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Land Deal Questioned by Hartford Residents

Oct. 6, 2013

How could a $500,000 property in Hartford, a city facing a $70 million deficit, be sold for $1.00? This is a question many Hartford residents are asking themselves.

SAMA, the Spanish American Merchant’s Association, has a mission to help stimulate and create business in Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut. However, after a recent deal between the association, the City of Hartford and Hartford Hospital, some are questioning whether the association in being true to their mission as well as what was the city’s motive behind the sale.

The City of Hartford sold SAMA a property located at 95 Park Street, which is now SAMA’s main office building, a year-and-a-half ago. On the same day SAMA bought the property for $1, it turned around and sold a piece of the land to Hartford Hospital for $500,000, property the hospital needed for building a parking garage.

The Mayor of Hartford signed the quit-claim deed, which shows that he and the city were aware of both the land’s value and the hospital’s desire to purchase the property from the city. Regardless, the city still sold the property to SAMA for the sum of $1.

Jared Kupiec, the Mayor’s chief of staff, said that the property is not a half million dollar gift because the money is “specifically designated for repairs on the building, which the city had failed to recognize or failed to appropriate funds for over the last two decades.”

The lease agreement on the building required SAMA to make repairs to the building. However, the majority of repairs were not made until the city approved the sale to the association. SAMA states it has spent more than $239,000 on repairs, but as of yet, the city has not received copies of any receipts showing the amounts spent building improvements

Those questioning SAMA for copies of receipts were told to speak to SAMA attorneys.

There were issues with the sale of the property from the beginning. According to one councilman, proper procedures were not followed when a public hearing on the sale was held just seven days after it was brought to the council’s attention, instead of the required fifteen days. Another irregularity was the sale was never sent to the planning committee which is a requirement of state law.

Chief of Staff Kubiec said that although there may have been some issues with the sale of the property to SAMA, it was not a questionable deal.

Still many residents feel the sale of the property to SAMA needs more investigation. Why would a city hurting for money give away a property worth half a million dollars instead of selling the property for what it was worth and collecting the hefty sum itself?

Original story found here.