Harbour Towers condo owners: Tagliatela actions "unethical and unscrupulous"

The Tagliatela family's proposed apartment complex on New London's Howard Street, Shipway 221, has been hailed by Mayor Michael Passero as a great lynchpin of downtown redevelopment, one that will help "rewrite the standing" of the city in the state.

Also on hand to praise the Tagliatelas at a celebration of the Shipway project in 2017, when Passero said it was going to change the demographics of New London, was Linda Mariani, president of the Renaissance City Development Association, who predicted the planned Tagliatela project on Howard Street was going to be the "spark" for new development in Fort Trumbull, the first groundbreaking there in 17 years.

Well it turns out the people who bought condominiums from the Tagliatelas' first project in the city, Harbour Towers on Bank Street, have a lot less complimentary things to say about the New Haven-based developers.

Indeed, in a lawsuit filed in January, the condo owners, acting as the Harbour Towers Homeowners Association, accused the Tagliatelas of an assortment of deceptive and improper practices in the way they managed the development, making false and misleading statements about the condominium's finances.

"The activities of (the Tagliatelas) constitute unfair and deceptive practices and the activities violated public policies or were unethical and unscrupulous and caused substantial injury," the condominium owners said in the complaint of their lawsuit.

The owners say the developers never brought unit owners onto the management board, as required when the number of privately-owned units surpassed one third of the total of the project and then missed the deadline for turning the whole management association over to the owners.

And while the developers continued to manage the building, they were not transparent and were misleading about costs, paid excessive management fees to a non-registered property manager and fees from building funds, "engaging in self-dealing and conflicts of interest," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed soon after the Tagliatelas essentially abandoned what had become a failed project.

At the end of 2017, they gave away 21 of the apartments, over a third of the total of 52, which remained unsold eight years after they were built. They were donated to the University of New Haven, a gift that will presumably become a tax deduction.

That giveaway had to be a blow to any apartment owners in the building who might ever hope to sell.

If the developer couldn't sell the apartments, the university presumably won't be able to do much better, without a fire sale. And a fire sale will only lower the property values in the rest of the building.

I never heard back from a message I left with attorney Amanda Sisley of Norwich, who represents the condo owners. I suppose she probably thinks the lawsuit speaks for itself.

I also did not hear back from the lawyer for the Tagliatelas, Kevin Shea of New Haven.

I also left a message for Stephen Tagliatela, a managing partner of the Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook, who is a defendant in the Harbour Towers lawsuit. I didn't hear from him either.

It was interesting timing that brought to New London this week a screening of the movie "Little Pink House," which tells the story of the way the Fort Trumbull neighborhood was cleared by eminent domain by the agency now called Renaissance City.

And Renaissance City, with some of the same leadership in place, after all these years, is planning what it hopes to be its first new building, a project with developers whom a large number of city taxpayers say treated them unethically and unscrupulously.

It's decision making from an historically insensitive and inept redevelopment agency, which Mayor Passero has resuscitated with generous new funding from the city budget and a paid berth for a former campaign manager.

Some things really never do change around here.

This is the opinion of David Collins



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