Hartford’s Constitution Plaza Falls Into Foreclosure

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford Date:


The largest chunk of Constitution Plaza — owned by GE Capital and Richard Cohen — has fallen into foreclosure, after an agreement to refinance a $60 million mortgage couldn’t be reached, according to court documents.

The mortgage, taken out in 2006, came due on Jan. 1 but was extended to June 1 while the owners and the lender, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. tried to work out refinancing terms. Commercial real estate mortgages typically must be paid in full when they reach maturity or be refinanced.

A large chunk of Hartford's Constitution Plaza has fallen into foreclosure, its owners and lender unable to agree on refinancing terms. Courant file photo.

The mortgage covers the majority of the plaza but doesn’t include the former Broadcast House property, former Travelers education center or the hotel, which have separate ownership.

“The partners have been in discussion for several months to refinance but they have not been able to agree on terms,” Richard Weinstein, of Weinstein & Wisser in West Hartford, who represents GE Capital and Cohen, told me today. “We are guardedly optimistic that the business people will come to an agreement.”

Office owners still are having a tough time reaching refinancing terms in a still soft leasing market, as employers remain tentative about hiring.

But Weinstein noted today that Constitution Plaza is far from a troubled property, following extensive renovations and leasing to several marquee tenants. Most recently, Back9Network, the Hartford-based golf-lifestyle network, confirmed plans to expand to 10 Constitution Plaza and invest nearly $7 million in broadcast studios.

MetLife did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment today.

In March, GE Capital and Cohen put their share of Constitution Plaza up for sale without an asking price. Last week, in an interview, Cohen said it was GE’s decision to put the property on the market, not his. GE has the larger ownership stake.

Read more about the property going on the market here.

GE and Cohen’s Capital Properties purchased the buildings on Constitution Plaza in 1999 and have spent tens of millions on renovations. Capital Properties invested $10 million to become co-owner and took on the role of day-to-day management and oversaw redevelopment efforts.

Their properties include One and 100 Constitution Plaza — the two, high-rise towers — plus 10, 250, 260, 270, 280, 290 and 292. Together, they encompass 660,000 square feet of office and retail space on nearly seven acres, plus a 1,743-space parking garage.

The two office towers have a total of 504,000 square feet of office space and together, have an 82-percent occupancy. That’s considered quite healthy in a city where the overall downtown office vacancy rate has been at or near 30 percent in the past two years.






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4 thoughts on “Hartford’s Constitution Plaza Falls Into Foreclosure

  1. Catspaw

    “the overall downtown office vacancy rate has been at or near 30 percent in the past two years.” The Plaza seems like an excellent security for a mortgage but provides little interest for the city in general.

    The Courant tells us the thirty year long efforts of Riverfront Recapture reconnected the city with its riverfront. What a citizen may find disappointing, and may contribute to the sad reality of a 30% occupancy rate overall, is the complete lack of any restaurants or even a coffee shop at the Constitution Plaza and no other businesses are allowed to take advantage of a view.

    Clearly, as Mr. Gosselin has reported here, the 82% occupancy rate for office structures at the Plaza proves the river is our greatest natural asset. Unfortunately the river walk remains incomplete, unwelcoming and largely empty after the lunchtime crowd heads home.

    Doubtless the Science Center and Civic Center will be offered in contrast to these ideas. Unfortunately neither promotes the ordinary pleasure of riverfront options that might make our riverfront a regional destination except for the lack of any business to draw them to the tranquility of the Connecticut River.

    While we applaud a quick and beneficial resolution to the current foreclosure arrangement the empty store fronts and vacant river walk still surround Hartford’s mysteriously failed investment in its riverfront.

    Somehow Hartford has waited a decade to use this world class opportunity and there is little indication that much will change in the next ten years. Oddly, Hartford has added a highly visible cement pit at the city gateway facing the tower of stairs to the empty riverfront. Seemingly no direction is steered and Hartford’s flagship has foundered at the dock. The Busway may have been forward thinking as an efficient escape route from Hartford’s Museum of Concrete.

  2. beantownbilly

    Well, Constitution Plaza is a well constructed and attractive space suitable for upper-end retail or dining. Unfortunately, it came online as retail, resteraunts and hotels were migrating out to the burbs. This is not going to change in the forseeable future, and hopefully the wasted taxpayer subsidies wiil someday end. Busisnesses moved out of downtown because they were following their middle class and upper midle class clientelle. The demographics of downtown changed dramatically, beginning in the late fifties. The North End was home to a vibrant Jewish community, supporting a hospital, blocks of well maintained homes,retirement homes and several temples. The South End was a vibrant Itallian community famed for its restaurants and sense of community. As these folks migrated to Bloomfield, West Hartford and then further west, their business base followed. Hartford is now a sanctuary city, and the new illegal immigrant residents have little need for fine retail of dining establishments.

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