Meriden moves to foreclose on blighted downtown buildings

Meriden moves to foreclose on blighted downtown buildings

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MERIDEN — The city has filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the owners of two downtown buildings that have been subject to blight fines since September.

Foreclosure notices were sent to CBD & Sons LTD of Brooklyn, New York, the owners of 9-11 Colony St. and 13-15-17 Colony St. in January. The state Department of Economic and Community Development is also named as a party because of a loan, as is former owner Paul Edwards.

The city claims its interest supercedes any other party, according to the lawsuit. 

The buildings are considered prime properties in the city’s transit-oriented development because they are next to the train station and share views of the Meriden Green.

They have been vacant for nearly two decades and have since fallen into disrepair. After debris and water started falling onto the sidewalk last year, the city stepped in to make improvements to the roof and facade. It also erected a fence along the sidewalk to protect pedestrians.

According to the lawsuit, a property maintenance lien of $1,600 was put on the buildings in March 2019, and another for the same amount in June 2019.  A $2,700 anti-blight lien was placed on the property in September 2019, which subjected the owners to fines of $100 per day. 

“We have worked diligently to try to get the owner to remediate but to no avail,” said City Attorney Stephanie Dellolio.

CBD & Sons acquired the building through a quit-claim deed from former owner Paul Edwards in 2017. Edwards fought the action but has been judged a non-appearing party in the current lawsuit.

CBD & Sons were served paperwork last month, but have not responded, according to court records. Their attorney Aaron Twersky could not be reached for comment Thursday.

“If they don’t appear, we can go for a quick judgment.” Dellolio said.

A detailed account of what is owed to the city is still in the works, as is an appraisal of the property value. 

According to Dellolio, CBD could hire an attorney to fight the action which would prolong proceedings, or if it does not respond, the city wins by default. If there is equity in the buildings, there will be a public sale. If not the city gains title to the buildings. 

According to land records, 9-11 Colony St. is appraised at $324,800 and 13-17 is appraised at $347,500. Water and sewer bills are current, and the taxes owed are less than $3,000 on each building, according to the tax office. The blight fines could exceed more than $15,000.

The foreclosure filing marks the second legal action against the buildings in four years. Edwards bought them in 2005 for $1 with the understanding he would turn them into a jazz club and restaurant, but he struggled to finance the renovations.

Edwards nearly lost the properties in a 2016 tax foreclosure sale brought by the city, but he came up with the delinquent payment just hours before the deadline. He quit-claimed the buildings to CBD & Sons several months later. 

“It’s a beautiful building,” David Cooley director of the Making Meriden Business Center said last year. “Inside,you can see the exposed brick and exposure to the Meriden Green. It’s got Brooklyn brew pub written all over it.”

But part of the challenge, he said is the building’s distinct architecture makes it worth saving but at a prohibitive cost. These buildings often require layers of financing to take advantage of incentives such as historic tax credits. 

In addition to possessing the buildings, the city wants the court to appoint a receiver to collect the rents and profits accruing from the premises.

Attorney David E. Wyskiel of Meriden represents the city.
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