Prominent Landlord in Hartford Buys Historic “Flat Iron” Building, a Critical Link Connecting City’s Downtown to Northern Neighborhoods

Kenneth R. Gosselin

Published On February 13, 2020

HARTFORD, CT — A New York real estate owner and developer, which has established a major presence in downtown Hartford in the past five years, has purchased the historic, yet decaying “Flat Iron” building on the northern edge of downtown.

A commercial real estate owner and developer prominent in Hartford has purchased the historic, Flat Iron building on Ann Uccello Street. (Kenneth R. Gosselin / hc)

Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC, of Brooklyn, N.Y., acquired the building at 529-543 Ann Uccello St. for $300,000 and a neighboring lot at 525 Ann Uccello St. for $100,000, city records show.

“Shelbourne’s business plan is to acquire and revitalize properties in Hartford’s central business district in order to rejuvenate and better connect downtown to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Ben Schlossberg, Shelbourne’s managing member, said, in a statement. “The acquisition of 525 and 529 Ann Uccello is an important component of our long-term plans to organically invest in the capital city.”

Shelbourne -- also part of a partnership redeveloping the south side of downtown’s Pratt Street -- said the plans for the Flat Iron building are expected to include a renovation to create new housing. Shelbourne did not specify a timetable.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Wednesday Shelbourne has not approached the city with its plans for the building.

The brick, 3-story building over storefront space is near the intersection of Main Street and Albany Avenue, considered crucial to fostering a connection between downtown and the neighborhoods to the north.

The stretch also is on the northern edge of the planned Downtown North project and could become a separate but contiguous redevelopment area.

The city of Hartford has owned the building with the now-closed Arrowhead Cafe since last year. A vacant lot, at right, also owned by the city, replaced a demolished building destroyed by fire. The Flat Iron building is visible in the background. (Kenneth R. Gosselin)

The city already has acquired properties in the area. The properties include the building that once had the Arrowhead Cafe as a tenant and the lot on the corner of Ann Uccello and Main where a fire destroyed another building.

The Flat Iron building, built in 1896 and designed in a rectangular shape and in the tradition of the iconic Manhattan skyscraper, became more visible from Main Street after the fire-damaged building was demolished. The building was designed by architect Frederick R. Comstock.

Shelbourne’s acquisition follows a recent, failed plan for new apartments in the building by a development partnership from Brooklyn, N.Y. Those plans by Brian Corriette and his business partner, Omar Wala, who operated under the name The ZAACO Group, failed to get off the ground, They lost the building in a foreclosure in 2018, court documents show.

The building and the lot were most recently owned by a partnership whose principals included Farmington real estate and tax attorney Michael D. Reiner. Reiner did not respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment.

Since 2014, Shelbourne and Schlossberg have acquired some of downtown’s most recognizable office towers, including 20 Church Street, the “Stilts Building” and Metro Center. Last year, Shelbourne partnered with LAZ Investments to purchase One Financial Plaza, the “Gold Building.

Shelbourne acquired properties along the south side of Pratt Street and, along with partners, have embarked on a revitalization including apartment conversions and new storefront space.

In December, when it acquired an office building at the corner of Main Street and Charter Oak Avenue, Shelbourne predicted it would acquire ten downtown properties in 2020.