News Column

Loans Could Bring Hartford Office Supply Building Closer To Apartment Conversion

June 21, 2014

By Kenneth R. Gosselin, The Hartford Courant



June 21--HARTFORD, Conn. -- Long-simmering plans to convert a prominent but long-vacant building in Frog Hollow into apartments could now get a major financing boost.

The conversion of the former Hartford Office Supply Co. building on Capitol Avenue has been approved for $7 million in financing from the Capital Region Development Authority and an additional $5 million from the state Department of Housing's CHAMP program, aimed at increasing affordable housing. The State Bond Commission must now vote on the financing, in the form of loans.

The conversion is estimated to cost $31 million.

Michael W. Freimuth, CRDA's executive director, said the Hartford Office Supply building is outside the authority's core, downtown area where it has concentrated most of its apartment financing efforts.

"We want to start to link or knit our efforts downtown to the neighborhoods," Freimuth said.

The building is considered key to revitalizing a main thoroughfare in the Frog Hollow neighborhood. It isn't yet clear when construction might begin, but Freimuth said it is possible the first rentals could be available at the end of 2016.

Dakota, a developer based in Waltham, Mass., has an option to buy the four-story building. Dakota also is now converting the former Professional Building on Allyn Street into apartments.

Dakota couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

According to CRDA, the financing package also includes a $3 million loan from the city of Hartford, a $5.4 million bank loan and $10 million in state and federal historic credits.

The apartments would be 80 percent market-rate and 20 percent rent-restricted based on income. Monthly rents would range between $900 an $1,250.

Apartments have been envisioned for the 98-year-old, brick-and-brownstone building for nearly a decade.

Tarragon Corp. bought the building in 2005 for $2.65 million from Henry M. Zachs, whose father bought it in 1939. Tarragon secured approval for rental units in 2008, but the conversion did not go forward. Paradigm Capital Group of New York took control of the building in a 2010 foreclosure after Taragon filed for bankruptcy.

Paradigm itself was hit by foreclosure proceedings in 2012 after property taxes weren't paid. Last year, an auction was averted at the last minute after payment was made.

Part of the building, at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street, dates to the late 1800s and once was occupied by the Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool Co.Pratt & Whitney backed aircraft engine pioneer Frederick Rentschler in 1925 and encouraged Rentschler to use the Pratt name.

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(c)2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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Source: Hartford Courant (CT)


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