Category Archives: Downtown Hartford

Hartford Club’s Home May Be Sold In Foreclosure Auction

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Foreclosure Sales Date:

The Hartford Club, once the gathering place for city’s elite and decision makers, faces the loss of its longtime home on Prospect Street in a foreclosure auction, court documents show.

The Hartford Club could lose its home to a forelcosure sale. Credit: John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons

The Hartford Club on Prospect Street in downtown Hartford could lose its home to a foreclosure sale. Credit: John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons

The club, founded in 1873, filed an appeal Friday of a Hartford Superior Court judge’s order, issued in January, ordering the property at 46 Prospect Street, the club’s home since 1904. be sold in a foreclosure auction. The auction is scheduled for June 28, court record show.

The foreclosure was first filed last June. The property has $1.4 million in mortgage debt, but the foreclosure deals with a $997,000 mortgage approved in 2009 by the former Connecticut Bank and Trust Co., which was acquired by Berkshire Bank in 2012.

Court documents show that a payment on the mortgage had not been made since October, 2012.

John Larson, an attorney for The Hartford Club, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment this morning.

Brien Beakey, president of the club’s board of governors, did not immediately respond to a call.

Connecticut Office Of Florida Law Firm Relocates To Hartford

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

The Connecticut office of a Florida-based law firm has relocated from Simsbury to downtown Hartford, it was announced this morning.

The firm, Tampa-based Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, has moved into the One State Street tower. A spokeswoman told me the firm has leased 15,000 square feet for 10 years and is relocating 21 employees — a dozen attorneys and 9 support staffers.

Spokeswoman Kate Barth said the space will accommodate future expansion in Hartford.

In addition to Connecticut, the firm has offices in Florida, Georgia, New York and Washington D.C. According to its web site, the firm has more than 370 attorneys and focuses on litigation practice. The firm specializes in class action, national trial practice, white collar representation.

The firm was created in a merger last fall of two firms, Carlton Fields and Jorden Burt.

Today’s announcement comes a month after accounting firm Cohn Reznick confirmed that it was also relocating from the suburbs to downtown Hartford. Cohn Reznick will consolidate offices in Glastonbury and Farmington into space at Metro Center on Church Street.

Cicchetti

Cicchetti

Anthony Cicchetti, managing shareholder of the Simsbury office, said in a release that the firm’s concentration in the insurance and financial services industries made the move to Hartford “a very natural and important step for us.”

“We are also excited about Hartford’s resurgence as a corporate center,” Cicchetti said. “We are pleased to be able to contribute to the growth and new vitality of Hartford’s central business district.”

Hartford Accounting Firm Gets Accustomed to Life 24 Stories Up

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford Date:

For a quarter century, employees of Whittlesey & Hadley looked up at the downtown Hartford towers from their offices in a three-story building on Charter Oak Avenue.

Drew Andrews, managing partner of Whittlesey & Hadley, and the view from the 24th floor. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Drew Andrews, managing partner of Whittlesey & Hadley, and the view from the 24th floor. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Now, workers at the accounting firm are getting accustomed to the view from 24  stories up.

In late December, the firm moved into the 280 Trumbull office tower after a search of space in both the city and the suburbs. (Their search included Metro Center, a block to the west, space that has subsequently been leased by another accounting firm, CohnReznick.)

Managing partner Drew Andrews told me it took some time getting used to being up in a tower, and not just for the views.

The firm is now all on one floor, rather than three. While that has its clear benefits — far less “up and down,” catching up with colleagues can be a bit more of a challenge.

For instance, when Andrews wanted to see tax partner Dave Zubrow back on Charter Oak, Andrews would just walk up a flight of stairs. Zubrow’s office was right above Andrews’.

Now, Zubrow’s office is diagonally at the farthest end of the 25,000-square-foot space at 280 Trumbull.

“I have to call him and make sure he’s at his desk before I see him,” Andrews said. “It’s like making an appointment.”

Andrews said he is looking forward to warmer weather to see the benefits of now being in the heart of downtown and the firm’s employees being able to walk to more appointments in the city.

 

 

 

 

What Apartments At Former WFSB Site In Hartford Could Look Like

by Categorized: Apartments, Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Funding for the $18 million apartment building at the former WFSB site in Hartford is falling into place, and construction could get underway this summer, the developer says.

The new, 10-story building — christened “Residences at River View” — is expected to have 48, upscale one- and two-bedroom units.

Last week, the state bond commission backed a recommendation from the Capital Region Development Authority that $5 million in state funds be spent of the project.

The builder, Abul Islam, also plans about 50,000 square feet of commercial space in the building. Islam plans to relocate his company, AI Engineers, from Middletown into the space.

What the former WFSB site looks like today:

The former WFSB site on Hartford's Constitution Plaza. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

What the site could look like in a preliminary rendering:

Residences at River View, Constitution Plaza, Hartford. Courtesy of cbt architects, Boston.

