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Sale of former Thames Plaza office building delayed yet again

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published May 30. 2014 4:00AM
Owner appeals judge's ruling; Capano frustrated

Norwich — The recent foreclosure auction sale of the vacant former Thames Plaza office building will be delayed again after the owner filed an appeal challenging a New London Superior Court judge's ruling accepting the sale and rejecting arguments to negate the sale.

Attorney Vincent Fazzone, representing Norwich Harborview Corp., on Wednesday filed an appeal to the state Appellate Court stating that the auction sale was approved "contrary to standing orders and public policy."

In the May 3 auction sale, Norwich businessman Scott Capano posted the lone bid of $233,700.01, one cent above the taxes owed to the city.

Capano, whose family owns the nearby Harp & Dragon Irish Pub and local ShopRite supermarkets, said he plans to keep his offer intact throughout the appeal process, but said he was disappointed at the further delay.

"It just makes the process more frustrating," Capano said. "We're going to stick with it. We think we can get that building occupied and make it an asset to the downtown."

The appeal to Appellate Court is the latest of several attempts by owner Norwich Harborview Corp., led by businesswoman Janny Lam, to negate the auction sale. Attorneys for the firm were successful in delaying the sale a year ago and then argued successfully in December to Judge Emmett Cosgrove to reject a Nov. 30 sale, also to Capano for 1 cent above the taxes owed at the time.

Cosgrove set the new auction for May 3. But on May 2, the owner again objected and attempted, too late, to delay the sale, saying a short-sale for $500,000 approved by the mortgage holder, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, was pending. The judge, however, rejected that argument on May 23 and approved the auction sale.

In an objection to the sale filed on May 16, Fazzone argued that the new appraisal that dropped the fair market value from $700,000 to $350,000 wasn't filed in court until after the auction. Fazzone also argued that the minimum deposit should have been half the $70,000 set by the court based on the previous appraisal, "which would have attracted more bidders."

Fazzone included a reference to the short sale proposal in his objection.

Cosgrove addressed the short sale in rejecting another auction delay. He noted that a letter submitted to the court from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation approving the short sale was altered by hand in two spots, changing April deadlines to May. But no representative from the tribe initialed the date changes.

"The court also notes that counsel for the Tribal Nation did not appear to support this motion," Cosgrove wrote in the May 23 order approving the sale.

c.bessette@theday.com

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