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Architectural Firm To Stay In City

July 21, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

After almost 70 years in Hartford, the architectural firm of Jeter, Cook & Jepson has planned a move to Prospect Street that will guarantee it another generation in the state's capital, its president said Monday.

"Our roots run pretty deep here," said firm President Peter N. Stevens. "And when all was said and done, the ability to stay in Hartford and find a location that means we have another 30, 40, 50 years in our hometown means a lot to us."

The new, 35,000-square-foot home for the firm and its 137 employees will be at 38 Prospect St., a building now owned by the Phoenix Life Insurance Co. and not far from the yet-to-be-developed Front Street project, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Connecticut River, and more. The firm is now located at 450 Church St.

"The reality of the state dollars going toward Front Street and the convention center really has put a lot of emphasis on that end of town," he said.

Although developers called with plans to bring the growing firm to the suburbs, Stevens said he and the firm decided to stay in Hartford for both conceptual and concrete reasons - while it considers itself an urban firm, it also recognizes that it is easier to attract talented architects from New York and Boston to Hartford than it is to attract them to the suburbs, he said.

"We have a difficult time recruiting people from New York and Boston to Hartford, let alone try to convince them they want to work in a suburban location," he said. "And in talking with young professionals, I get a true sense that they do see Hartford as having turned the corner."

Mayor Eddie A. Perez called the news "a big deal."

"They looked at places all over the Greater Hartford area and, settling here, it sends a big boost for us," Perez said. His staff added that the city is working with the firm to identify financial incentives to staying.

Jeter, Cook & Jepson has an office in San Diego and is opening one in New York City, Stevens said. The deal to buy the Prospect Street building should close no later than September, and the firm should make its move by the end of the year, he said.

Stevens would not disclose a sale price, but the one-third acre and building parcel has an approximate $2 million assessed value on record with the city. The building sold for $2.5 million in 1995.

The building is in good shape and won't need a full renovation, Stevens said. "But we will invest some money into it to make it more appropriate for the use and architectural practice," he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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