For Sale: A possibly unusable wedge of land originally intended for use as part of a highway exit ramp, a project later abandoned. Possible uses include, um ... potential buyers should possess creativity and imagination.
Sixty-seven properties, some smaller than 2,000 square feet and some as large as several acres of waterfront land, are up for sale by a very motivated seller: The state of Connecticut.
While the state's larger unused properties such as the old Bristol Armory and the former Litchfield County Jail are more well-known, dozens of tiny, seemingly useless parcels are being marketed in hope of raising much-needed cash.
The state Office of Policy and Management website, www.ct-surplus-property.com, has become a clearinghouse for surplus properties of varying sizes, without use of an outside commercial broker as a sales agent. While selling surplus properties is not a new venture for the state, the legislature in August renewed a push to market these unused pieces of land to fill gaps in the state's budget.
The goal is to bring in $45 million next year from the current property list — a target the OPM spokesman called aggressive.
But what, exactly, would one do with a landlocked 0.17 acre stretch of land adjacent to a highway?
"I guess this exercise will tell us what people will do with these properties," said the spokesman, Jeffrey Beckham. "Some are quirky and will be difficult to market."
Beckham acknowledges that the amount of "red tape" associated with a purchase of these state-owned remnants is much greater than with a typical property sale.
"Everything will have to be approved by a number of state departments, committees and the General Assembly," he said. "It all depends on how much the locals care."
Once a property goes from being state-owned to privately owned, the new owner would need to comply with local zoning rules. And many of these sites can only be purchased by an abutting property owner.
These quirky pieces of land become available when a state project — often in the Department of Transportation — requires the purchase of private property, which is then no longer needed once the project is completed. Some, which have no rights of way, are only offered to abutting owners who might, for example, want to increase the size of a property to receive specific zoning rights.
"When the remnants become available, the abutting owners are sent a letter offering the land for sale," said Terry Obey, division chief of property management for DOT. "More often than not, the buyer just doesn't like his neighbor and doesn't want his neighbor to get it."
At the corner of Black Rock Avenue and Wooster Street in New Britain, a parcel of two-tenths of an acre was acquired in the 1960s for the expansion of Route 72, but was not needed. Bill Carroll, business development coordinator for the New Britain Chamber of Commerce, said he received an inquiry about it from a landscaper wanting to park a truck there.
The trouble with that idea, said Steve Schiller, a planner for the city, is that the parcel is in a residential zone.
"There's really not a lot you can do with the property," Carroll said. "It's not a prized possession."
•Information on the properties for sale and how to bid on them is available at www.ct-surplus-property.com. Some have deadline dates for bids; others are open-ended.