By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
HARTFORD â€” The oldest surviving skyscraper in downtown Hartford â€” the 1921 Hartford-Connecticut Trust Co. building â€” will now get a use for the 21st century.
The 17-story, brick-and-limestone edifice at the corner of Main Street and Central Row has been sold for $4.3 million to Stark Office Suites, a New York company that leases â€śflexibleâ€ť office space.
Traditionally, landlords build out space for tenants, ink leases of three to five years and provide finished empty space. Stark offers spaces for quick occupancy that are either furnished or partly furnished; opportunities to share spaces such as conference rooms; and the option to move to different suites within the building if a tenant expands or downsizes.
â€śIt's a full-service package that goes beyond what a traditional landlord offers,â€ť Stark's president, Adam J. Stark said.
Tenants can also use space in nine other Stark properties in Manhattan, the wider New York metro area and Fairfield County.
Stark said he wasn't necessarily looking to purchase in downtown Hartford, having read about the city's financial troubles. But once he visited, Stark said he was impressed by apartment conversions, the opening of the University of Connecticut campus and Dunkin' Donuts Park.
â€śI feel that the urbanization trend is behind New York in Hartford, but the timing to get involved was right,â€ť Stark said.
The purchase of the 130,000-square-foot building in Hartford â€” sandwiched between the Old State House and the Travelers Tower â€” is the first property Stark Office Suites owns. The other properties in its portfolio are controlled under master leases, Stark said.
Stark said his company, founded in 2004, plans to bring fiber-optic technology to the building.
He declined to say how much Stark will invest in upgrades, but indicated it will be â€śnorth of a million over several years.â€ť
The price paid by Stark is well above the $1.5 million paid in 1998 by the seller, Boxer Properties of Houston. Stark said the office tower now is 75 percent occupied.
A focal point of the building is an arcade of tall, round-arched windows in the base that is repeated near the top of the structure. The top of the building was intended to resemble a Roman temple.
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