game.”
New Britain has no development plans for the property, which is across the street from the Food Bag market and slopes down from Arch Street to Rockwell Avenue. City officials say the property will go up for sale to potential developers.
The 2,520-square-foot, three-family building, built in 1900, had been the scene of several fires and much police activity over the years. The City of New Britain owns the foreclosed property, which has an assessed value of $20,930. The property occupies 0.13 acres.
“Taking down this eyesore is another step toward revitalizing our city,” Stewart said. “There was no saving this building. We have wanted to do this now for a year; now that we have the funding [from the Department of Municipal Development]. The building was actually collapsing from the inside.”
Stewart acknowledged the building had been “a crime spot.”
Demolishing it, she said, “is a step toward beautifying the Arch Street area.”
Margaret Malinowksi, neighborhood preseveration program administrator for the city’s Department of Municipal Development, said a similar property at 574 Arch St. and another on East Street will soon be coming down.
“The city was not collecting taxes here [at 474 Arch],” Malinowski said. “The building wasn’t worth rehabbing. The drop [from Arch Street] is so high it’s dangerous.”
Sergio Lupo, director of Licenses, Permits and Inspections, said that the city blight ordinance under Mayor Stewart has been “pretty effective in terms of blighted properties.”
Lupo said the ordinance allows the city to respond quickly, set fines and allows property owners to appeal if an extension is needed.
“Some of our neighborhoods have been plagued by blight for some time and absentee property owners,” Lupo said.
He said the Department of Licenses, Permits and Inspections in the Health Department has the authority to demolish a building depending on the condition of the building and if presents a clear health danger, is structurally unsafe and may collapse.
The property owner has ten days to remedy any violation. If, after the ten days, the violation has not been remedied, the city will remedy the situation and place a lien on the property for the cost of the remedy. The case is then sent for collection.
Mayor Stewart has stressed that the blighted properties program will not make money for the city. However, it should result in “a clean city.”