HARTFORD, CT — A downtown parking garage that was slated for demolition this year as part of the rehabilitation of One Talcott Plaza may be salvageable after all, prompting negotiations between the developer and the city.
Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the owner of four downtown office towers, plans to replace the run-down office and parking complex at the corner of Main and Talcott streets with a new parking venue to be operated by Hartford-based LAZ Parking. A year and a half ago, the city agreed to fix taxes on two of Shelbourne’s buildings, 20 Church St. and 100 Pearl St., in exchange for the company investing at least $10 million in One Talcott Plaza and paying about $3 million in back taxes on its properties at One Talcott Plaza.
Demolition of the garage was expected to begin within six months of the August 2018 agreement, and Shelbourne was meant to make significant progress on demolition and pay all of its delinquent taxes by the end of this year. However, engineering studies have shown there is a “strong possibility” that the structure can be repaired, Mayor Luke Bronin told the city council this week.
Bronin is now offering Shelbourne a six-month extension to determine whether it can renovate the garage, which was closed for safety reasons more than four years ago.
“Saving the garage is a better outcome in the end, if achievable,” said Erik Johnson, director of development services. “If it is determined that the garage cannot be re-used, then the Shelbourne partnership will continue on its original course of action.”
The council voted to allow the extension as long as Shelbourne still makes its third and final installment on its back taxes, a payment of $1.5 million, by Dec. 31.
Shelbourne made its first payment of $500,000 in September 2018, within a month of signing the agreement with the city. The second installment of $1 million was made in June, six months late, according to Howard Rifkin, the city’s chief attorney.
“We are grateful to the city council for their approval to amend the original agreement to give us more time to determine the best use for One Talcott Plaza, a historic cornerstone in Hartford’s revitalization,” Shelbourne managing member Ben Schlossberg said.
The company has acquired four downtown office towers since 2014: Metro Center One, the “Stilts Building” on Church Street, 100 Pearl St., and last year, it partnered with LAZ to buy One Financial Plaza, the “Gold Building.”
Shelbourne also owns a majority controlling interest in One Talcott Plaza, comprised of 1006 Main St., 30 Talcott St., and 36-70 Talcott St., and owed $3.06 million in taxes on those properties at the time that the company appealed the city’s property tax assessments of 20 Church St. and 100 Pearl St. several years ago.
In return for paying those delinquent taxes and developing One Talcott Plaza, the city agreed to keep the tax burden at the Stilts Building and 100 Pearl St. fixed for five years, amounting to $8.4 million.
Now, Shelbourne will also be asked to increase its investment in downtown development above the $10 million it originally promised.
That should be easy for the developer, one of the largest taxpayers in Hartford and property owners downtown. The garage project itself was estimated at up to $18 million, and renovations of up to $10 million are planned for 100 Pearl St., including a new cafe on the corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets and a golf-themed lobby for office tenants, complete with virtual golf simulator, putting green and bleacher seating.
In February, Shelbourne added to its holdings on Pratt Street by picking up three more buildings on the historic, brick-paved lane across from the XL Center. The company paid $4.8 million for those properties, which will be part of an ambitious, $100 million redevelopment of Pratt Street planned by Shelbourne, LAZ Investments and Lexington Partners.
[Business] The state is leaving two historic buildings in downtown Hartford, opening up possible conversions in neighborhood redevelopment plans »
Shelbourne is also planning to launch a shuttle loop for workers in its four office towers downtown, after purchasing a parking lot on Allyn Street in September for $3.9 million.
As long as the company pays off its Talcott Plaza tax debt by Dec. 31, the company will have until the end of June to determine whether it will demolish or repair the garage there. Negotiations are ongoing.