First Selectman Calls for Building Assessment of ‘The Hub’; Failed Organization Went Years without IRS Filings


New Canaan’s highest elected official is seeking a full assessment of the former Outback Teen Center building downtown—a necessary first step, he said, in order to figure out just what to do with the cavernous structure after the town inherits it this summer.

The former Outback Teen Center lived a short, awkward life as The Hub, a failed nonprofit organization led by New Canaan's Bob Albus. Credit: Michael Dinan

The former Outback Teen Center lived a short, awkward life as The Hub, a failed nonprofit organization led by New Canaan’s Bob Albus. Credit: Michael Dinan

The condition of its HVAC system, status of elevator inspection reports and any needs that would trigger expensive work to ADA compliance remain open questions, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said.

“The town of New Canaan has had so little to do with that building, that before we have concrete next steps, we need a general assessment,” he told

Mallozzi said he has tapped the Department of Public Works’ building superintendent to look at the structure and expects an analysis in two to three weeks.

“That will begin a conversation of, ‘OK, we have a building here and we need $50,000 or $300,000 worth of work’ and ‘What is the outcome if we invest that time and energy?’ ” Mallozzi said.

The analysis marks the latest development in the strange life of The Hub, built 15 years ago to serve teens and vacant since last summer after the teen center couldn’t self-sustain and a new organization took over to re-imagine its use.

Then that new organization, apparently lacking an effective communications plan, failed to garner support in the community or government, and eventually unveiled a non-detailed business strategy that still relied on taxpayer support.

“There has been no outcry of consternation that I am aware of about this failed attempt,” Mallozzi said.

Bob Albus, a founding president of the Outback who led The Hub, presented his plan April 20 to a divided Town Council at its regular meeting. Councilmen dutifully congratulated Albus on his efforts—though it wasn’t clear just what real progress those efforts had yielded—and stopped short of committing further town funding. Albus afterwards resigned from The Hub, he said, disappointed with the outcome.

“We spent five years getting it through zoning and raised $2.2 million and it is very disheartening and disappointing to see what the whole matter has come to,” Albus said.

Saying they had re-imagined the teen center as a community center serving a wider range of residents, The Hub’s board members launched an online fundraising campaign and tried to garner support for their facility, financial and otherwise, in town government.

But the fundraising campaign barely raised $2,500—much of that from the board itself—and after town officials said last year that a $50,000 annual commitment of taxpayer funds was not realistic, they made $10,000 available to The Hub, contingent on a workable business plan that never materialized.

Albus presented to the Town Council a plan that appeared to lack basic details of revenue and feasibility. Though established health and human services-related agencies appeared in some form on the plan itself, such as Abilis and the Yale New Haven Health System, little had been done beyond offering the centrally located Hub to outside agencies for nominal fees, if any.

Albus told the Town Council that the building needed about $110,000 annually—a figure he landed on by subtracting $140,000 (marketing, programming and major staffing costs) from $250,000 in overall operating expenses.

Town council members questioned the physical appropriateness of The Hub for a day program that sees vans transport participants, given the configuration of the Playhouse parking lot, the feasibility administratively of programming for New Canaan’s health- and human services-related needs on ongoing basis and the viability of the revenue model itself.

Though the councilmen voiced support for what appeared to be incontestable statements—such as that New Canaan should support developmentally disabled residents—it was unclear whether or how that truism related to The Hub’s quest for taxpayer money. Vice Chairman Steve Karl noted that the town, without question, supports developmentally and otherwise disabled residents to a high degree each year through the municipal budget.

To the assertion that those who gave generously to fund the Outback when it was constructed somehow deserve the support of the Town Council now, councilman Cristina A. Ross responded that no, those donors supported a teen center, not this new iteration.

Even as a teen center, the building appears to have lacked basic oversight.

A look at the 990 forms that nonprofit organizations are required to file annually with the IRS shows a years-long lapse in filings by the Outback Teen Center. From 2012 on, at least three years’ worth of 990 forms appear not to have been filed at all—Albus had to do so in December, retroactively (see the date stamp on the PDF embedded below, as an example).

“There were some years where the filing was not done and when we became aware of it we corrected that, got the reports, the filings up-to-date, completed, and I had to sign them as the then-president, but I was not involved back during the periods when the filings were not completed,” he said.

The IRS imposed a late payment penalty, later retracted, he said.

Asked what The Hub intended to do with the $2,670 raised online for a project now defunct, Albus said: “We are doing our best to clean up any outstanding matters and, through our bylaws, if there is any surplus cash, to donate that to another 501(c)3 and so that money will ultimately go toward—most of that money was raised from board members and people closely aligned with the facility—and so the expectation is that it will be redistributed to other worthy causes, that is the way we are looking at handling that.”




2 thoughts on “First Selectman Calls for Building Assessment of ‘The Hub’; Failed Organization Went Years without IRS Filings

  1. It is very disappointing to learn that the Town of New Canaan now owns a building it neither wants nor needs. What an incredible blunder! I am not blaming the current town government, but rather those who agreed to this foolish possibility at the outset. We are awash in non-core real estate and its attendant cost. (think Playhouse, as another example).
    So what can be done with this big yellow albatross? Because it sits on Town land, surrounded by other Town land, it would be difficult to sell it. People will speculate endlessly about potential uses. It will sit empty for, predictably, a long time and must be looked after, at a cost. It will be an attractive nuisance. One solution: tear it down. A one time cost, relatively easy to do. Demolishing a newish building should not have environmental issues. Possible salvage. And it would add one thing the Town always says it needs: more parking. Getting bids would not cost much, if anything.
    A definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and yet expect a different result. Stop the insanity!

  2. Think we are prolonging the failure as continuously dismissing the target audience: Our teens. Get the schools involved and ask for their help to make this a sustainable NC Community Competition amongst the Saxe and HS students to come up with a winning plan. There are a lot of smart and passionate kids here, who I’m sure can think of very good ideas as to what to best do with The Hub, that also best caters to what they would use. Otherwise, while Saxe is going through renos, possibly the Hub can best used as overflow location, or also have the Y use it for a period of time as they are doing their projects?

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