The last time the Metropolitan District Commission needed more office space, it built a new headquarters at Main and Wells streets in the late 1970s.
Now the company, which provides water and sewer service to eight member cities and towns, is looking to expand again and has offered to buy the office building just to the south for $2.1 million. The three-story building, at 525 Main St., is owned by the city of Hartford.
The MDC would use the 24,000-square-foot building for office space and is considering the addition of a parking garage in back. The current headquarters has about 60,000 square feet.
Christopher Stone, an attorney for the MDC, said it was too soon to say how many parking spaces a garage might encompass. He said it also wasn't yet known how much the MDC might invest in renovations or in a garage.
About half of the space in upper floors at 525 Main are occupied, mostly by the city's public works department, and they would have to move. Ground floor tenants include a credit union, the Cornerstone Restaurant, a shoe repair shop and a police substation. Stone said no immediate changes would be planned for the storefront space.
The city council and the MDC board must approve the deal. If that happens, the property could be transferred as soon as Oct. 31 and the MDC could begin moving in by the end of the year, Stone said.
Stone said the space likely would be used by consultants who are working for the MDC in meeting the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.
Thomas E. Deller, the city's development director, said the sale fits with the city's continuing study of how to better use space for administrative offices.
Deller said any changes to the exterior of the structure, built in 1926, would have to cleared by the historic commission and other city boards. The facade would have to be retained if a major interior reconstruction was pursued, Deller said.
Deller moved to quell worries on Facebook that the building might be torn down for another parking lot. Recent changes to city zoning regulations now prohibit demolishing a structure downtown to create a parking lot, he said.
The MDC's eight members cities and towns are Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. The MDC also supplies treated water to a handful of other communities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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