Still standing despite demolition promise

This building on Svea Ave. in Branford is still standing one year after a promise to tear it down.

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Remember this eyesore of a building on Svea Avenue in Branford? We told you about it in May of 2013. It’s falling apart and full of garbage.

Even if you don’t remember the building, you might remember Wendy Nelson, the woman next door who called News 8, and you might remember how happy she was when we told her the owner promised to tear the building down. “If it took notifying Channel 8 to get this done, I’m really happy about it,” Nelson said in 2013. “And thanks to Channel 8 for getting this done.”

But here’s the problem: 14 months later, it still isn’t done. That former grange hall is still standing. The owner of the business across the street says it looked worse than ever until a couple weeks ago.

“A week or two ago, the grass was about as high as my knees and there was dirt all over the street,” John Miller from Signs by Autografix said. “It was a mess.”

Open holes in the roof of a building on Svea Ave. in Branford.
Open holes in the roof of a building on Svea Ave. in Branford.

The owner, a Mr. Hartman, came and mowed the grass and cleaned things up, but that’s it so far.

Neighbors and town officials are all telling News 8 the same thing — that the big holdup for the demolition is that this piece of property was used in another deal as collateral, so the owner couldn’t just tear it down. He had to get permission from the bank. They’re all being told by the owner that that permission has come through and the demolition can go forward.

Building officials at Branford Town Hall say the paperwork is all in place for the demolition to go forward. As far as they know it’s going to happen. Of course the owner has said that before, yet it’s still here, a plague on Svea Ave.

“Right now there’s racoons living in there, it’s a mess,” Miller said. He says the people who live and work on the street would like to see it cleaned up. “It used to be a beautiful Grange Hall. At this point the best thing for it is to be knocked down,” he said.

The only phone number found for Mr. Hartman, the owner, went straight to voicemail and the voicemail box was full. The address for that number led right back to that empty building on Svea Avenue. We will keep watching that building to make sure this time it really is demolished.

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