Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File
Finance board approves sale of East Hampton town hall building
EAST HAMPTON They say you cant fight city hall, but a developer is looking to buy it.
The town has received an offer from a Bristol resident to buy the old town hall building at 20 E. High St.
The total 13,382-square-foot, two-story building and addition has been on the market for most of the year, as town government is preparing to move to a new home, currently under construction in the Edgewater Hills multi-use complex.
Officials hope the new 34,000-square-foot building which also will house police headquarters and Board of Education offices will be ready for occupancy by the middle of 2020.
The offer to buy the 73-year-old town hall building was made by John Calciano. Town officials were asking $500,000 for the building, which sits on .9 of an acre, and Calciano offered $316,000.
It is the only bid the town received, Director of Finance Jeffrey M. Jylkka said. The proposed sale was approved Monday evening by the Board of Finance.
It now must go to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then the Town Council for their respective approvals before being sent on to a town meeting sometime in January, when residents would make the final decision.
Town Manager David E. Cox, who attended the finance board meeting, said, Its pure conjecture, but there have been suggestions the building could be renovated as office space.
Calciano did not return a phone call Tuesday requesting comment. However, he is being represented by Realtor Chris Burt.
In an email Tuesday afternoon, Burt said, Mr. Calciano is a seasoned Hartford area developer who Burt Realty, LLC has represented for years.
What Burt characterized as an extremely complicated sale has been in the works for over the past six months.
The current plans are basically unclear and there are no tenant commitments, Burt said, declining further comment.
The building reportedly is not in good shape. The well that serves it is contaminated, so we cant drink the water, Jylkka said. There are termites down in my office and I assume in the rest of the building, we have water leakage throughout the building. Its an old building.
Whats more, the building is settling, it is not handclapped accessible, and there is a paucity of parking.
Finance board member Richard Brown expressed concern about a public recitation of the building myriad shortcomings. If we really want someone to buy it, should be discussing all this in public? he asked.
That prompted a good-natured chuckle his colleague Ted Turner. Past news reporting has detailed the buildings deficiencies in various articles, as did former manager Michael Maniscalco, Turner said.
Board member and Realtor Wes Jenks said, Anything the town is aware will have to be disclosed prior to the sale, or the town would be in serious trouble.
That being said, Jenks was put out by what he said was the extremely low price the town was prepared to accept.
Thats ridiculously low, he said of Calcianos $316,000 offer. The town was asking $525,000.
If the town is prepared to let it go for $316,000, We might as give it to (Calciano). Thats a give-away price.
Jenks did a quick calculation and said, Thats about as low as youre going buy 7,000 square feet anywhere in the state right now.
After the meeting adjourned, Jenks estimated it would cost the new owner upward of $300,000 to put the building into a usable state.
The first or main floor contains 7,068 square feet, according to data compiled by town assessor Gail Gwiazdowski. There is an additional 5,264 square feet of space in the finished basement area that contains both the Finance Department offices and police headquarters.
In addition, there is a land-use annex of some 1,050 square feet, Gwiazdowski said.
In 2014, CL&P offered the town $1 million to buy back the building, which originally was built as a customer service center for the utility. CL&P was prepared to covey a 4.6-acre parcel of land it owned on Forest Street to the town as site for a new town hall.
Under terms of the proposed deal, the town could have stayed in the existing building for two years at no cost, but would had to have paid $100,000 for a third year. The town had countered by asking to remain in the building for up to four years at no cost.
Ultimately, the sides could not reach agreement.
In 2017, when the council was looking for a new site for the town hall, it asked whether the CL&P offer was still on the table. It was not.
The town then worked out an arrangement with Stephen and Lisa Motto to locate the new town hall in Edgewater Hills.
During the discussion that preceded Mondays vote, finance board member Alannah Coshow asked what would happen were the board to reject the offer.
It stops and we dont sell it, Jylkka answered.
However, if the town does not sell the building, it still would be responsible for maintaining it to keep, among other things, the water pipes from freezing and rupturing, Jylkka said. He estimated that maintenance could cost as much as $20,000 per year.
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