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August 29, 2022

Former Southington Pratt & Whitney facility fully leased after major renovation

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Window and door maker Harvey Building Products recently signed a 124,000-square-foot lease at 75 Aircraft Road, Southington.

It was a team effort to rejuvenate the former Pratt & Whitney campus on Aircraft Road in Southington, a five-building, 650,000-square-foot property that is now fully leased and home to multiple industrial tenants.

Frank H. Hird

When broker Frank Hird first got the lease listing several years ago, the decades-old aircraft engine property — which includes one main building with more than 500,000 square feet of space, and four smaller buildings — was in poor condition and virtually empty except for one tenant.

Hird, vice president of Branford-based O,R&L Properties, said it’s likely that most developers would’ve taken one look at the main building and opted to tear it down.

“That would’ve been a mistake, it’s a very well-constructed building,” it just wasn’t suitable for today’s business needs, Hird said.

Another challenge to leasing the space was the location, as Southington is in the middle of the Hartford and New Haven real estate markets, he said.

His solution was to team up with a Realtor in the Hartford O,R&L office, Carol Karney, and offer the listing in both markets.

“I thought we could do a better job reaching both markets working as a team,” Hird said.

Property owner IRG — Industrial Realty Group — also came on board with plans to renovate the entire Aircraft Road site as part of a multimillion-dollar investment.

IRG, which owns more than 100 million square feet of industrial space around the country, originally bought the Southington property in 2001 for $1.5 million, town records show.

“It was a major renovation,” Hird said. “They attacked it piece by piece to improve it.”

The entire property has a current appraised value of $8.6 million, town records show.

Hird signed a lease with the first tenant about five years ago.

Now, the property is completely renovated and fully leased with the most recent tenant signing on this month.

Harvey Building Products, which makes windows and doors, has leased a 124,000-square-foot space in the main building for its Northeast distribution center.

There are six tenants in the property; Harvey, 3PL Logistics, and Paragon Medical suppliers occupy the entire main building.

Jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney shuttered the campus more than 25 years ago.

Hird said properties like this are difficult to convert from a specific use to a modern, flexible space that accommodates multiple tenants.

He said he’s glad the property was preserved and is now home to several profitable businesses that bring jobs and tax revenue to Southington.

“We tried to take a new approach and it paid off,” Hird said. “It’s kind of a showplace compared to what it was … and it’s a real success story for Southington and Connecticut.”

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