Kenneth R. Gosselin, The Hartford Courant
The same day Hartford learned it might lose a major downtown employer to the suburbs, another big company renewed its lease in the central business district, keeping more than 800 employees in the city.
Prudential Retirement has signed a new, 10-year lease at 280 Trumbull St., ensuring that the company's name will remain in the downtown Hartford skyline.
The lease is for 257,000 square feet, about 25,000 square feet more than it previously occupied, Michael Grunberg, a principal in the company that owns the building, confirmed Thursday. Grunberg said he signed the lease Wednesday, completing the deal. The lease covers roughly a third of the 28-story office tower, one of the tallest in downtown Hartford.
Grunberg said the deal came after more than a year of negotiations. Prudential had also considered constructing a new office building in the city, with the help of state funding.
Although Prudential did not comment on those plans, it did say last year that it was evaluating all available options in the Hartford area, suggesting that a move from the city was also a possibility. Prudential could not be reached for comment late Thursday. It also was not known how many jobs Prudential might be adding as it moves into more space.
The lease comes after it was disclosed this week that MetLife is leaning heavily toward moving 1,300 employees out of downtown Hartford to Bloomfield. If the move does take place, it would be a significant blow to the city's efforts to retain financial services jobs.
The relocation would also remove people who patronize local shops and restaurants, and who might choose to live near where they work in newly constructed downtown apartments.
The Prudential lease was welcomed by city leaders and commercial real estate brokers because the loss of the company would have meant significant erosion in financial services jobs.
"Not only are they staying, they are taking on more space that they didn't already have," said Jay Wamester, of Colliers Dow & Condon, the broker involved in the deal.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez said Prudential has been keeping the city informed as negotiations for the lease at 280 Trumbull unfolded in recent months.
"Unlike MetLife, we've had real conversations, ongoing conversations with them," Perez said. "This is not a surprise to us."
Perez said there were no tax incentives from the city involved in Prudential's deal.
Prudential Retirement is a unit of Newark, N.J.-based Prudential Financial Inc. Prudential bought the retirement operations of the Hartford-based CIGNA operation in 2004, and Hartford has since become the headquarters of Prudential Retirement.
When Prudential acquired the CIGNA unit, it also assumed CIGNA's lease at 280 Trumbull. In turn, Prudential subleased about 100,000 square feet back to CIGNA.
Prudential's new lease calls for it to expand into 25,000 square feet of the CIGNA space. But the rest of the space now subleased by CIGNA could go back on the market. CIGNA confirmed this week that it plans to eventually move 200 employees now occupying the space to Bloomfield.