Tony Silvestri locked out of his Harbour Towers
In a curious footnote to the abandonment of New London Harbour Towers by its principal backers, the original developer of the Bank Street condominiums, Tony Silvestri, has been ordered by the unit owners to stay out of the building.
"You are hereby warned and notified to CEASE AND DESIST all such unlawful entry and removal of property from New London Harbour Towers IMMEDIATELY," attorney Amanda Sisley, representing the Harbour Towers homeowners' association, wrote to Silvestri in March.
The letter, which requested the immediate return of all master keys and key fobs, did suggest he may be able to gain entrance to the building in the future for some specific agreed upon maintenance tasks.
The homeowners also have sued the backers whom Silvestri recruited to finish the project he started, members of the Tagliatela family, claiming "unethical and unscrupulous" practices while they were still involved in management of the building.
At the end of 2017, the Tagliatelas gave away 21 of the apartments, over a third of the total of 52, which remained unsold eight years after they were built.
Filed in the lawsuit is a long list of problems with the building, from cracks in the swimming pool to raw sewage leaks inside the building.
When I caught up with Silvestri this week to ask about the cease-and-desist letter, he said that it was based on a misunderstanding and that the issues have been resolved.
I asked him to ask attorney Sisley to tell me if that is the case but he did not suggest he would call her.
Sisley had earlier declined to comment on the letter when I reached her to ask about it but she didn't say anything about a misunderstanding.
The legal fight between the people who purchased condos in Harbour Towers and the developers might simply be a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about investing there.
But it should also be a warning siren for city development authorities as they await the next project by the Tagliatelas and Silvestri: Shipway 221, proposed for Howard Street.
A failed project with so many unsold units and angry and disgruntled buyers are not good calling cards.
When I reached him this week, Steven Lopes, the chief financial officer for several Tagliatela family development companies, said they still are looking for a development partner for the Shipway project.
When I asked whether Silvestri is still the project manager for Shipway, as he is listed on documents submitted for city approvals, Lopes said he can't be a project manager because there is no project.
He said Silvestri has been and continues to be involved in obtaining approvals for the development.
The Renaissance City Development Association granted the Tagliatelas a six-month extension of its development agreement, which was to have expired at the end of April.
That looks to me like more months before the RCDA goes back to square one, with one more failed development project on its chalkboard. There has yet to be one successful new building built on the peninsula that was shamefully cleared by eminent domain.
Another death bell tolling for Shipway is the link on RCDA's web site, which leads to a nonfunctioning website, Shipway221.com.
Indeed, the RCDA's own website could use some tending. The last meeting minutes posted there are from February. And the agency might want to rethink a homepage picture featuring a signing of the Shipway development papers by a guy who has been locked out of another project he developed in the city.
None of this is encouraging for Mayor Michael Passero's development strategy, in which he projects Shipway and another suburban-style apartment complex on Howard Street will breathe new life into the downtown.
Given the latest extension of development agreements, it seems unlikely, in the event the Shipway project doesn't go forward, that an alternative development would be started before the end of the mayor's first term.
The mayor's bet on resuscitating the long unsuccessful redevelopment agency, which his predecessor had pledged to abolish, is not looking very promising right now.
This is the opinion of David Collins.
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