Business Government

Fintech Village Attorney: Company Not in Tax Battle with Town of West Hartford

The former UConn West Hartford library was to have been renovated, but demolition is the only way to effectively remove all of the environmental contaminants. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

A tax assessment appeal had been filed on behalf of Fintech LLC, challenging the Town of West Hartford’s assessment of property at 1700 and 1800 Asylum Ave., but the complaint filed is being withdrawn.

By Ronni Newton

An attorney for Fintech LLC, the Ideanomics subsidiary that now owns the former UConn West Hartford campus, said Monday that while his client challenged an initial assessment of the value of property the company purchased, listed as 1700 Asylum Ave. and 1800 Asylum Ave., the ensuing legal action was taken due to timing, and not because the company is engaged in a battle with the town.

“There is not a big battle currently going on between Fintech/Ideanomics with respect to this property and assessment,” attorney Paul Dorsi told We-Ha.com Monday afternoon regarding the complaint filed in May 2019.

While Dorsi said it was up to his client, he anticipated the complaint would likely be withdrawn due to changes the town had already made to the assessed value of the property.

Ideanomics CEO Alf Poor, who is also the president of Fintech Village, confirmed Monday that the complaint is being withdrawn.

“The filing was done because the deadline was approaching, just to protect our rights,” Poor told We-Ha.com. The situation was amicably resolved, he said, and the tax bill is being put through for payment.

The value of the former campus was initially questioned by UConn.

In February 2018, the University of Connecticut, which owned the property at the time, challenged the Town of West Hartford’s assessment of just over $24 million for the 1700 and 1800 Asylum Avenue parcels.

“As a state agency, UConn does not pay property taxes. However, UConn plans to sell the property and a private purchaser will be taxed on its value after acquiring it,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said in an email in February 2018. “Since the deadline to dispute the assessment is this week, the University is challenging the assessment now to preserve the yet-undetermined purchaser’s right to continue the appeal after the property changes hands.”

West Hartford Assistant Corporation Counsel Garmon Newsom said Monday that the property had been previously appraised based on its use as a college/university. Based on that use, the appraised value for the 1800 Asylum Ave. parcel – on the west side of Trout Brook Drive, where the main portion of the campus and all five buildings are located – would be about $32 million. The assessed value is 70 percent of the appraised value.

When Ideanomics purchased the property, on Oct. 10, 2018, the use had already been changed as of Oct. 1, and for tax purposes there is a lower value for “offices,” Newsom said.

West Hartford Tax Assessor Joseph Dakers said that following the change in use, the appraisal for 1800 Asylum Ave. was revised. According to town records, 1800 Asylum is now appraised at $12,528,800 and assessed at $8,770.160.

No changes were made to the appraised and assessed value of 1700 Asylum Ave., the east side of the property which includes about 24 acres of parking lot and ball fields. That appraised value remained $3,196,000 and the assessed value is $2,237,200.

Based on West Hartford’s mill rate of 41.8 mills, the total tax bill for Fintech Village is $461,107, Dakers said.

Dakers said that the change was made “in a timely manner” with the new assessment reflected in the Grand List the town used in adopting its FY2020 budget.

Dorsi said Fintech Village had originally been provided with an assessment of about $24 million for the two parcels – a value that did not yet reflect the change in use and would have resulted in a tax bill of about $1 million. The town required appeals of assessments be filed by Feb. 20, 2019, and Dorsi filed an appeal on behalf of his client.

While the revision to the assessment was still in the works based on the change of use, the Board of Assessment Appeals issued a denial, Dorsi said. He said that a legal complaint must be filed within two months of the denial, and served by a judicial marshal, and that took place on May 29.

In the meantime, the change in use went through, and Dorsi said that when he saw the tax bill for Fintech Village, the amount was based on the new assessment.

“When I got that notice I saw the value had changed, but we had already served the complaint,” Dorsi said.

Dorsi said he called the West Hartford corporation counsel’s office and explained what had happened, and said the complaint had been filed “to cover our bases.” Dorsi noted that the West Hartford assessor is “very good,” and he believes the assessed value of the property is now in line with the analysis that he provided on behalf of his client.

Last week, Ideanomics unveiled its vision for transforming the former UConn campus into Fintech Village.

Poor said that the company is preparing to submit plans to the town this week.

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