Residences at River View, Constitution Plaza, Hartford. Courtesy of cbt architects, Boston.

Infinity Hall Debuts First Music Video In Hartford Venue

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Infinity Music Hall and Bistro has posted plenty of music videos of performances at its flagship Norfolk location.

But today, Infinity Hall is debuting the first video from its Hartford location, expected to open in June or July.

The video is the first of series that’s also intended to chronicle progress on construction in the new venue.

The video features the Hartford folk rock group Wise Old Moon:

Read more here about the making of the video.

 

State Bond Commission Backs Funding For XL Center Upgrades

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment, XL Center Date:
A rendering showing the new "fan club" bar area planned for Hartford's XL Center. Credit: JCJ Architecture

A rendering showing the new “fan club” bar area planned for Hartford’s XL Center from across the arena bowl. Credit: JCJ Architecture

The State Bond Commission Friday morning backed $31.2 million for upgrades at Hartford’s aging XL Center, with construction expected to begin in late spring.

The funding is part of a $35 million package approved by the state legislature in last year’s session of the General Assembly. In December, the bond commission backed spending $1.8 million of the package on developing plans for the improvements.

My colleague Chris Keating, who covered Friday’s bond commission meeting, reports that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it makes sense to make short-term improvements now because the state does not have any immediate plans for constructing a new arena.

“What I’m trying to do is stretch a very old facility,” Malloy told reporters at the state Capitol complex. “It is one of the older facilities in the nation of its type. I’m trying to get eight to 10 years out of it, quite frankly. Right now, the air conditioning system is in failure. Other systems in the building are in failure.”

Malloy added: “There is now way we could build a replacement facility overnight or quite frankly, in the next two years, for instance. So, we either close it and have no functions being run in Hartford or we put some money into it and stretch its life.”

The $35 million also includes funding to study long-term options for the XL Center, opened in 1975 as the Hartford Civic Center. The study is expected to get underway in earnest later this year.

In addition to new mechanical systems, improvements now planned will include a new “fan club” bar area that overlooks the bowl, loge seating and an upgraded sound system. The concourse will be refurbished to include themed “nodes” at the corners, renovated restrooms and expanded concession offerings.

Construction is expected to begin in May and be mostly completed by October, in time for the beginning of the hockey and basketball seasons.

See more renderings here of planned upgrades at the XL Center.

“XL Center needs this infusion of funds to stay current with industry practices as we map out a longer term plan for the buildings future,” Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told me.

The CRDA oversees the operations of both the XL Center and The Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Last year, the CRDA hired Global Spectrum to manage both.

PLANNED XL CENTER IMPROVEMENTS
Arena Bowl:
*New fan club area overlooking the bowl
*New loge boxes
*New sound system
*Upgraded video board and scoreboard
*New LED ribbon boards
*New digital advertising signs
Concourse:
*Renovated restrooms
*New wall and floor finishes
*New lighting
*Concession area improvements
*New doors and signs at entrances
*Improved disabled accessibility
Event Level:
*Renovated Wolf Pack, UConn basketball and visiting hockey and basketball team locker rooms
*New locker room for UConn hockey
*Renovated support kitchen
*New restrooms
*Improved disabled accessibility
Mechanical Systems:
*Upgraded control system
*Repaired or replaced heating, cooling and air circulation systems
*Repaired or replaced piping systems

Source: Capital Region Development Authority

Tenant For Potential New Building Would Fit With Hartford’s Front Street

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

The Capital Region Development Authority is pushing ahead with a study to determine if it is feasible to construct a building on a parking lot in front of Hartford’s convention center.

While the CRDA has declined to identify the tenant interested in occupying the building, a member of the authority’s board told me today the tenant would match the area’s entertainment focus.

“It is a use that would fit in with what is happening on Front Street,” Thomas E. Deller, the city’s development director and a CRDA board member, said.

The Front Street entertainment district is located across the street from the convention center parking lot. Front Street now has a movie theater and an upscale steakhouse. Two other restaurants are expected to open this spring, with Infinity Music Hall & Bistro following in the summer.

The CRDA board Thursday approved using up to $30,000 in state economic development funds for studying development of the parking lot. The study is expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks, CRDA executive director Michael W. Freimuth told me today.

The study will determine, among other things, if a building can be constructed at a reasonable cost.

One major issue is how much it might cost to deal with contamination under the site that was sealed off in the construction of the convention center, opened in 2005. Dealing with cleaning up soil could push up development costs significantly and make construction to expensive.

The parking lot was envisioned for future expansion of the convention center. Any development on the site would have to be constructed in such a way that it could be incorporated into an enlarged convention center should that become necessary in the future.

Local Band Headlines At Infinity Hall’s Hartford Venue But Not For Audience

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Although Infinity Music Hall & Bistro’s new venue in Hartford won’t open until this summer, one local band found itself headlining in the space Sunday morning.

