Architectural Gem In Downtown Hartford Office Market Going To Auction

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An architectural gem near Hartford’s Union Station is going on the auction block next month, following a lengthy foreclosure.

179 Allyn Street, Hartford

The six-story building at 179 Allyn Street in Hartford is going on the auction block. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

The office building at the corner of Allyn and High streets — designed by the same architects as the city’s historic Goodwin Hotel — will be sold in an auction Nov. 14, according to the auction house conducting the sale.

The six-story building, known as The Professional Building, has street-level retail, including the Nv Nightclub and the Black Bear Saloon. It was built in the 1880s in a combination of the Romanesque and Renaissance Revival style with ornamental terra cotta panels.

Sheldon Good & Co., the auction house, said the 70,000-square-f00t building is nearly 80 percent vacant. The minimum bid is $1.5 million; the original mortgage on the property was $4.2 million.

Mark L. Troen, the auction house’s chief operating officer, said he expects bids from two types of purchasers: those that want to occupy a portion of the building and lease out the rest; and real estate investors who will lease to other tenants.

Street-level colonnade at 179 Allyn St. in downtown Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

In 2000, the structure was purchased for $1.1 million, and the new owners pursued a major renovation. The work included restoring the exterior architectural details, which had fallen into disrepair. Stucco that had long covered a street-level colonnade was removed, revealing columns with ornately cast capitals. Updates also were made to building systems.

The building, known as 179 Allyn St. but also carries the address of 53-59 High St., was sold in 2004 for $2.3 million to SKAR LLC. SKAR’s principals were Shawn Carlin and Robert Sandell. Sandell was an aggressive purchaser of apartments in Hartford five years ago.

Ornamental terra cotta panels at 179 Allyn St., Hartford. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

A year later, Carlin and Sandell refinanced a $4.2 million mortgage on the property, according to online records maintained by The Warren Group. The mortgage went into default in November, 2008 and fell into foreclosure in April, 2009, court records show.

A Superior Court judge in July, 2010 ordered the property be repossessed by the lender, Citibank. The owners appealed but withdrew that appeal in May, 2011.

The appeal was withdrawn as Allyn Street Management LLC of Lakewood, N.J. purchased a package of soured loans from Citibank, including the one on 179 Allyn St., Troen said.

Allyn Street Management subsequently took control of the building through negotiations with SKAR that transferred ownership to them but allowed SKAR to avoid a formal foreclosure. Warren Group records show SKAR received $500,000 as a result of the negotiations.

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27 thoughts on “Architectural Gem In Downtown Hartford Office Market Going To Auction

  1. Peter

    It seems like everything in Downtown Hartford is closing, atleast all of the major buildings/skyscrapers. What a. Oh, well. I remember there was a Sports bar and another club that was Raunchy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Laz buys it to make YET another Parking lot charging tons of money to park for the week.

    1. Don Reder

      Peter,
      Laz already owned the building for a few years. I was a tenant there from 1983 – 2001 and went through a half dozen or more owners. Laz was one of the best but my guess is that he probably doesn’t want to own it again.

  2. sue

    I don’t understand it. Hasn’t DANNY BOY made CT a great place to be. Someone once said you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. Guess DANNY BOY ain’t fooling anybody. He is a clown and is waiting for that Federal Judgeship from Barrack

  3. Roger Bontemps

    Office buildings without parking are near worthless, Hartford’s taxes choke property owners, it is not even worth buying real etate within the city.

    1. Rob

      Stupid would be voting for a Governor that increased personal and corporate taxes, gave hundreds of millions in corporate welfare to companies already doing business in CT, and guaranteed no layoffs to state employees. Gee, why are revenues down and unemployment up?

  4. Maggie

    The is a beautiful building & I sincerely hope that it won’t be torn down, only to create another gaping hole in Hartford’s downtown tapestry. It would be wonderful to re-create the vibe from the late 70s/early 80s that made this area a great place to be. I agree, the taxes in the city make it close to impossible to survive, hence the lack of retail and the excruciatingly slow progress at Front Street. Sorry to see this, very sorry indeed.

  5. Jimmy Boggs

    Maybe the state pension fund will invest in this building (see Francico Borges and the Goodwin investment)too and fully gut the inside leaving only 20 feet of original facade for the sake of “restoration.”

    Hartford Aholes.

  6. Richard

    Apartments over the bars are the answer, Maybe one professional floor in between with shared office space to be used as a state incubator for hi-tech projects funded by CT Innovations or state hi-tech initiative.

    1. mike

      first off, This is my absolute favorite building in Hartford!

      I agree Richard! But I think 470 Asylum was gonna do an incubator or something. Apartments or condos over the bars would be good. What this building really needs though…. Is something to be built across the street from it, or next door or caty cornered…

      I hope that the commuter rail/busway will make some kind of transit oriented development viable on those vacant parcels.

  7. Catspaw

    “Records show the property was transferred to the Allyn Street Management LLC that same month for $500,000.”

    $500,000.00 for 70,000 sq ft, $7.14 per square foot? And what does that mean?

