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Banking On Downtown

Sovereign moving area HQ into renovated historic space

By Mary Johnson

May 12, 2008

At the end of June, Sovereign Bank will abandon one downtown location and move one block up Trumbull Street to another.

The bank is moving its 100 Pearl St. branch north to the corner of Trumbull and Asylum. The new space — located where the former Bar with No Name operated — will feature a full-service branch on the ground floor.

The two floors above the branch will house Sovereign Bank’s headquarters for the area, which will move from West Hartford, as well as its executive offices.

Kevin Flaherty, the bank’s market president for Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, said the company started renovations on its new, leased space in January. That was after the building’s owners had it completely gutted.

“First of all, it had been left to rack and ruin,” Flaherty said. “All the systems needed to be completely upgraded.”

There was lead and asbestos, a dated HVAC system and a lack of handicap accessibility, Flaherty said.

Since the building is designated historic, Sovereign’s Bank restoration has had to be specific, incorporating colors original to the building and restoring some of the long-neglected architectural details. For example, on an exterior wall reads the faded phrase “Hatters,” which is a throwback to the building’s former life as the home of clothier Stackpole Moore Tryon.

In the interest of historic preservation, Flaherty said the bank has decided not to paint over it.

The renovation’s total cost when the project is complete will be more than $4 million, Flaherty said. That includes the landlord’s contribution.

“It’s really pretty, and we’re also getting the benefit of streetscapes that are winding their way up Trumbull as we speak,” said Flaherty. “We’re going to be downtown but with some nice amenities and conveniences.”

One of those conveniences, Flaherty said, will be dedicated customer parking across the street.

Other Relocations

The downtown renovation and relocation coincides with other changes by Sovereign. It has moved five in-store supermarket branches to three, 3,500-square-foot, free-standing branches, Flaherty said. It also closed branches in two mall locations — in the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester and Westfarms Mall in Farmington — and in another shopping strip location at the Shoppes at Farmington Valley.

“We did that because we didn’t find … that we were getting more than transactional business,” Flaherty said.

Although the bank moved out of its retail locations, it did open a branch in Blue Back Square after Christmas, a location in which Flaherty negotiated bank exclusivity.

The opening was marred slightly by continuing construction, Flaherty said. But since that has ceased and the weather has turned warmer, the flow of people in the area has steadily increased.

“I love the location, and my understanding is that business has been brisk,” Flaherty said.

As for future tenants for the space at 100 Pearl St., where Sovereign vacated, the Silverman Group, which owns and manages the building, did not return calls seeking comment.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Business Journal. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Business Journal Archives at http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/archives.php.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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