By Matt Dwyer

In a rally with dozens of students at West Middle School in Hartford today, The Hartford insurance company’s top executive announced the firm will spend $7-million over five years, to help the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

Some people in the crowd at West Middle School’s auditorium gasped when they heard the dollar figure.

As part of the $7-million, the company says it will contribute up to $2-million to the city’s efforts to purchase and demolish the Capitol West building.

The five-story building is just a few feet away from the westbound lanes of I-84, near Union Station.  It has long been vacant.  In recent years, the interior has been gutted, and the windows have been replaced by protective steel rods.

“The building as it is currently constructed, to me it looks like a bombed out building,” said The Hartford Chairman, CEO, and President Liam McGee.  “It is not reflective of the richness and the enthusiasm of the greater Hartford area.”

If the city is successful in negotiating a purchase price, McGee says the site of the building would be green space in the short term.

“What happens subsequent to that, time will tell.  But I can tell you that part of our agreement with the city is that it will not be a parking lot,” McGee said.

Several of The Hartford’s parking lots are nearby.  The company’s headquarters are in Asylum Hill.

McGee showed a rendering of what the area would look like without the Capitol West building.  It included a bright green area of grass where the structure had been, and opened up the view of company’s buildings from the highway.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said negotiations to buy the building are almost concluded, whatever the outcome of the negotiations may be.

“We are confident that we will be able to acquire the property, and we are confident we will be able to demolish it,” Segarra said.

The purchase price is still under negotiation, and Segarra said he does not know how much demolition will cost.


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