BLT, Stamford’s largest developer, appears to be violating its agreement for 21 Pulaski St.

Twenty One Pulaski Street is a battle scene.

On 14 acres just south of Interstate 95, it was individual versus government, little man versus big developer.

Now, although the small parcel has been scaled back to make way for a wider road, and the house built there in 1916 is finished, 21 Pulaski Street is back in action.

This time it’s a city opposite Charter Communications, a Fortune 500 company that provides cable, internet, and phone services in 41 states.

The 900,000-square-foot Charters Glass Home at 400 Washington Street. It is one of the largest offices ever built in Connecticut, with a 14-story building offering views of Long Island Sound and the Manhattan skyline, and a nine-story sister building.

The charter headquarters abuts 21 Pulaski Street and dwarfs the three-story, century-old Victorian where Roland Lesperance used to house his family and rent apartments.

During the construction of the charter complex, the building and land development company knocked on Lesperance’s door more than once to offer a complete purchase. But Lisperance did not like the price.

Lesperance could do little, though, when the city knocked on its doors, implying that it could use its power in the eminent domain to seize his property, for a negotiated price, for the greater good.

In this case, the public interest was to expand Pulaski Street and Washington Boulevard to ease congestion around the nearby train station and Interstate 95, and improve access to Waterside and the South End, two rapidly growing neighborhoods.

Lesserance said the city had not given him enough to buy a new home for his family and to make up for the income he might lose from his rental apartments.

He fought the city plan with the support of members of the House of Representatives who hated the idea of ​​the government taking someone’s house.

But, towards the end of 2020, a deal was struck. The city purchased 21 Pulaski Street from Lesserance for $825,000, according to property records, and then used the land to expand the streets.

This solved the BLT problem because the Lesperance house was demolished and out of the way.

But there was a wrinkle.

The road expansion project left a rectangle of property at 21 Pulaski Street that runs to the middle of the Charter Communications complex.

So, in May 2021, the city made a deal with Charter on the lot it now owns at 21 Pulaski Street. The deal allows Charter to incorporate the parcel into its complex as long as Charter agrees to “classify, coordinate and maintain” it for general use at no cost to the City.

Last year, that was what the city thought the charter developer, BLT, would do, COO Matt Quinones told the House Land Use Committee at its July meeting.

“The agreement was about green spaces for public use,” Quinones said.

But South End residents this summer began emailing city officials photos of what was really going on at 21 Pulaski Street BLT, pouring concrete and building walls, steps, paths and columns, Quinones told the commission.

It’s a job that requires permits, Quinones said. But late last month, the Department of Construction, which he oversees, searched for permits and found none. So the department issued a stop-work order.

City delegate Annie Summerville wanted to know if the BLT could be punished for violating its agreement and working without permits.

“What are the repercussions?” Summerville asked. “That’s the talk of the town now.”

That’s because this isn’t the first time the city has issued stop-work orders to BLT, which is rebuilding 80 acres in the South End on a multibillion-dollar project called Harbor Point.

The controversy began in October 2011, when BLT fired another boatyard operator operating in Stamford, then the largest in the Northeast. Two months later, BLT tore down shipbuilding buildings on the 14-acre South End Peninsula, in violation of a 2007 public development plan for Harbor Point. The plan stipulated that the shipyard would operate continuously, even during construction.

The boatyard is protected by city zoning regulations and the state’s Coastal Zone Management Act.

So it wasn’t surprising that city representatives would react to the news that BLT — Stamford’s largest developer and largest property owner — appears to be violating its agreement for 21 Pulaski St.

Sherwood MP Nina Sherwood said, during the meeting, that the only property owned by Lisperance was in the building that had not been sold to BLT.

“It appears that the developer was using the authority of the government (the eminent domain) to be able to seize this property,” Sherwood said. “The fear was that this developer would walk his way and take over the property because, what is the city going to do with a random piece of property versus a massive building?”

It seems clear, Sherwood said, “that BLT felt…we can do whatever we want.”

“Anyone from this company happens to be listening to this,” city representative Sean Boeger addressed.

“This is the exact kind of behavior that creates the atmosphere where we find ourselves at odds and in a lot of panic about the activities going on in the South End. I personally find it absolutely awful,” Boger said. This is not their property and they have started pouring massive amounts of concrete on top of it.”

“They are qualities of an entity that does not think the rules apply to them,” Buger said.

There were no requests for comment from a BLT spokesperson.

After the meeting, Quinones said he is in discussion with the city’s attorney about possible penalties. Quinones said he had no offer from BLT to buy 21 Pulaski Street and had no idea what the developer was building there.

“What they did is not consistent with what was agreed upon,” Quinones said. “Now the dynamic changes…we have to ask what treatment is best for the audience. Are we going back to what was agreed upon? Are there alternatives that would lead to something better for the audience? We don’t have a clear perspective on that yet. It will lead the conversation forward.”

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