December 5, 2011 | last updated June 4, 2012 11:24 am
DEAL WATCH TODAY

The Phoenix offers 'Boat Bldg' berths

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
One American Row, also known as the "Boat Building,'' is home to life insurer The Phoenix Cos. Inc.

Hartford insurer The Phoenix Cos. Inc. is searching for one or more office tenants to occupy 62,000 feet of empty ground floor in its iconic downtown skyscraper, the "Boat Building,'' authorities say.

The 16-floor building, so nicknamed because its greenish-blue glass tint and its elliptical lenticular cylinder shape resembles a boat afloat, has housed The Phoenix's headquarters since its opening in 1963. With three floors at or below grade, the tower is 13 stories.

However, over the years, the insurer's need for space in the building formally known as One American Row had diminished in step with its financial calamity in 2008 that forced the sale of assets and a sharp curb in staffing through layoffs.

Currently, some 375 Phoenix staffers occupy most of the building's remaining 248,000 square feet of leasable space, said spokeswoman Alice Ericson, including her. About three years ago The Phoenix employed about 855 people in Connecticut.

Hence, its need for much less office space, authorities say.

Until about a decade ago, Hartford law Shipman & Goodwin was The Boat Building's only other major tenant before moving across the street into One Constitution Plaza.

Nutmeg State Federal Credit Union still occupies about 800 square feet on the structure's ground floor.

Hartford veteran realty brokers Bill Farley of CB Richard Ellis and Tom York, of Goman + York, are leasing agents for the property.

The rent being asked is $22.75 a square foot full-service gross, which includes the operating costs of the building such as lights and heat, York said.

He said The Phoenix has been approached by several local prospective tenants about occupying some portions of the space but he declined to identify them.

"We're expecting most of the space to be office space,'' York said, although he said retail tenants will be considered.

He said the space is significant because it is the only institutionally owned headquarters building offering space in the downtown.

"That kind of space is managed at a higher level than your typical office building,'' he said.

Earlier this decade, the building underwent a major mechanical-system upgrade, enough to make One American Row in 2005 only the second existing office tower in Connecticut to obtain the silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

It also is the first New England office building to be both LEED certified and on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by noted architect Max Abramowitz, who also penned the United Nations building in New York, the Boat Building joined the register in 2005.

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