NEW BRITAIN - With the state’s efforts to acquire The Plaza for an expanded Central Connecticut State University downtown campus having apparently failed, the property owner this week has put the seven-story office building on the market.
H.J. Development of New York City has listed the 80,000-square-foot building at 233-235 Main St. with an asking price of $6.5 million. The real estate listing notes that the site is the city’s only Class A office space - a category defined by the Building Owners and Managers Association as “the most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the area.” Additionally, owners report the building was the subject of a $15 million renovation in the 1990s and most recently a capital improvement project resulting, in part, in the implementation of new software for an automated HVAC system.
The developer purchased the property for $2.8 million in 2012.
During an editorial board meeting with The Herald on Monday, Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, said the state is committed - with or without a deal for The Plaza - to expanding CCSU’s footprint in downtown, a prospect he called “good for Central and the economic development opportunities for New Britain.”
Ojakian did not participate in negotiations and could not confirm the status of dialogue related to the property. City officials have remained optimistic for decades that campus activity could be injected into downtown.
Accompanying the real estate listing is an undated 14-page report proposing how the CCSU Art Department could repurpose about half of The Plaza space. The ambitious plan, developed by H.J. Development, CCSU and Pirie Associates Architects, details, with artist’s renderings, plans to create art studios and classrooms, offices and conference areas as well as a public sculpture garden and main floor art gallery that would serve to integrate the site into the downtown culture and reenergize the corner of Bank and Main streets.
“To increase access to multi-modal transportation options, The Plaza owners are currently in talks with the city to install a public bike-share system similar to what is found in other forward-thinking cities and university towns,” reads a portion of the report. “This, along with the CTfastrak, is sure to provide students with the feeling they are minutes from it all.”
It is unclear when the report was developed. One exterior rendering depicts a proposed mural on the north façade of the neighboring building, with signage of its former occupant, Mitch’s Place. The discount retailer closed in 2014.
Ian Fishkin, in-house general counsel for H.J. Development, confirmed earlier this month that negotiations with the state Department of Administrative Services had broken down and the firm was considering putting the office building on the market.
CCSU President Zulma Toro in a February email to students and faculty said that the state was in the process of acquiring the building. At the time, she had directed the University Planning and Budget Committee to assemble ideas for using the downtown space, which would have been a sister location to CCSU’s Institute of Technology & Business Development at 185 Main St.