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NU To Relocate Headquarters From Berlin To Hartford

By LYNN DOAN | Courant Staff Writer

September 17, 2008

Northeast Utilities plans to relocate its headquarters from its sprawling Berlin campus to a downtown Hartford office building over the next year in a move to increase its presence in the capital city, company officials said Tuesday.

The company announced that it is moving corporate departments, including about 180 accountants, lawyers and executives, to a 93,000-square-foot office building at 56 Prospect St., which it is buying from The Phoenix Cos. NU subsidiaries Connecticut Light & Power Co. and Yankee Gas will continue to be based in the company's red-brick Berlin campus at 107 Selden St., off the Berlin Turnpike.

NU has wanted to move its headquarters to Hartford for years to get closer to lawmakers and economic development agencies, such as the Metro Hartford Alliance, of which it is a member and sponsor, company officials said.

"Previous administrations of NU have sought to do just this because we think it's that important to have a presence in the capital city," NU spokesman Al Lara said. "We talk about having a commitment to the city of Hartford. Well, it's more than just talk."

Phoenix had been marketing the art deco-style, three-story Hartford building since April, when it decided to spin off a subsidiary in the building. NU officials said they spotted the building on the market just as the company's Berlin offices, the largest of which is roughly 105,000 square feet, were becoming crowded.

"The opportunity to acquire an attractive property in downtown Hartford at a reasonable price in today's market provided an ideal solution to our expansion plan," said Charles W. Shivery, NU's chairman and chief executive officer.

The tan-colored office building comes with an underground garage for about 100 vehicles, and NU is arranging to lease at least another 80 spaces. More than 1,200 employees will remain at the Berlin campus, including NU's transmission unit, in addition to CL&P and Yankee Gas.

"It's a win-win situation for both cities," Lara said.

The company is also touting the move as a win for customers. As part of the company's overhaul in customer service, a walk-in service center will be located at the Hartford office building for CL&P and Yankee Gas customers.

The building is separate, but near Phoenix's famous "boat building."

Phoenix bought it from Travelers for $6.5 million in 1994 and renovated it with the help of a $5.3 million loan from the state. Phoenix was asking $10 million for it in March, but the company and NU declined to release the final purchase price on Tuesday. They expect to close the deal by the end of the year.

Phoenix's chairman and chief executive, Dona D. Young, described the deal with NU Tuesday as "an important milestone for Phoenix," pushing the company ahead of schedule in spinning off its subsidiary Phoenix Investment Partners and getting rid of the building.

"We look forward to having NU as a neighbor," Young said.

Phoenix Investment Partners plans to move its 140 workers from Prospect Street to two floors of an office building at 100 Pearl St. That company will be renamed Virtus Investment Partners after the spinoff.

Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez welcomed NU Tuesday into what he described as "a signature office building" in the city's central business district.

"The good news is that 56 Prospect St. ... will remain occupied and continue contributing to the tax base of the city," Perez said Tuesday. "This is just another signal that the future of Hartford looks bright and downtown remains a desirable location to do business."

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the relocation "adds new luster to our capital city."

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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