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February 22, 2020

Vacant Hartford office tower sells for $1M; Fla. investor who purchased 50 Cent’s Farmington mansion to take major stake

Photo | The state of Connecticut has sold its 25 Sigourney St. office tower in Hartford.

A Cromwell commercial realty investor has purchased a vacant state-owned skyscraper overlooking the Interstate 84 viaduct in Hartford, and says he plans to sell a majority interest in the 15-story tower to a Florida commercial real estate investor.

William Coons III and his Spartan Towers LLC unit late Friday completed its $1 million cash purchase of the 627,401-square-foot Class A office tower and six-story, adjacent parking garage, 25 Sigourney St., where he plans to invest at least $7.5 million in capital improvements. Coons previously said renovating the building’s interior-exterior would likely cost about $30 million.

Hartford Business Journal was first to report news of a possible deal in August.

As part of the sale, Coons said he plans to sell a membership interest in Spartan Towers LLC to Florida commercial investor and restaurateur Casey Askar, who will oversee the tower’s operations.

Photo | Contributed
Casey Askar

Once Askar buys the majority interest in Spartan Towers LLC, Coons will be issued a 10% interest in the unit.

Askar’s pending investment marks his second in Connecticut. 

Last year, Askar and his real estate investment unit Askar Management Group LLC, of Naples, Fla., spent $2.9 million to acquire a 50,000-square-foot Farmington mansion owned by Rapper 50 Cent.

Askar Brands also operates several quick-service and casual dining restaurants across the nation, including Papa Romano’s, Papa’s Pizza To-Go, Breadeaux Pizza, Blackjack Pizza, Mr. Pita, Stucchi’s Ice Cream and CJ’s Brewing Co. His real estate portfolio also owns and operates retail and office space, industrial buildings, and 47 Dunkin’ locations across southeast Florida.

Askar in a statement Friday said he “feels deeply committed to investing” in Connecticut.

“I believe the 25 Sigourney St. building is the gateway to Parkville and holds a lot of promise for business growth for our metro area, and I’m excited to see its future tenants flourish in this space,” he said.

Coons, a local realty investor who still plans to support daily operations at 25 Sigourney St., said a major renovation of the tower needed backing from a “substantial investor.” He added that Askar is the “perfect person” to lead a rehabilitation of the building, which once housed several state offices before moving to 450 Columbus Boulevard in downtown Hartford.

"I am thrilled and excited for Hartford to have found an investor like Casey Askar,” Coons said. “Casey…has done this before in Detroit where he took a large building, similar to this, and turned it around.”

One major benefit from the tower’s sale is that it’s now privately owned, thus returning it to the city’s taxable-property rolls. Most municipal-owned real estate in Connecticut is exempt from property taxes.

Spartan Towers LLC late last year agreed to make at least $2.3 million in improvements to the office building within the next five years as part of a tax abatement deal. The agreement with the city in December will save the tower’s owners $2.1 million over a decade.

According to the abatement agreement, the property will yield a property tax commencing in the 2019 grand list (from July 2020 to Jan. 2021) of $180,000 in the first four years; $210,000 in years five to seven; and $250,000 in years eight to 10.

It also guarantees the tower's owners will ensure that 30% of construction hours on the redevelopment are performed by city residents, and that 15 percent of job hours are performed by minority and women-owned businesses.

In Aug. 2018, the state Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which oversees the purchase, sale and maintenance of state taxpayer-owned assets, said it was offering the building “as is” and that the sale proceeds would be put into the state’s General Fund.

Built in 1984 by Richard Gordon, the real-estate developer who once owned the Hartford Whalers, the tower housed commercial tenants such as Hartford health insurer Aetna and Xerox Corp.’s regional copier-office equipment sales and customer-service teams.

The state purchased the tower for $42.6 million in 1994, and fully vacated the site three years ago. Due to water leaks, it also spent about $6 million to replace the building's roof, and remove wallboard and carpet. The tower was declared clean in 2004.

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December 31, 2020

Getting that building into private hands is the
most important and assuming Askar is as reported,
he could make this a commercial success.

February 23, 2020

This should have been given to an experienced operator of large commercial properties. Hartford cant afford any experiments. The city is in trouble and may be in need of someone who understands real estate and its operations. This should have been granted a long term abatement and it would have attracted the true type of investor that brings value and attraction but instead has now a group that will most likely fail. I wish them good luck because Hartford needs it

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