HARTFORD, CT — Hartford HealthCare will bring 700 employees into the heart of downtown Hartford beginning in June, part of a $24 million renovation of the office complex on the prominent corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets.
The plan is another boost to the city’s revitalization efforts and its aspirations to become a center of innovation.
The parent of Hartford Hospital and six other hospitals around the state will consolidate 400 employees from other locations into the building at 100 Pearl St. and create another 300 jobs in a new, “access center” that will eventually coordinate care and scheduling of patient visits across the health system’s 400 locations in Connecticut.
The cost of the renovations will be shared by Hartford HealthCare and the building’s owner, Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC of Brooklyn, N.Y., at up to $14 million and $10 million, respectively.
The centerpiece of the renovation is the creation of a ground floor “venture studio” with its own entrance facing the corner, patterned after the Apple glass “cube” on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In the venture studio, Hartford HealthCare’s engineers, scientists and development teams will be seen collaborating by those passing by on the street.
“The vision for this is to take this incredibly essential corner for the city of Hartford -- Pearl Street and Trumbull Street -- and bring it back to a level of vibrancy and we want to serve as a firestarter,” Jeffrey A. Flaks, Hartford HealthCare’s president and chief executive, said.
“The decision by [Hartford HealthCare] to expand their headquarters to downtown Hartford is concrete and tangible evidence of the resurgence currently taking place in the commercial core of the city,” said Michael Seidenfeld, chief operating officer of Shelbourne, downtown’s largest commercial landlord.
Other key components of the plans include:
Hartford HealthCare’s lease of 80,000 square feet -- with an option to expand to 110,000 square feet -- in the 282,000 square foot complex -- builds on revitalization momentum in recent years, including the addition of 1,350 apartments, a new minor league ballpark and a regional UConn campus.
The new rentals include Spectra on Pearl just across the street.
“What we need now are concentrations of significant employment bases in the downtown community to help support what has been created and will continue to be developed, Flaks said.
Hartford HealthCare plans to consolidate its chief investment office that manages endowments; its legal team; its office that manages business partnerships and vendor agreements; and its public relations, advertising and marketing teams in the building.
“So we are going to bring all these professionals into the city, they are going to use our restaurants, our airports, use our hotels and bring activity to city,” Flaks said.
Hartford HealthCare has been a major player in the consolidation of the health care industry in Connecticut in the past decade. Nationally, critics say it remains unclear who will be the biggest beneficiary: the health care companies or the consumer.
Flaks said the investment at 100 Pearl will free up other space for medical use and promote innovation and more efficient scheduling that will help contain costs.
“The access center is a way to drive down costs because we are able to coordinate care and put care in the right location where cost and affordability is an important aspect of decision-making,” Flaks said.
The 100 Pearl St, building tower dates to the late 1980s. It is divided into two sections: a 5-story building, where the innovation center will be, and a 17-story structure, recognizable by its azure-colored glass, the two sides joined by a common entrance off Pearl Street. In recent years, the building lost a major tenant and its vacancy soared.
The original entrance will remain, but the cube -- the entrance to the innovation center and telehealth center -- is meant to convey technological advances possible in the 21st century.
“This is an innovation city, so we are building a cube,” Flaks said.
On the top of the five-story structure, there will be a “green roof, an element Flaks says he hopes will be model for other office buildings in the city. There will be new windows with modern lines. The Hartford HealthCare name will rise above the taller building, taking its place in the downtown skyline.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin hailed the investment by Hartford HealthCare for its potential to add vibrancy and energy downtown, diagonally across from the XL Center.
This is the latest in the Hartford HealthCare’s expansion in the city. In 2016, the health care company opened its $150 million Bone & Joint Institute on its flagship Hartford Hospital campus; and late last year, it broke ground on a $70 million new wing on the hospital’s Bliss Building.
The healthcare system’s corporate headquarters is on one upper floor of One State Street on Columbus Boulevard.
Previously, Hartford Healthcare has added the Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation on its Hartford Hospital campus and the med-tech accelerator on Constitution Plaza.
“For them to take the next step forward and not just make those innovation efforts but expanding their physical footprint in the downtown as a home for those innovation efforts helps accelerate that work and make it more visible,” Bronin said.
Hartford HealthCare will also move its logisitics center in Newington, focused on coordination of patient transport by ambulance and helicopter, to 100 Pearl.
The new access center focused on patient care and scheduling is an outgrowth and will tap into Hartford HealthCare’s $250 million investment putting all its health records into one electronic system across home care, rehabilitation, behavioral health, physician offices and urgent care.
Flaks said the access center will see the bigger picture and more easily find openings for patients, reducing wait times and juggling scheduling for patients that may need multiple appointments following a diagnosis.
“We’re putting patient navigation in place and we’re using the most modern technology,” Flaks said. “The center will have full control over every schedule, every provider and every resource, meaning all of our imaging and capabilities across Hartford HealthCare.