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Hartford Files to Take Land By Eminent Domain for Baseball Stadium Project

City of Hartford
A rendering of a planned baseball stadium near downtown Hartford.
Credit Hartford Redevelopment Agency
An area north of downtown planned for a baseball stadium in Hartford.

In a lawsuit, the city said it wants to use eminent domain to take 14 properties from a private landowner for $1.98 million.

The City of Hartford said it's unable to reach an agreement to buy three acres of land it needs as part of its baseball stadium development project. So, instead of buying it, it's just going to take it

Last month, the city council approved a $350 million plan to build a minor league baseball stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats. The plan includes a bunch of other stuff, too: housing, retail, a supermarket, and a brewery.

But the city of Hartford doesn't own all of the land it needs for the project. So, in a lawsuit filed in state court, it said it wants to use eminent domain to take 14 properties from a private landowner for $1.98 million.

The city would then enter into a 99-year lease with the stadium's developers, who would likely use that land for retail, housing, and other uses.

The city wouldn't grant an interview. In emails, it told the story this way:

Earlier this summer, the city of Hartford reached a deal with Covered Bridge Ventures to buy 14 properties near the planned baseball stadium site for $2.5 million. That arrangement was approved by the city council in August.

After that happened, the city said, the folks at Covered Bridge Ventures apparently saw an opportunity, and changed course. Instead of selling 14 parcels for $2.5 million, they wanted to sell fewer parcels for a higher price per square foot. That apparently ticked off people at city hall, who have told the court that they now want to take all of the land -- but instead of paying $2.5 million, they'll pay just $1.98 million.

Interestingly, Covered Bridge Ventures only bought the properties, which are parking lots, in 2012 -- and they bought them from Central Parking. The exact dollar figure of the purchase is complicated, and we're working to confirm it. 

Also of note: the city's filing with the court didn't mention the baseball stadium or its related development. Instead, the city said it wants to take the private property "to create a development which would complement the newly constructed Public Safety Complex." That would seem to imply that the proposed use the city has in mind is somehow "public safety" oriented, although we know that isn't the case.

The city said the court could give it the property after 35 days.

The owner may appeal the amount of the payment -- and that could take a while -- but the property would then be in the city's hands.

"It is an additional task to be completed," a city attorney said. "But it won't hurt the project."

Covered Bridge Ventures declined to comment.

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