MISMANAGEMENT SANK ARCHITECTURE CONSERVANCY
The grass grows thigh deep outside the pair of white Greek Revival houses at the corner of Retreat Avenue and Essex Street.
The Wright and Barnes houses, which pre date the Civil War, look like scores of other historic houses for which 1990s Hartford has no use. They bring an air of neglect, not history, to the street.
Nearby, 26 Franklin Ave. is a similar sight a vacant eyesore with a delinquent property tax bill, also owned by the architecture conservancy. On Hartford’s South Green Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica , the conservancy has paid no taxes in more than five years on the brick hulk with boarded replica louis vuitton handbags up windows it owns at Park and Main streets.
“You don’t want to call HAC an absentee landlord, but it’s the same kind of situation,” said Fran Reale, co owner of City Fare, a catering and gourmet food business on Franklin Avenue and one of a number of neighbors unhappy about the state of the conservancy’s property.
The three neglected buildings now stand as monuments to the financial collapse of what was once one of Hartford’s most prominent and successful charitable community organizations.
Saddled with more than $200,000 in debt, mismanagment by its former executive director and an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office into possible misuse of funds, board members voted Thursday to file for bankruptcy.
“It was a hole we could not pull ourselves out of,” said board president Connie Williams. “We just had too much on our plate.”
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Greater Hartford Architecture Conservancy changed the face of Hartford, not only saving or helping to save hundreds of historic buildings and at least once a whole neighborhood but finding new uses for those buildings as homes and offices.
In the words of one founder, the conservancy was not only an organization, it was a cause one based on the high quality designer replica handbags wholesale faith that urban living could still work, that even in a state as suburban as Connecticut, the city could 1:1 replica handbags remain a viable home for families and businesses.
To understand what the architecture conservancy has given Hartford, imagine how the city might look if it had never existed. A highway might run through Bushnell Park. 1:1 replica handbags The historic brownstones on Capitol Avenue and Buckingham Street might be parking lots. And the Congress Street neighborhood almost certainly would have been bulldozed for urban renewal in the 1970s.
With the conservancy dissolved, Hartford which has a huge backlog of abandoned buildings awaiting demolition has no organization exclusively dedicated to architectural preservation.
“The conservancy was always willing to stick its neck out and jump into the public arena and say it like it was,” said John W. Shannahan, Connecticut’s state historic preservation officer. “If the city of Hartford is going to have any architectural heritage to pass on to future generations, the job is not complete.”
In many ways, the conservancy and its high profile, outspoken executive director cheap replica handbags , Michael J., now 40, were victims of economic forces that withered corporate support and membership over the past decade.
During the early 1990s, when Connecticut’s economy was sinking into a deep recession, the conservancy took risks for the public good, in an effort to become a catalyst for economic development. Those risks often didn’t pan out.
In an effort to boost Hartford’s South Green, the conservancy bought 89 97 Main St. for $300,000 in 1991. But was never able to get the South Green development plan started, and the Main Street property now carries $84,500 in delinquent taxes, making it one of several properties that have become a major financial problem for the conservancy.
“I think it was a whole bunch of factors,” said this week from his new home in Arizona. “It’s not like cheap replica handbags I blew into town and destroyed some organization. In the 15 years I was there, the conservancy did a lot of good for the city. [But] sometimes you just get overwhelmed.”
didn’t limit his or the conservancy’s efforts to real estate development. During the dark economic times of the early 1990s, he seemed to be everywhere in downtown Hartford heading the board of directors of the Hartford Hellcats professional basketball team, launching a retail store selling Russian crafts in the Civic Center Mall, even running the open fake designer bags air Main Street Market. also was vice president of Business for Downtown Hartford, a small business organization.
In reality, the balls that seemed to be juggling so Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags deftly were falling to the ground. And ‘s personal Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica life was in turmoil.
By early 1995 his 14 year marriage had broken up high quality replica handbags china and he was living in a one room apartment in Hartford. Less than two weeks after the financial collapse of the Hellcats, found himself living alone and with two tickets to the National Basketball Association All Star game in Phoenix.
He ended up going to the game with a young female conservancy employee, which marked the start of a shopping spree in Arizona and Florida. According to credit card records, charged more than $31,000 for Gucci bags, Louis Vuitton leather goods, women’s shoes at Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren women’s apparel, rental cars and airfare. His annual salary was $50 dolabuy ,000. said he had no intimate relationship with the woman, whom he said performed clerical duties at the conservancy. said he ended up having to declare personal bankruptcy in October 1995, and all of the shopping trip debt was either discharged as part of the bankruptcy filing, or paid off by his parents.
says now that the pressure of trying to run the conservancy, the Hellcats and the Main Street Market under extreme financial pressure had overwhelmed him.
“My drug was to basically go nuts for a couple months,” said. Ultimately, said he was forced to seek counseling.
Investigators with the Attorney General’s office, however, have interviewed witnesses about ‘s credit card use on the Phoenix trip. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said misuse of credit cards is one potential area of investigation.
“We have a very active and substantial Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags investigation concerning possible misuse of the organization’s funds for personal purposes,” Blumenthal said. “The personal purposes relate to one or more individuals associated with the organization, but at this point I can’t be more specific.”
said he had three credit cards in his name, two of them personal and one that he used for the conservancy, which had GHAC written on it. He said he tried to keep them all separate, but that was not always easy given the complexity of his and conservancy related activities.
To the best of his recollection, said, any replica louis vuitton bags personal charges or Hartford Sports and Entertainment expenses charged to any of the credit cards were reimbursed by the appropriate party.
Investigators “are still exploring the board’s potential responsibility for wrongdoing,” Blumenthal said.
Board president Connie Williams said she is fully cooperating with Blumenthal and does not know of any wrongdoing by staff or board members.