Hartford's 'vibe' excites 100 Pearl's new owners

BY Gregory Seay

Matt Pilon
Matt Pilon
100 Pearl St.
With title to the 100 Pearl St. skyscraper firmly in hand, the New York investors who own both it and the nearby "Stilts Building'' say the revitalization of downtown Hartford has them itching to own more.

Benjamin Schlossberg, managing member of Brooklyn-based Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC, confirmed Thursday that he and his partners officially closed late Wednesday on their purchase of the blue, glass-sheathed, 17-story tower from The Silverman Group of New Jersey.

Listing broker CBRE-New England said the building sold for $36.85 million.

Shelbourne Pearl LLC paid about $128 a foot, Schlossberg said, including cash and $28 million in financing through French investment bank Natixus. Silverman Group reportedly paid $18 million cash for 100 Pearl in 2010.

100 Pearl is the second downtown Hartford commercial office play for Shelbourne Global Solutions. Last July, it shelled out $45 million for a 95 percent equity stake in the Stilts Building, two blocks away at 20 Church St.

Indeed, Schlossberg said the partners view 100 Pearl and 20 Church as "sisters'' to each other. He said the close timing of both deals reflects Shelbourne's keen optimism that the rebirth of downtown Hartford as a residential, commercial and cultural hub is at hand.

"We're crazy for the Hartford market,'' Schlossberg told Deal Watch Today. "We were crazy about Hartford a year ago."

The new ballpark underway in downtown's northern edge, UConn's pending opening of its downtown campus that will attract students and instructors, and the conversion of older office space into apartments are proof of the center city's resurgence, he said.

"Every day there are new changes,'' he said. "There's a new vibe. You can feel the rejuvenation of the city in the air. … We look forward to doing more here."

Schlossberg declined to say what other downtown commercial properties Shelbourne is eyeing.

As for 100 Pearl, 99 percent of its 281,000 square feet is filled, he said. There are no immediate plans to invest in the tower beyond the expense to "maintain that high level of quality in the building.'' Shelbourne hired Carrow Real Estate Services of Albany, N.Y., to manage 100 Pearl.

At 20 Church, that building, too, is above 90 percent occupancy, Schlossberg said. The landlord has hired an architect to redesign the building's idle mezzanine space into leasable area.