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Aetna Buying Back Arts Center From Greater Hartford Arts Council

Frank Rizzo

April 17, 2010

The Greater Hartford Arts Council is getting out of the real estate business.

Aetna is buying the Hartford Courant Arts Center, at 224 Farmington Ave., from the not-for-profit arts council for $300,000, it was announced Friday.

The council had been seeking a buyer for the largely unoccupied property and last year received a high six-figure offer from a not-for-profit community group. But when the Aetna Foundation deeded it to the council in 1986 for $1 making it a home for some of the city's leading arts organizations it stipulated that the arts council could only sell it to another not-for-profit arts group.

When no other offer that could meet the contract terms emerged, negotiations began with Aetna to take the title back.

An Aetna spokesman says it has not yet been determined what the company will do with the property, two buildings and a parking area. The arts council is now renting 2,500 square feet of the back building's 30,000 square feet to the not-for-profit council of churches, whose lease expires in July.

The property is nearly across the street from Aetna's corporate headquarters.

Greater Hartford Arts Council CEO Kate Bolduc says the sale will mean that the council will not have to pay for the property's annual upkeep estimated at about $70,000 or be responsible for major six-figure repairs that the rear building needed.

The Aetna sale coincides with the council's moving its headquarters in September from its offices on Pratt Street to the street level space at Pearl and Trumbull streets, at an estimated annual savings of $50,000 a year.

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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