Hardly Saccharine or Sentimental

. . the city shouldn’t let saccharine sentimentality dictate the future. If the city around the building has changed, it might be best for the building to evolve as well.” – Hartford Courant editorial, August 24, 2016

Anyone who has spent five minutes with me in a discussion regarding historic preservation knows that I refer to myself as a “practical” preservationist.  HPA is not the organization which just says “no,” rather we operate with a mission of “here’s how.”  Preserving a property only to have it continue to sit vacant, abandoned, without contributing to community economic development is useless in Hartford.  We try to prevent demolition in haste. One only needs to walk along Main Street in Downtown to see how well that strategy went.  Our Throwback Thursday posts on social media are among the most popular in our attempt to draw public attention to historic preservation.  Invariably the comments tend to wonder why such and such a building had to be torn down.

289 Farmington Avenue - Comet Diner

289 Farmington Avenue – Comet Diner

One has tremendous sympathy for an elderly property owner who bears the financial burden of maintaining a vacant building. Several cases have come before state courts seeking to have buildings demolished due to their poor condition.  The courts found that “demolition by neglect” is not a defense.  Our attempt to work with representatives of the Comet has yet to engage in a conversation to forge a workable solution. In fact the representative seems determined to ignore any of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood wishes to rejuvenate one of the City’s major commercial corridor.  The desire seems to be to get rid of an historic building and replace it with soulless big box retail.  Please give attention to the intersection of Park Street and Washington to envision an eyesore which pretty much destroyed the urban fabric of that neighborhood.

Washington St. corner of Park St. (photo: Hartford City Assessor)

Washington St. corner of Park St. (photo: Hartford City Assessor)

HPA is working diligently to find an economically viable solution.  Never confuse our desire to preserve with saccharine sentimentality.  We seek some time and the opportunity to bring funds to redevelop and reuse the Comet as well as five other vacant and abandoned properties along Farmington Avenue.

Read full editorial here: http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-comet-diner-0824-20160823-story.html

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