Judge rejects auction sale of Thames Plaza

Norwich - A New London Superior Court judge has rejected the tax foreclosure auction sale of the Thames Plaza office building in downtown Norwich and ordered a new, more thorough appraisal and new auction on May 3.

The order by Judge Emmet Cosgrove automatically will cause the minimum bid to increase at the next auction, because taxes owed to the city have risen by more than $38,000 and the city of Norwich will have to pay the auction legal fees, which totaled $5,132 after the previous auction.

Those increases have caused lone bidder Scott Capano, representing CAP Realty LLC, to be "apprehensive" about bidding at the next auction, although he said he is still interested in the vacant building. On Nov. 30, the city's attorney Aimee Wickless bid $219,002 to cover the taxes, interest and legal fees owed to the city. Capano bid $219,002.01, and no additional bids were made.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation holds a $1.4 million mortgage on the property, but did not bid at the first auction.

"We'd like to, with any luck, obtain it," Capano said. "I'd hate to see another building sit vacant. Nobody's clamoring, there's nobody lining up to rent office space in downtown Norwich. This is January. The auction is in May. A lot of other opportunities can happen between now and then."

The building is currently owned by Norwich Harborview Corp., headed by Norwich businesswoman Janny Lam. Her attorney, Edward Bona, objected to the first auction sale because it was held on the same date as the Norwich Winter Festival Parade.

Bona said the parade included some downtown road closures and limited parking that could have deterred potential bidders.

Wickless filed a response saying none of the road closures were in the vicinity of the auctioned building, and about a dozen spectators attended the auction. Wickless cited the increased costs in her objection, and said the city's bid would have to cover the debt owed to the city.

The new appraisal ordered by Cosgrove will include a valuation of the interior of the office building that once housed a bank branch, the Second Congressional District office and other offices.

"There is no guaranty that a new sale would increase the sale price, in fact, the City of Norwich could be the sole bidder," Wickless wrote in her response to the court. "If that were the case, this matter would continue forever, as Norwich Harborview Corporation will continue to object to the approval only to further delay the loss of this property."

c.bessette@theday.com

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