Though recent talks with one prospective buyer appear to have fallen through, a local builder now is putting in an offer on a deteriorating antique home on God’s Acre, officials said Thursday.
Long vacant and tied up for years in foreclosure proceedings that have stalled its transfer, the 1780-built Greek Revival-style home at 4 Main St., if sold to an active owner, could be restored to prominence and in New Canaan’s designated historic district, according to the volunteer commission that oversees it.
The Historic District Commission’s job now is to encourage the upkeep of the property there, and should consider requesting that the town get involved, Janet Lindstrom, the group’s acting chairman, said at a regular meeting.
“I would like to to go the town and say, ‘Is there something we can do?’ Because to have that in the center of our district is really, really terrible,” Lindstrom said at the meeting, held at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Town House, just two doors up the hill from the .43-acre property in question.
A member of the commission, Tom Nissley, last year had contacted homeowner Dr. James Talbot and received permission to have someone mow the lawn there, Lindstrom said.
“And as you know the town can come in and do that [yard work], but that would get into the problem of more liability for the person who wants to buy it,” she said.
The prospect of a builder—Lindstrom did not identify the party—coming in to acquire and restore the house marks the latest development in a conspicuous, historic New Canaan structure that’s been left to sit and visibly fall apart while tied up in multiple layers of court proceedings.
In 2013, a local couple, whose detailed plans for restoring the 10-room, 7,000-square-foot home had been looked on favorably by the commission, made an offer on the home that had been accepted by the bank. Two months later, officials reported that Talbot had rejected that offer.
In January, the commission reported that the home was under contract and pending, but according to Lindstrom, that fell through.
Commissioner Terry Spring said at the meeting that “the big problem” is that Talbot “is not reducing the cost of the property at all” and ignored data about declining real estate values.
Last July, a civil court issued a judgment of foreclosure by sale on the property, according to records on file with the Connecticut Judicial Branch. In October, Talbot appealed that decision, and it isn’t clear when those proceedings will conclude.
Talbot’s lawyer in the appeal, Frank Lieto of Norwalk-based Goldman Gruder & Woods, LLC, could not be reached for comment.
The Bank of New York Mellon had filed a civil lawsuit in July 2012, naming Talbot as a defendant, court records show. According to a copy of the lawsuit’s complaint, Talbot had taken out a note for a loan in May 2007 in the amount of $2,280,000, and the mortgage on the property was assigned in October 2011 to The Bank of New York Mellon. The mortgage and loan went into default, according to the lawsuit. There are several liens on the property, the lawsuit says, including one from an eye care device provider with U.S. headquarters in Marlborough, Mass. that in March 2010 won a judgment of nearly $90,000 following its own civil lawsuit filed against Talbot for nonpayment of rental fees for a digital imaging system, according to a copy of that complaint.