UnitedHealth Plans Crosstown Move To CityPlace In Hartford
KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
March 25, 2009
HARTFORD - UnitedHealth Group plans to stay in downtown Hartford but will move to CityPlace and invest $35 million in renovations, keeping a major employer in the city and potentially raising the profile of its offices.
Next summer's move will give a much-needed boost to retailers and restaurants around downtown's tallest tower as 2,300 UnitedHealth employees relocate from Connecticut River Plaza off Columbus Boulevard near the riverfront to the corner of Trumbull and Asylum streets, considered by many as the heart of downtown.
CityPlace "is in a very central location to retailers and restaurants that will benefit from the proximity of those 2,000-plus people," said Jonathan K. Putnam, a commercial real estate broker at Cushman & Wakefield in Hartford, which didn't represent either side. "Some of those people would be less likely to walk from Columbus Boulevard to Trumbull Street."
Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced the move Tuesday, including an additional $1.5 million in funding from the state for energy-efficiency work and other renovations at the new location.
The relocation is expected to create up to 200 construction-related jobs over the next 18 months. In accepting the state funding, United Health has agreed to maintain 2,000 employees in Hartford for at least three years.
"Our decision to remain in Hartford reinforces the company's ongoing commitment to the region as both an employer and a community partner," said Mike Matteo, chief executive of UnitedHealth's national accounts business, which is based in Hartford. "Hartford has long been home to leading health-care and financial services companies."
UnitedHealth's lease fills a big hole in the occupancy of the CityPlace I building left when MetLife moved out.
Daryl Richard, a UnitedHealth spokesman in Hartford, said the insurer plans to occupy floors two to 12 and 15 to 20 in a long-term lease, but he declined to discuss specifics of the rental agreement except to say the lease "locks in at an attractive rate."
According to local brokers, it is likely the lease would run for at least 10 years and fill at least 400,000 square feet.
UnitedHealth confirmed last month that it was examining options — including CityPlace, according to sources at the time — because its lease at Connecticut River Plaza was expiring in 2010. UnitedHealth now occupies 460,000 square feet.
The insurer didn't rule out the suburbs, but said it has a strong preference to stay downtown.
"It's a home run to keep the tenant of that size and caliber in the central business district," said Christopher Ostop, a broker at Jones Lang LaSalle, CityPlace's leasing agent.
Rell said she was "tremendously pleased" with the insurer's decision to remain in the city.
"The lease agreement signed today not only preserves more than 2,000 professional jobs, it also ensures a company with long tradition of civic spirit will continue to play a vital role in our capital city," the governor said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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