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The Hartford To Sell Simsbury Campus, Move Employees To Hartford and Windsor

Insurer Will Sell Nearly 175 Acres


February 27, 2013

The Hartford is leaving Simsbury.

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. scaling back to focus on its more profitable businesses will shutter the 33-acre campus in Simsbury, one of three main locations, over the next two years and relocate 1,500 employees to offices in Hartford and Windsor.

The Hartford-based property-casualty insurer will put up for sale its four-story, 610,000-square-foot building off Hopmeadow Street, plus another 140 acres it owns north of the main campus.

This is the latest move by The Hartford to consolidate the office locations it leases and owns as its Connecticut workforce continues to shrink. It has closed offices in Southington and Farmington and its building at 55 Farmington Ave. in Hartford is up for sale.

"We selected Hartford because it has been the company's home for more than 200 years, and we have ample space here for employees," said Shannon Lapierre, a spokeswoman for The Hartford. "We selected our Windsor facility because of size, layout, technology features and energy efficiency. It's the right fit for the current and future needs of our business."

The Hartford said that it would work with Simsbury to market the sprawling property. If a buyer is found quickly, The Hartford could relocate its employees sooner, Lapierre said.

The decision by The Hartford comes as a blow to Simsbury, but it was not completely unexpected, said Mary Glassman, the town's first selectwoman.

"Certainly we are disappointed that The Hartford made this decision," Glassman said. "They have been good corporate neighbors since they came to town, and as our largest taxpayer we are disappointed."

Last March, The Hartford cautioned the town about a restructuring, so the town had begun planning for it. The Hartford will still have to pay property taxes even if it is not occupying the site, at least until a buyer is found. The company's tax bill is now $1.7 million, Glassman said.

At its peak, The Hartford had 3,000 employees in Simsbury, Glassman said.

The Simsbury property was developed for The Hartford in 1984, but until 2010, the insurer didn't own the building, just the land where it was located. In 2010, The Hartford purchased the building at 200 Hopmeadow St. for $46 million, according to town records.

Lapierre said that the insurer's Hartford headquarters campus now has 4,100 employees, with space for another 1,400. The company's Windsor location, built in 2008, now has 1,200 workers, with space for another 1,300.

Part of the decline in the company's workforce came in the major restructuring during the past year that resulted in the sale of three business lines, including its retirement services unit, which employed 700 people in Simsbury and Windsor. The restructuring was intended to allow a greater focus on The Hartford's more profitable property-casualty business as well as mutual funds.

Although still the largest insurance company employer in Connecticut, The Hartford's overall workforce has plummeted by 40 percent to 7,700 following the sale of the businesses, compared with 13,000 five years ago. Nationally, the insurer's workforce has fallen to 20,000 from 31,000 in the same period.

Lapierre said that the employees in Simsbury are primarily in group benefits, commercial and consumer markets, and technology support.

In addition to The Hartford's employees, there are employees of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. and the Prudential Life Insurance Co. of America at the Simsbury campus.

MassMutual, which purchased the retirement services business, is in a yearlong renovation of office space in Enfield to accommodate the retirement workers. Prudential is planning how it will accommodate the workers that accompanied its acquisition of The Hartford's individual life business.

Courant staff writer Nick Rondinone contributed to this story.

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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