But “Wise Old Moon”  was there for the cameras, not an audience.

Hartford folk rock band Wise Old Moon prepares for video shoot Sunday morning. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Hartford folk rock band Wise Old Moon prepares for video shoot Sunday morning. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

The Hartford folk rock group performed in the first of a handful of music videos that are expected to be shot in the space in Front Street’s entertainment district over the next couple of months. The idea is to show the progression of construction, leading up an expected opening in June or July.

“We are a music venue,” Mary Ann Clerkin, Infinity Hall’s marketing manager, told me, “and what better way to show our progress than through music.”

Clerkin asked me not to film the performance because it would take away from the debut of the Infinity Hall video, which will be posted on YouTube in a couple of weeks.

Other bands will be featured in future videos, Clerkin said.

Learn more here about Infinity Hall’s Hartford project and see a video of founder Dan Hincks.

“Wise Old Moon” won an “open mic” competition in December at Infinity Hall’s flagship venue in Norfolk. Connor Millican, one of the band’s three members, also has a fledgling video production business IdleWilde Creations — and so, the idea for the music video series was born.

Sunday morning, Millican and fellow band members, Corey Pane and Christian Schrader — all graduates of Conard High School in West Hartford — set up their instruments on what will be the mezzanine level, the main performance stage down below them.

One camera was attached to arm of a swinging boom. Another was positioned on a stationary tripod. A third was operated by a videographer moving around the space. A photographic umbrella diffused lighting.

Infinity Hall founder Dan Hincks prepares for filming an introduction to the music video. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Infinity Hall founder Dan Hincks prepares for filming an introduction to the music video. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

When filming begins, the group performs “Livin’ Ain’t Easy” with Millican on vocals and acoustical guitar; Pane on snare drum and suitcase doubling as a kick drum; and Schrader on vocals and violin.

Wise Old Moon, which takes its name from the lyrics in one of its original songs, welcomes the opportunity to perform.

“It’s a big deal not only for us but for the community around Hartford,” Millican said. “I can’t imagine what they will be doing five years from now.”

Hear Wise Old Moon perform at Infinity Hall in Norfolk in December:

 

 

 

 

 

Is Hartford Area Commercial Real Estate Market Headed For A Bump Up?

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment, northland investment corp. Date:

The commercial real estate markets in the New Yorks and L.A.s of the country have rebounded significantly since the recession, with sales, leasing and development at a healthy, if not brisk, pace.

Now, a turn may be coming for smaller “secondary” markets like Hartford, a new report this week forecasts.

The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford metro market is on a list compiled by NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, of 34 secondary markets that could see a bump up in activity this year.

Goodwin Square in downtown Hartford, lost to foreclosure in 2012, could go up for auction this year. Photo by Richard Messina/The Hartford Courant.

Goodwin Square in downtown Hartford, lost to foreclosure in 2012, could go up for auction this year. Photo by Richard Messina/The Hartford Courant.

“We will likely see this trend take hold in secondary markets,” said Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP’s president and chief executive. “If that happens, it will be real positive sign that our industry is feeling better about the economy and investment opportunities, and it will be good news for lots of medium-sized American cities.”

Patrick Mulready, senior vice president and partner at commercial real estate services firm CBRE-NE in Hartford, told me today that he wasn’t surprised Hartford area was on the list.

Major markets such as New York and Los Angeles don’t have a lot of attractive properties available for investors. The properties either recently sold or are owned by long-term investors.

“That is leading to additional interest in markets like this,” Mulready said, of Hartford.

Mulready said there was already evidence of that in 2013, with major sales in the Hartford area. Those included the $106 million sale of Blue Back Square to Starwood Capital Group. The sale was particularly noteworthy because Starwood is an institutional investor outside the market, Mulready said.

Mulready said the most attractive office buildings will be stand-outs like Downtown Hartford’s Goodwin Square, which includes the long-shuttered Goodwin Hotel. The property is expected to go up for auction this year after being lost by Northland Investment Corp. to foreclosure.

CityPlace II, also lost by Northland to foreclosure, also is expected to be sold but only after the tenant roll is boosted. CityPlace II now has a 34-percent vacancy, Mulready said, and leasing could be a challenge because space is scattered throughout the tower.

NAIOP’s list of 34 “secondary” commerical real estate markets on the cusp of a bump up:

List of Secondary Markets


Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX

Baltimore-Towson, MD

Charlotte-Gaston-Rock Hill, NC-SC

Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH

Columbus, OH

Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI

Greensboro-High Point, NC

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

Indianapolis-Carmel, IN

Jacksonville, FL

Kansas City, MO-KS

Las Vegas-Paradise, NV

Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN

Memphis, TN-MS-AR

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA

Oklahoma City, OK

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington,

PA-NJ-DE-MD

Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ

Pittsburgh, PA

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA

Raleigh-Cary, NC

Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA

Salt Lake City, UT

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

St. Louis, MO-IL

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

SOURCE: NAIOP