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April 28, 2014 Reporter's Notebook

CT's downtown tower water woes

Photo | contributed 25 Sigourney St., above; 450 Columbus Blvd., formerly Connecticut River Plaza, left.
Photo | HBJ File

Since being acquired by the state nearly two years ago, the pair of pink-clad office towers, known as 450 Columbus Blvd., fronting the Connecticut River and I-91 in downtown Hartford, have had trouble holding their water.

Last Oct. 2, a failed seal allowed water to leak onto the ninth floor of the North tower, said Jeff Beckham, spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, which acquires, maintains and disposes of state property.

Then 2 ½ months later, on Jan. 14, a second pipe broke — this one on the eighth floor of the South tower.

Both leaks resulted, Beckham said in a recent email, to some damage to ceiling tiles, carpeting and wall board on lower floors.

“However, the demolition plans for 450 Columbus Boulevard have always included removal of the office floors' ceiling tiles, interior partitions & non-load-bearing walls and renovation of all office floors' bathrooms, including all the plumbing fixtures,'' he wrote.

“Since the replacement of the existing plumbing infrastructure, carpeting, wall board, etc., has always been within the scope of the renovation work being done there, none of the identified issues with the current infrastructure has had any particular impact on the timing or scope of the work to be done.”

The state's $34.5 million purchase of Connecticut River Plaza was part of a strategy to move more workers downtown. Various state agencies and their staffs will begin to occupy the building in 2016, Beckham said.

One of those agencies is the state Dept. of Revenue Services, a long-time tenant of the problematic and state-owned 25 Sigourney St. office building in midtown Hartford.

Originally built as offices for Xerox before the state took it over, the edifice has been plagued for years by complaints from workers and visitors there about leaky windows and damp, moldy walls. The building's parking garage is virtually unusable due to flaking, peeling concrete.

No decisions about the long-term use for 25 Sigourney have been made, Beckham said.

— Gregory Seay

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