MERIDEN — A New Haven-based partnership was the top bidder at $250,000 in a bankruptcy auction for two buildings, 9-11 and 13-17 Colony St., Wednesday.
Mendel Paris, founder of Havn Ventures, and Chani “Johnny” Grunblatt, of Malbec Enterprises LLC, were among the four bidders that attended the bankruptcy auction at the rear of the properties on Railroad Avenue. City Manager Timothy Coon and Economic Development Director Joseph Feest also attended.
The court-approved bankruptcy sale was facilitated to forego a foreclosure action the city filed against property owner CBD Colony St. LLC for about $96,000 in back taxes and liens owed on the properties.
Paris and Grunblatt’s bid must be approved by the city and the bankruptcy court before it can be finalized, according to Oren Klein, of AuctionAdvisors. The auctioneers will receive 10 percent of the final bid for marketing the buildings to regional investors in advance of Wednesday’s auction.
Paris and Grunblatt are no strangers to Meriden. They recently purchased 51 Colony St., 1-3 Colony St. and 21-23 Colony St. and if approved, will own a significant row of properties downtown.
Downtown landlord and Meriden Planning Commission member Ross Gulino, owner of 5 Colony St., raised the bidding on 9-11 and 13-17 Colony during Wednesday’s auction from $200,000 to $230,000. Paris and Grunblatt outbid Gulino at $250,000.
Auctioneers did not put a value on the buildings but court documents set it at $300,000. City assessments are over $400,000 for both buildings.
“We want to do some multi-family units,” Paris said after the auction. “The city wants some more units here. We are still in talks with the city and working with an architect to do a feasibility study on the commercial uses. We want to bring some life into the corridor here.”
Paris said the city was going through a transformation of development, but for some reason Colony Street was neglected.
“It was begging for someone to do it,” he said. “It’s too small for a bigger developer. As a middle-sized developer, we’ve done projects like this in the past.”
Grunblatt is also excited about the Meriden project and restoring the historic buildings.
“We’ll be bringing some life back to Colony Street,” Grunblatt said. “Some of the buildings here are beautiful and historic. You have the beautiful new train station and the beautiful Green. With the updates and new management, it’s going to be beautiful.”
Feest, the economic development director, was pleased with the interest shown at the auction and has had discussions with Paris and Grunblatt about their plans.
“Downtown has been ripe for redevelopment for a long time,” Feest said. “This is hopefully the turning point that we can get behind and see some good movement and get things going.”
But Feest also encouraged residents to acknowledge some of the successes downtown such as La Poblanita grocery, Downtown Coffee Shop and other small businesses on West Main Street.
“Do we still have more to go? Yes, but it’s come a long way from where it used to be,” he said.
A bankruptcy court hearing to approve or reject the top bidder is expected later this month.