August 24, 2009 | last updated May 26, 2012 8:22 am
DEAL WATCH

Aetna's $220M Move To Hartford Enters Home Stretch | Fate of 1.3 million-square-foot Middletown office complex cloudy

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Aetna is ready to vacate its sprawling Middletown facility, but uncertainty shrouds the building's fate following the move.

Health insurer Aetna Inc. is weeks away from moving the first groups of its remaining 3,000 or so workers in Middletown to its renovated midtown Hartford office complex.

When the move is complete, Aetna will employ about 6,400 workers in its two buildings located between Farmington Avenue and Interstate 84, which is nearly double its current count.

Oct. 1 will mark, a spokesman said, the start of the final phase of the four-year-long, $220 million move from its sprawling 200-acre campus at 1000 Middle St. in Middletown into its landmark, colonial-style headquarters building on Farmington Avenue and Atrium Building, at Farmington Avenue and Flower Street. The Atrium was previously owned and occupied by ING.

All 3,000 workers, most of whom work in information technology for Aetna, will be relocated to Hartford by early March 2010, said Aetna spokesman Fred Laberge. Medical specialists, administrators and support staff are also on the move list.

Aetna's scheduled move would easily dwarf the relocation Northeast Utilities completed last week, moving 167 corporate staffers from Berlin to 56 Prospect St. in downtown Hartford.

To accommodate commuting workers, Aetna built a new, 1,100-space parking garage on Flower Street, across from the Atrium Building. Aetna also renovated and expanded an existing garage behind its Rogers Building to accommodate another 1,400 vehicles, Laberge said.

Aetna's 1.3-million-square-foot Middletown campus opened in 1984 at a cost of $145 million. At its peak, the Middletown facility housed around 4,800 workers, Laberge said.

When Fairfield-based GE Capital later acquired the building, Aetna retained ownership of the land beneath and surrounding the structure. Aetna's building lease expires at the end of 2010.

About 1,000 Aetna workers no longer work at the Middletown complex, but instead "telecommute'' to their job assignments via personal computers, the company said.

A separate data center adjacent to the main structure will remain open, housing several hundred of Aetna's technical-support staff, Laberge said.

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing between Aetna and GE Capital about whether the latter is interested in buying the 200 acres of land, Laberge said.

GE Capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the future of the property.

OshKosh Re-Signs

Wisconsin-based OshKosh Corp. renewed its lease for 21,200 square feet at 35 Nicholson Road in East Granby.

B&B Parallel East Granby LLC is the landlord.

Sentry Commercial represented OshKosh in the lease.

Got real estate news? Deal Watch wants to hear from you. Email your information to gseay@HartfordBusiness.com

Greg Seay is the Hartford Business Journal Web editor.

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