Pub owner outbids city for Norwich real estate

Norwich - The owner of the Harp & Dragon Irish pub was the winning bidder at a tax foreclosure auction Saturday for the historic, five-story Plaut-Cadden Building at 146 Main St., and said he has "ideas" but no defined plans beyond immediately cleaning it out and repairing the blighted façade.

Scott Capano, bidding as the principal of CAP Realty LLC, bid $28,851 for the building - $1 more than the outstanding taxes and fees owed to the city in the tax foreclosure auction and $1 more than the city's bid.

Other than attorney Aimee Wickless, who bid the minimum $28,850 to cover the city's interests, Capano was the only bidder. One other company, Main 138 LLC, had registered to bid, but attorney Mark Block, representing the firm, did not bid. Spectators, including Alderman H. Tucker Braddock, also attended the auction.

Capano said he is interested in applying for financial incentives in the three downtown revitalization programs approved by voters in November 2010. The three programs offer matching grants for building code improvements, low-interest loans to building owners and rental assistance to help attract commercial tenants.

"I'm going to clean it up within the next 60 days and fix the façade," Capano said as the attorney in charge of the sale filled out bid registration paperwork. "Other than that, I only have ideas at this point."

Capano recently expanded the Harp & Dragon, a popular downtown eatery, into the adjacent building, doubling the size of the Irish pub and restaurant.

"It's great when a downtown businessman invests in another downtown building," Braddock said. "There are some good programs in the city to help out."

The Plaut-Cadden Building has a large retail storefront at the Main Street level, with an ornate tin ceiling still intact. There are apartments on the upper floors and a former dance studio on the third floor. Those who toured the building prior to the auction had to negotiate piles of debris, including old paint cans, concrete blocks, wires and, on the first floor, an old refrigerator and Coke machine.

Historically, the building housed the Plaut-Cadden jewelry store and a business that assembled pianos and victrolas, fitting them with ornate wooden casings.

Mayor Peter Nystrom said Capano's purchase of the building would be "awesome," calling Capano a businessman dedicated to the city and to downtown.

c.bessette@theday.com

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