Amid uproar from business community, Hartford councilman withdraws proposal to fine landlords for vacant storefronts

FEB 09, 2021  11:37 AM

HARTFORD — A proposal to issue fines against vacant storefronts in Hartford roiled the business community downtown, prompting the city councilman behind the idea to take it off the table.

Councilman John Gale said he deserved some of the blame for the swift opposition that formed against his resolution, which would have labeled vacant storefronts as blight. He said he stood by the purpose of the plan, which was to spur landlords downtown to lower their rents or get creative about how they fill street-level, retail spaces that have sat empty for years.

“The intent of this ordinance is to boost activity in Hartford and not to diminish it,” Gale said of the failed proposal, which was co-sponsored by Working Families Party members Wildaliz Bermudez and Joshua Michtom. “There’s no intent to penalize anyone.”

But business and property owners said that’s exactly what it would do.

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