HARTFORD — Downtown Hartford’s One Financial Plaza — the “Gold Building” — sold Friday for $70.5 million, the first change in ownership for the city’s signature skyscraper in nearly two decades.
LAZ Investments, a partner of Hartford-based parking giant LAZ Parking, and Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC, of Brooklyn, N.Y., closed on the deal Friday afternoon in what is described as a “50-50 joint venture” and one they said demonstrates confidence in the city’s revitalization and its leadership.
“We’re excited to team up with them to purchase the most iconic Class A office building in downtown Hartford,” Alan Lazowski, LAZ’s chairman and chief executive, said, in an interview Friday. “We look forward to continuing the renaissance.”
The purchase is the latest involving Shelbourne. Since 2014, Shelbourne and its managing member Benjamin Schlossberg have acquired some of downtown’s most recognizable office towers, including 20 Church Street, the “Stilts Building” and Metro Center. In the last year, Shelbourne has also purchased major portions of Pratt Street.
The Gold Building, at the corner of Main and Pearl streets, was last purchased by Talcott Realty Investors LLC in 2000 for $60 million, or about $97 a square foot. The price paid Friday for the 26-story, 621,000-square-foot tower is $113 a square foot.
City assessor records show the fair market value of the building was $64.1 million, as of the 2019 grand list.
Lazowski and Shelbourne confirmed in January they were negotiated to buy the office building, which also has a 1,141-space parking garage.
“When choosing a buyer, it was important to Talcott to select someone that would not only perform but take care of the asset and its tenants,” Michael Mihalek, Talcott Realty’s president, said, in a statement. “The city is more vibrant than it’s been in a long time, and we are happy that the Gold Building is in great hands going forward.”
LAZ Parking plans to relocate its headquarters to the Gold Building from 15 Lewis St. just around the corner. Lazowski said LAZ will renovate 34,000 square feet in the Gold Building for its offices and move in about six months. The Lewis Street building could become apartments, Lazowski said.
Once LAZ Parking relocates, the Gold Building will have a 6-percent vacancy. After United Technologies Corp. relocated its headquarters from the tower to Farmington in 2015, the Gold Building had a 30-percent vacancy.
In the last year, Talcott Realty chipped away at the vacancy, inking two major leases: Virtus Investment Partners Inc. and Global Atlantic Financial Group. Together, they leased 89,000 square feet. Travelers is now the largest tenant.
Lazowski noted that Morgan Stanley and Fidelity were major underwriters of the debt on the building, a sign, he said, of investor confidence in the Hartford market.
LAZ and Shelbourne have had a longstanding relationship since the Brooklyn real estate investment company first started acquiring property in Hartford. LAZ provides parking services for Shelbourne buildings.
A couple of years ago, the two had considered a different type of arrangement for the building when it was first up for sale. Shelbourne would purchase the tower and LAZ would manage the parking. This time, they chose to jointly purchase the building.
Andrew Filler, a principal at the Hartford office of commercial real estate broker Avison Young, represented the seller. Filler said the LAZ’s decision to relocate its headquarters to the Gold Building underscores belief in the city’s future.
The Gold Building was constructed in the 1970s by the late developer David Chase.