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Hartford Prudential Building Sold For $65 Million

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Prudential Building Sold For $65 Million

Buyer Calls His Firm 'Very Bullish' On Hartford

By TOM PULEO

Courant Staff Writer | August 4 2004

280%20Trumbull.jpg

The Prudential Building, 280 Trumbull Street

One of downtown's tallest office towers has been sold in another sign that private dollars are filling in behind state-sponsored redevelopment of Hartford.

The 28-story "Prudential Building" at 280 Trumbull St. was purchased Friday by Grunberg Realty, a Manhattan real estate company that calls itself "very bullish" on the city.

Grunberg, which paid $65 million for the property, also bills itself as a family-owned and -operated firm that holds onto its buildings.

Michael Grunberg, a principal in the firm, said Tuesday that Hartford is on the rebound economically. He offered a litany of reasons: an educated workforce in the region, quality architecture, a new strong-mayor government, a new governor, easy commuting and the state-backed, billion-dollar, public-private downtown investment plan featuring the new convention center and hotel at Adriaen's Landing.

"All of these things dovetail to make a winning combination," Grunberg said. "What you have in Hartford is the cream of the crop."

The Prudential Building includes 673,000 rentable square feet of prime "Class A" office space. In recent years, the building has seen several short-term owners.

In 1997, Cambridge Realty Partners paid $20.9 million for the tower. Four years later, New Boston Fund paid $45.5 million for the building. Grunberg Realty's $65 million purchase includes a $43 million mortgage and $21 million in cash equity.

Grunberg Realty, which has a 40-year history in Manhattan, buys, repositions, manages and leases its many office and residential properties.

Grunberg's attorney, Walter E. Paulekas of the Hartford firm Levin, Ford & Paulekas, called the purchase another "significant private investment in this part of the city."

He cited other area projects, including the $160 million makeover of the Civic Center mall and the $28.5 million renovation of the Hartford Hilton Hotel.

"These are real people spending their own money to invest in our city, as opposed to more speculative investment groups," Paulekas said. "We haven't seen that in some time. It's a good sign."

CIGNA and Prudential Financial take up nearly half of 280 Trumbull St. There are five floors of law firms, and vacancy is about 10 percent.

In April, CIGNA sold its Hartford-based retirement services business to Prudential Financial for $2.1 billion. As the new major tenant, Prudential then put up its own sign in May. The building dates from 1984.

Grunberg said Hartford hit bottom in the early 1990s and remained flat until about 2003, when the recovery started.

"The properties here are undervalued," he said.

Last year, Grunberg bought his first Hartford property, a medical office building at 21 Woodland St.

He hopes to invest in more Hartford buildings. He also wants to put a "white tablecloth" restaurant in the first floor of 280 Trumbull.

"What we really need is seafood," he said.

From The Hartford Courant

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