  8. Catspaw

    “Allyn Street Management subsequently took control of the building through negotiations with SKAR that transferred ownership to them but allowed SKAR to avoid a formal foreclosure. Warren Group records show SKAR received $500,000 as a result of the negotiations.”

    Sorry, it’s me, I cannot follow.

    ASM has control of the building by paying SKAR $500,000. That sounds as if the bad loans were sold and ASM owns the building for $500,000 or $7.14 per square foot?

    Isn’t that a wicked bargain? Look at the parking and the Park a block away. Tell us more Mr. Gosselin!

    1. larry

      It seems from the story that ASM paid Citibank to purchase the loans, and then paid SKAR for control (ownership)…

  9. Sam

    At one time this building was mostly occupied by doctors, including my father from 1946-1960. It was a beautiful and prestigious building. There was a pharmacy on street level, the Professional Pharmacy, owned by George Koppleman, with a lunch counter serving terrific burgers.Hopefully this gem can be saved, maybe converted to apartments.

    1. Catspaw

      It would be interesting to read your recollections, if any, of the interiors. At that time did the building operate with manned elevator operators? From your memory, what would the floor plan lend itself to for ongoing preservation and best use? (The recent refit may have already taken best use into account.)

      1. Sam

        I remember that there was an elevator operator. I have not been in there for over 50 years but recall the building was beautifully maintained and very prestigious. Across High St.on the corner of Allyn was the Hotel Vendome. In the 1950’s the Professional Barber Shop was there. My father’s longtime barber there was Freddy Guardo who became the State Barber Commissioner. Diagonal on High St. was a diner and next to that at the Corner of Church & High was Harry Byron’s Esso station where a lot of the tenants of the Professional Building parked.

        Like 410 Asylum, 179 Allyn should be preserved.

    2. Kenneth R. Gosselin Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Sam.

      Do you have any photos from the era when your father had his office in the building? I would like to post them on my blog, if you would be willing to share them.

      1. Catspaw

        Mr. Gosselin:

        Please comment in re the numbers below?

        ASM has control of the building by paying SKAR $500,000. That sounds as if the bad loans were sold and ASM owns the building for $500,000 or $7.14 per square foot?

        Here’s the point; raw enclosure at $14,280.00 for a 2000sq ft space, or 35 like sized units as condos would be awesome. Even add $100,000 improvements per unit via a single contractor would be $150,000 finished for 2000 sq ft downtown.

        What’s missing from the numbers here? On the face it looks like a home run for even the mathematically impaired.

        1. mike

          Well if you can get the building for 1.5M and that 2001 reno left it is good shape, you still have a ton of work…

          residential requires seperate meterable water for every bathroom and kitchen on every floor.
          also you would need to redo electric completely and fire code has different requirements entirely from office..

          not sure the costs of all that, and if there is asbestos or anything, but if you can put 5 million into those items, I think its a possibility to sell about 50 units at around 150K each and eek out a slight profit. but deliver plain stark spaces. I do however think that the state CRDA would provide some grant money or zero interest loans and you could put together a better project with their help and still likely make a little money on the end sale. BUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTT… The condo market is essentially non existant in Hartford right now, so you would need to find a very brave bank!

      2. Sam

        I don’t have any pictures but a lot of memories. My father’s office was on the top floor, the 6th, in the southeast corner. I do remember a skylight that went all the way down to the ground floor right outside his office. My good friend, Dan Marshall, who still practices medicine in Bloomfield, had an office on the 5th floor.

  10. Don Reder

    I opened my office there in 1983 and, during renovations, brought my mother to the building. Her first question was whether I recognized the building. “Or course I do,” I said, “I was here yesterday.” She then told me that I had been in that building many times because my pediatrician was there as were many other doctors, hence it’s name as The Professioinal Building. Hartford’s long-time Professional Barber Shop was on the first floor. I moved out in 2001 and, sadly, despite various owners’ efforts to get new life into it, I’m not sure it is meant to me at this point. But I enjoyed my time in the building, Coach’s Restaurant on the first floor and being part of the (fringe) downtown scene. Apartment may be a better option since there clearly aren’t too many business people who want their offices there.

  11. Teeheehaha

    I agree it is a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing structure. I agree with what someone commented of turning it into apartment units or even much needed condos.

  12. Tuxedocat

    We bailed out the predatorial lenders but we did nothing to help sustain these properties. Is it any wonder our cities and state economy is so disasterous? This is the state where Colonial Realty destroyed the real estate market and conditions long before Madoff. The Colonial Realty’s true “architects” got away with a slap on the wrist and a measly pay-out from their insurance company, and they were back in business the next day. They’re still lurking in the dark corners of the Capitol wrecking havoc. Our state legislators look to Washington for solutions because they’re either too limited in abilities or hampered by special interests to do anything innovative to turn this Titanic around. Dan Malloy is well aware of all of this and has to navigate some pretty treacherous waters so it’s not clear how dirty he is himself or if he’s just ham-strung by our corrupt political machinery which is still very much in place. Oh yes…the Death Star is quite operational… Only when we “out” and reject these tired old schemes can we halt the destruction and rebuild our economy. Self-funded, non-career politicians are starting to look pretty good right now…

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