March 20, 2017

Once-delayed Radisson room-to-apt. conversions resume

The Radisson Hotel, 50 Morgan St., downtown Hartford.

Following a delay caused by a legal dispute, interior renovation has resumed on the upper eight floors of the 388-room Radisson Hotel in downtown Hartford, construction officials say.

But the estimated $6.5 million conversion of 200 hotel rooms into 96 apartments, some of which overlook Dunkin' Donuts Park, won't be ready by opening day — as originally planned, according to nationwide building contractor Greython Construction.

Kyle Klewin, CEO for Greython, based in Stonington, which took over the project from another contractor, says the completion date has been pushed back to summer.

When finished, the 18-story Radisson will have 188 hotel rooms remaining plus its one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartments, ranging in size from around 800 to 900 square feet, Klewin said. Hartford's Crosskey Architects is the project's designer.

"Things are really on track now,'' Klewin said. "We've got significant manpower on the project. I think it's going to be great for downtown. It's going to be great for the ballfield.''

Occupancy will occur in phases, as each floor is finished, he said. The new apartments will feature amenities such as washers-dryers and granite countertops. Each will be individually metered for electricity use. The hotel also houses a restaurant and underground parking.

The hotel's rooms-to-apartments conversion got off to a rocky start.

On Jan. 27, the hotel's owner, 50 Morgan Hospitality Group LLC, sued in Hartford Superior Court its original contractor overseeing the conversion work. The suit, now pending in federal court, accuses Arizona-based Excel Hotel Services Inc. of breaching its $6 million services contract.

In its suit, the hotel owner, which is seeking more than $500,000 in damages, says Excel Hotel Services failed to adopt or follow the construction schedule and didn't provide sufficient manpower to hit key project deadlines and milestones, including required inspections.

Excel also failed to pay subcontractors or adequately document work it allegedly completed, the lawsuit states.

Three "stop-work'' orders from the state Department of Labor (DOL) against several previous subcontractors haven't slowed things, Klewin said.

"Work is aggressively commencing and has been since late January,'' he said.

The Radisson's new apartments are part of downtown Hartford's expanding housing pipeline.

As of last October, the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) had provided supplemental financing for some 800 units of downtown apartments with a development value topping $192 million. It was also working on five new housing proposals that would add an additional 264 units to the center city.

Owners of the Radisson received a $6.5 million construction loan from CRDA for the makeover.

The new projects, which have a collective development price tag of at least $53.4 million, come as rental-housing demand remains strong, with downtown's vacancy rate hovering around 3.5 percent.

It's a trend that could continue with the influx of more than 2,000 UConn students, faculty and staff next year, as the state's flagship university moves its West Hartford satellite campus to downtown Hartford.

Of the $192 million in private funds committed to downtown's apartment conversions, CRDA has provided $48 million in supplemental loans.

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