State Grant Helps Glastonbury Company Relocate to Hartford's Colt Complex
By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
December 13, 2012
HARTFORD — — Developers of the historic Colt Firearms complex welcomed their second major commercial tenant Thursday, as the governor announced a $500,000 grant to help outfit space for a Glastonbury company that will bring 110 jobs to the city and has plans to hire more.
Foley Carrier Services' lease in the South Armory provides a much-needed boost to efforts by Hartford-based CG Management, which took over as Colt developer in 2010, to attract for-profit businesses. It has been eight years since the first — Insurity, a software and service provider to the insurance industry — moved into a neighboring building.
"When there are investments like this, it says something about the project," Larry Dooley of CG Management said, adding that more businesses are now taking a look at Colt Gateway — at least 15 in recent weeks.
Some are looking at space in the East Armory with its iconic, blue-onion dome that may be the next building to undergo significant renovations, now that its metal roof has been replaced for the first time since the 1890s. Next year, $5 million in previously approved state bond money may be released to begin renovations on the facade of the East Armory, Dooley said.
With the addition of Foley's 110 workers, there is enough foot traffic for a modest cafe now under construction on the ground floor of the South Armory.
Efforts to win national park designation for the Colt complex and the surrounding area, however, are not expected to be taken up by Congress this year, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who represents Hartford, said Thursday.
Larson said he is committed to reintroducing the bill in 2013. When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited the Colt campus last year, he endorsed the idea of Colt's becoming a national park, citing its role in the country's contribution to the Industrial Revolution.
"We're confident that we've addressed the concerns with the legislation that had been raised in the past, and we're hopeful that we can work to pass the Coltsville National Historical Park Act in the next Congress," Larson said in a written statement.
The state's investment for the Foley lease is a quarter of the $2 million needed to outfit the 17,000 square feet for Foley on the South Armory's second floor. The remainder came from Chevron's tax-credit financing arm, the majority investor in the project.
Foley advises shippers and other product carriers on how to meet federal transportation guidelines on safety and other regulations. It also provides drug and alcohol testing.
David Wendell, Foley's president, said the company had outgrown its 14,000-square-foot space in Glastonbury and looked at locations in several towns surrounding Hartford before choosing Colt.
Wendell said the Colt location was attractive because it came with surface parking and had access to public transportation. In addition, Colt is close to a population of potential bilingual Spanish speaking job candidates that are needed to serve the company's growing Latino customer base, Wendell said.
The company expects to hire 70 workers in the next three years, 20 immediately and 20 more by the end of 2013, Wendell said.
Relocating to Colt also was intriguing because redevelopment appears to be picking up momentum, Wendell said.
"We could be part of a neighborhood renaissance," Wendell said.
Two years ago, Foley was acquired by BirdDog Co., a third-party logistics provider based in Andover, Mass. Since then, its client base has nearly doubled, from 17,000 to more than 30,000.
At a news conference, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state needed to make investments in companies that are adding jobs, even in times of state budget deficits.
"This is the kind of company we want to see in Connecticut, see in Hartford," Malloy said. They will be adding jobs "in a complex that some people thought would never get to this point."
In addition to Insurity, Foley joins the Capitol Region Education Council as major tenants at the complex. Further residential development also is planned in the South Amory, with the addition of 79 apartments to the 50 that already exist, mostly all leased.
Dooley is the third in a line of recent developers to tackle the project since the early 2000s. His predecessors ran into financial troubles, worsened by the recession. At one point, the project was stalled for years, and the financial legacy of one recent developer, New York-based Homes for America Holdings Inc., including foreclosed mortgages, is still being untangled.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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