Foreclosure papers were filed last week on the former Capewell nail factory property in Hartford. That means developer Joe Reveruzzi might be running out of time to build 92 condos, at what is a prime gateway location between Adriaen’s Landing and downtown. Will the city step in?
The old Capewell nail factory building has had a distinguished succession of owners over the past few years. William DiBella and Anthony Autorino bought the property in 1998. They soon flipped it to developer J. Martin Hennessey, but he couldn’t muster the necessary financing.Joe Reveruzzi took the helm in 2003, fresh from building the Mortson-Putnam Heights housing development in Hartford. He still envisions a $23 million, 92 condominium unit development that infuses life into a corner of Hartford well situated for it: Adriaen’s Landing will be right down the street, and downtown would be within walking distance. But now the lenders are calling, specifically the partnership which holds the $1.4 mortgage on the property. The loan matured at the end of June, and with no financing secured, Reveruzzi defaulted. The partnership filed foreclosure papers in Hartford Superior Court last week.Reveruzzi said he’s not worried. “We’re working on refinancing the mortgage,” he said, adding that he hopes to close in a few weeks. “We’ve got a ton of dough into this thing, and we’re not going to walk away from the debt,” he said. Asked what he means by a “ton of dough,” Reveruzzi replied: “seven figures.“The City of Hartford may help secure the debt, as the city council has already earmarked roughly $2 million in federal grant funding for the development. Mayor Eddie Perez favors dipping into those funds in order to address the debt, said Matthew Hennessy, Perez’s chief of staff (the mayor’s top aide is no relation to developer J. Martin Hennessey). In that scenario, if Reveruzzi then cannot secure the financing, the city would wind up with the property and choose the next developer, Hennessy said. The city council will likely have to sign off on this strategy, a decision that could come in early September, he said.“From the mayor’s perspective, this project needs to get done,” Hennessy said, explaining the arguments in favor a city takeover. “If ownership ends up in multiple other parties, we’ll wind up where we were a few years ago.“If the city does take over the debt, it is unclear just how much time Reveruzzi would have before losing his development rights. In addition to city money, the state-run Capital City Economic Development Authority has reserved $1.8 million for the project, CCEDA spokesman Dean Pagani said. But that money is up for review in November, meaning the CCEDA board could either continue the guarantee, or revoke it, should the board feel Reveruzzi is unable to get the project off the ground. Reveruzzi told ctnewsjunkie.com he’s shifting focus from a highly subsidized approach to traditional private financing, due to the prices being sought by other condominium developments downtown, like David Nyberg’s renovation of the old SNET building. “We’ve recast our economics based on what we think the need for this type of housing is in the city,” Reveruzzi said. That recast means units in the Capewell development will end up around $200 per square foot, as opposed to $100 with a subsidized model, he said. Still, that’s lower than the near $300 per square foot price at Nyberg’s project.“There now appears to be a market-rate market,” Reveruzzi said.