As the Occupy Wall Street movement grows to Los Angeles, Fresno, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, Boston, and more, and even goes global, it was only a matter of time before it took hold in Connecticut, specifically in the insurance capitol of the world. That's right, it's Occupy Hartford! In solidarity with our fellow Nutmeggers, I propose an offshoot movement: Occupy Stamford!
What's the mission of Occupy Stamford? Is it to bring accountability and decency to the finance industry? Eh, too much work. To demand a faster rollout of our new M-8 train cars? Not really. To teach people in Stamford how to use their turn signals? No, but that would be nice. The mission of Occupy Stamford is to shame Milstein Properties into selling our city's worst eyesore, The Hole!! These absentee owners have let that huge lot sit for 14 years without making even a half-hearted attempt to develop or sell it (in their defense, they're just continuing the tradition of neglect passed down from all the previous landowners). Every time someone offers them their asking price, they raise the price. Nice!
Fortunately, our friends over at 888 Washington Boulevard may have found a way to finally end this nightmare. According to this Angela Carella column from June, "They found a way in the 1968 contract between the URC and the previous owner, a subsidiary of Stamford developer F.D. Rich. The contract provision says the URC has the right to buy the parcel from a mortgage holder who does not develop it by paying the mortgage debt. The URC is working on calculating a price using a formula in the contract. It would be substantially less than what the Milsteins could get on the open market, Goldberg said."
I'm not a fan of governments seizing private property except for public purposes like roads or railroads, and the whole Pfizer debacle in New London brought my blood to a boil, but this is different. It's a clear case of purposeful and never-ending neglect. As much as I'm also not a fan of the urban renewal projects of the 1960s, this was clearly not the intention of Stamford's attempt at renewal. The purpose was for developers to buy the land and then, oh, I don't know, DEVELOP IT - not sit on it for decades.
I hope that the URC goes through with this plan. Heck, they could probably put out a call asking for citizens to contribute whatever they can to pay the mortgage debt on The Hole. It would be a great rallying cry and could really bring the city together for a common cause.
Until then, Occupy Stamford will continue to complain loudly about The Hole! What, did you really think I was going to suggest camping out in a public park? Have you ever camped out in the Northeast in the fall or winter?? It's cold outside!