Relocation of The Hartford Employees Leaves Challenge for Southington

The announcement this week that the insurance giant will let the lease run out in 2012 leaves a hole in the town’s grand list and tax base, officials say.

When the lease runs out for The Hartford Insurance in September 2012, the Connecticut insurance giant will vacate its offices at 400 Executive Boulevard — taking over $4 million in taxable personal property with them.

Town Assessor Brian Lastra said the vacated offices will leave the town with an estimated $115,000 shortfall in tax income, most coming from personal property taxes.

“They were one of the top 10 taxpayers in terms of personal property, with an assessment at $4,732,707,” Lastra said. “It’s a big loss.”

Thomas Hambrick, spokesman for The Hartford, said the decision was made by the company earlier this month to consolidate offices in an effort to save money.

No employees will be laid off, Hambrick said, but will rather be shifted from rented offices in Southington and Farmington to owned properties in Hartford, Windsor and Simsbury.

The number of employees being relocated is not being disclosed at this time, Hambrick said.

“We are consolidating [our] real estate footprint,” Hambrick said. “When our lease runs out in September 2012, we will vacate the office space.”

He said a move would begin in early 2012.

The end of the lease will have little affect on real estate, Lastra said, and the town has already started looking at the best way to replace the loss in grand list property, Town Manager Garry Brumback told the Record-Journal earlier this week.

Lou Perillo, Southington’s Economic Development Coordinator, said the town has been looking at ways to draw businesses to the West Street corridor for the past two years now.

“This wasn’t entirely unexpected,” Perillo said. “When they pulled out of two office buildings a few years ago, we knew they were moving towards using their own space rather than leasing. Even though they are one of our top taxpayers, the most important thing to the state is that they are retaining the jobs.”

The town earlier this month held a networking breakfast that brought brokers and developers together, something Perillo said is essential in helping fill the void quickly.

Filling the space will be a challenge in this type of economy, he said, but is not an impossible task.

“The advance notice is a huge benefit. Having a year and four months will give us time to prepare and look to fill that space so it is not sitting vacant. It could be something we use to revamp the entire corridor,” Perillo said.

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