A unanimous vote by the City Council to decline the chance to buy the former Armory building on Center Street makes it likely the state will sell the massive structure for $305,000 to local attorneys who aim to create a skating center there.
The two lawyers, Alfred Morrocco and Joel Cohen, were the high bidders for the 61 Center St. structure. There were at least two other bidders, state officials said.
Morrocco and Cohen said they are aiming to put an inline skating rink in the former gymnasium. Cohen said there would also be three restaurants and other activities. He said a day care facility is also possible.
The lawyers had planned a similar facility on Broad Street a decade ago that fell through.
Mayor Art Ward said it is going to be "very, very expensive to rehabilitate this building."
But Morrocco said he's sure that it can be done. Both he and Cohen said they would fix the roof, update the electrical system and make other necessary renovations.
It remains unclear where people would park when coming to the rink. Cohen said, though, that they've got a plan.
The Armory only has six parking spaces and street parking is limited in the area.
Before Armory Associates, the attorneys' firm, can buy the property, state lawyers have to review the deal and the contract terms. It will likely take months.
Gov. Jodi Rell decided to sell the Armory, which was vacant, in a bid to bring in extra revenue for the state, which is facing a fiscal meltdown.
Ward said in the past, the city would have been given the chance to buy it for $1. Instead, the city could only have it if it offered more than the attorneys.
The mayor said, though, that the Armory isn't needed for municipal use and isn't worth having even for $1 because of the repair tab associated with the historic building.
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