Town looks
to buy
88 Main
By Linda Lemmon
Town Crier Editor
PUTNAM — Downtown’s crown jewel, 88 Main, will have life breathed back into it if approved by electors at a September town meeting.
The town is proposing using funds in the town’s economic development trust fund to purchase 88 Main. The special town meeting will convene via Zoom at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 for discussion only and will then be recessed to curbside voting from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 10 in the Town Hall parking lot.
In the last 25 years, the building has run the gambit from decrepit with a side of pigeons in the windows to two developers’ attempts where, according to Mayor Barney Seney, “all the ducks weren’t in a row.”
Delpha Very, economic development and Putnam Redevelopment Agency director, said: Do we want to sit on it for the next 25 years or do we want to get something done.”
The town proposes using $225,000 in the economic development trust fund to buy 88 Main from the state. Very and Seney both stressed the funds are already sitting in the trust fund and “no local tax money will be used for the purchase”
The state had invested some $400,000 into structural and façade rehabilitation. A few years ago John DiIorio bought the building. He obtained grants/loans from the state of Connecticut and the state put a lien on the property to secure that. DiIorio later changed his mind about moving his company into the building and the building sat. The state exercised its lien. The state is motivated — the $225,000 is below what the state was owed and the current appraisal of the property is $385,000, according to Very.
For the continued revival and success of the town, Very said it’s in the best interests for the town to continue revitalization of the downtown area.
In conversations with the community, revitalization of downtown was near the top of the list and “obviously that building is part of that,” Very said. “We need to bring the best projects forward for that.”
Very said that the turnaround would be “very quick” — less than two months. Once the deal is closed she said there are three possibilities.
1) Solicit developers to do the build out; 2)  The town could pursue grants and do the build out itself; 3)  Or sell the building and be the mortgage holder. Very said this option would generate interest that would replenish the economic development trust fund.
The Putnam Redevelopment Agency, which started after the Flood of 1955, has already done a similar project. In the ‘80s the Montgomery Ward building was brought back to life with the program.
Seney said that the Putnam Redevelopment Agency taking the reins would better the chances of getting solid responses on Request for Proposals and improve the town’s chance of getting grants. He added he believes the state Economic Development Commission has grant/loan money available.
Because Putnam is in an economic distressed district, the property would attract buyers — there is significant tax relief that comes with the designation, Seney said. “It would make it even more viable,” he added.
Seney said he believes the best use would be retail with office space above.
Dexter Properties, LLC, (Dexter Properties LLC) purchased the building from Christopher Mark Oct. 19, 2009.
Very said the town would like to see viable tenants into that property after 25 years. “No building is happy unless people are in it,” she said. “We need people to see merchandise and activity in those windows.”


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