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July 9, 2018

Northland's 'adjacency' strategy key to Hartford footprint

If you look at a map of Northland Investment Corp.'s current and former Hartford realty holdings, you'll notice they surround the XL Center.

The Massachusetts-based developer's Hartford footprint didn't form that way by happenstance.

Northland Chairman, CEO and President Larry Gottesdiener said his firm, back in the 1990s and early 2000s, deployed an “adjacency” strategy in Hartford, buying and/or erecting buildings around a central part of downtown — the XL Center, formerly the Civic Center — in order to control and spur future development in the neighborhood.

Gottesdiener said he assumed two things would happen in the area: There would either be a like-new arena built on-site, which would raise the value of his various landholdings; or the arena would eventually be bulldozed, paving way for Northland to spearhead future development there.

Either way, Northland was angling to serve as a catalyst in redeveloping the heart of downtown, he said.

“The point of having adjacencies is that if you do something great, you elevate the values around you and you get to make it your own,” he said.

Northland's footprint around XL Center has shrunk over the years. It lost three key office towers to foreclosure — Goodwin Square and CityPlace II, both on Asylum Street, and Metro Center on Church Street — but it still owns key pieces of real estate on nearly all sides of the XL Center, including: 242 Trumbull St., situated directly across the street to XL's front entrance; 100 Allyn St., directly behind XL; and Hartford 21, which shares space with the arena.

Controlling that area is precisely the reason Gottesdiener says he's not interested right now in selling his XL Center stake known as the “Trumbull block,'' which includes atrium and adjoining retail/office space.

With no clear plan on XL Center's future, Gottesdiener says Northland wants to influence future development in the area, particularly if the arena goes dark and is razed.

Northland has deployed its adjacency strategy nationwide, including with developments it's currently spearheading in Boston and Newton, Mass., Gottesdiener said.

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