Aug. 7, 2012, Update:
The Common Council voted Monday 9-3 to approve the $60,000 purchase of the Capitol Liquor license encumberance, according to the Middletown Eye. Three Democrats, Grady Faulkner, Todd Berch and Mary Bartolotta, voted no.
UPDATE: 11 a.m.
The city's economic development commission voted unanimously to pay $60,000 to purchase the encumbrance for the Capitol Liquor property on Monday for what city officials see as a more desirable use of the building — a retail and office space for another large property owner on Main Street.
"This clears the way for sale of the property to Michael L. Stone, owner of Main Street Market," according to Middletown Councilman and EDC chair Gerry Daley. "He is primarily interested in the property to use the rear for parking but will be renovating the building for retail use on the first floor and office use on the second floor."
Daily said the committee felt acquiring the deed restriction was necessary in order to address a longstanding problem of loitering and nuisance activity that generates a large amount of police activity in the area of the store.
"The committee felt it was the only way to achieve positive economic development on the property."
The is recommending the city buy a deed restriction on the old Capitol movie theater building, to expedite the sale of the Main Street property.
The commission voted to pay $60,000 to purchase the encumbrance for the Capitol Liquor property on Monday for what city officials see as a more desirable use of the building.
“It’s been a long sought-after goal to remove the package store from Main Street,” said Planning, Zoning and Conservation Director Bill Warner.
“A very good, very responsible business owner will be buying the property,” Warner said, but was unable to divulge the individual’s name. “He said to us, ‘I know you’ve been trying to get rid of the liquor store,’” Warner said.
“We will be buying the non-conforming rights to have a package store at that location for $60,000 and the private individual will be buying the real estate.”
EDC Chair Gerry Daily explained. "There's a private sale of the Capitol Liquor Store and the city is being asked to assist in offsetting the vaue of the liquor license."
The 1,000-seat auditorium of the Capitol Theater was fully demolished last December. The lobby on Main Street with its massive marquis is still there — and has housed the package store since 1974. Joseph Salvatore of Wethersfield owns what remains of the building and the gravel parking lot out back — a total of a half-acre, Warner said.
Just in 2011 alone, Warner said, there were a huge number of police calls, arrests and complaints at the 350 Main Street address.
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“We looked at the criminal history, the number of arrests, intoxicated and unwanted persons on Main Street, larcenies, police assists,” Warner said, even a suicide threat. The former head of , the late , Warner said, attributed most of the disturbances at the MAT station, inside and out, to people waiting to buy liquor at the store or drinking the liquor they had purchased, Warner said.
And when police began cracking down on intoxicated people hanging out at the bus station, he said, they’d move to the Harbor Park tunnel, where the same events would play out again.
Once there are two rather than the current three package stores downtown, Warner said, there would be “no opportunity to open a new one because of the 1,500-foot distance requirement in zoning.”
Capitol Liquor’s departure would leave at 610 Main Street and Metro Spirits at 170 Main Street.