Now that the state has completed its purchase of Connecticut River Plaza, work can begin on renovating the downtown Hartford office complex for use by employees of the Department of Revenue Services, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and other agencies.
The revenue department alone will bring 700 workers to downtown Hartford, nearly a third of the 2,000 to 2,300 workers that are expected to move into the Columbus Boulevard complex by early 2016, said Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services.
Not all the departments moving workers to the two-towered complex have been determined, but planning is well underway, Beckham said.
The state closed the $34.5 million purchase of Connecticut River Plaza on Friday. The extent of the renovations has pushed back any move to the building from the initial timetable of 2015, Beckham said.
Connecticut River Plaza is one of two office buildings in Hartford acquired by the state this year as part of plans to consolidate office workers from nearly 20 leased and aging state-owned locations in and around Hartford. This spring, the state purchased 55 Farmington Ave. in Asylum Hill. As many as 3,300 workers could be shifted to the two locations.
The 55 Farmington Ave. office tower, at the corner of Flower Street, will supply new offices for 1,100 state workers. The largest number, 600, will come from the Department of Social Services. Other workers will come from the Department of Aging, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, IT workers for payroll and human services, and the Criminal Justice Information System.
The Farmington Avenue building is expected to be occupied within a year.
The state estimates it will save $100 million over the next 20 years -- $200 million when adjusted for inflation -- by purchasing the buildings and consolidating state workers.
The 575,000-square-foot Connecticut River Plaza is basically an empty shell, so office improvements -- cubicles, furniture, telecom, IT, carpet and paint -- will be needed. Repairs to the roof, the plaza and the garage also are needed, Beckham said. The renovations are expected to cost $48 million.
Two of the departments -- Revenue Services and Social Services -- are relocating from 25 Sigourney St. The state has made moving workers out of the building a priority because of its poor condition.
The state has poured millions of dollars into 25 Sigourney St. to repair water leaks and mold damage, with mixed results. Last year, the above-ground portion of the parking garage was closed because its crumbling structure raised safety concerns.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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