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Virtus goes for 'The Gold'

BY Gregory Seay

5/16/2018
HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Downtown's One Financial Plaza, the “Gold Building.”
Hartford wealth-manager Virtus Investments Inc. is keeping headquarters downtown, but will relocate from its long-time Pearl Street home to the "Gold Building," one block away at 755 Main St.

A Virtus spokesman said the firm announced its relocation decision Wednesday to employees, many of whom are housed in the 100 Pearl St. skyscraper.

The relocation to The Gold's upper two floors once occupied by United Technologies Corp. and portions of two others -- totaling about 65,000 square feet -- will be completed by year-end, Virtus spokesman Joseph Fazzino said.

As of the first quarter, Virtus had $89 billion in assets under management.

"The Gold Building offers what we are looking for in a headquarters location and is well suited for the company we have become," Virtus CEO George Aylward said in an online missive alerting employees about their new home.

The opportunity to mount its corporate logo atop a taller building, one housing the 100-seat Take Five Cookery restaurant capable of catering functions, and with space for a fitness center, plus ample garage parking were key factors, Aylward said.

Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement he was "thrilled" by Virtus' choice to stay in downtown Hartford.

"They've dramatically grown their footprint in the Capital City over the last decade,'' Bronin said, "and their commitment to Hartford means a lot as we continue to cultivate a real revitalization and move from stability to strength."

Virtus disclosed in early April its search for a potential new home. The company said then it was weighing all options, but that it was possible it would remain at 100 Pearl.

Senior broker Michael Puzzo of CBRE/New England advised Virtus in its search.

Broker Andrew Filler, who heads the Hartford office of Boston commercial broker Avison Young LLC, represented the Gold's Hartford landlord, Talcott Realty Investors.

Filler said Virtus' lease, terms of which he declined to specify, is good news for Hartford's downtown office market, which stood at 18 percent vacancy at the close of 2017, according to CBRE's most recent Greater Hartford commercial-space survey.

"They were the biggest tenant in the market this year,'' Filler said. "They could have left the city, but they decided to stay.''

Virtus' impending Gold occupancy comes barely two years after United Technologies Corp. vacated about 120,000 square feet on all of top floors 25 and 26, plus space scattered on floors 19 and 20. UTC is now headquartered in Farmington.

With Virtus' lease, the 26-story skyscraper whose formal name is One Financial Plaza, is now more than 90 percent occupied, Filler said. The Gold was full before UTC's departure. People's United Bank has a branch on the building's ground floor.

As previously reported, Virtus has been a tenant in the 18-story, blue-tinted-window skyscraper at the northeast corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets since late 2008, just ahead of its 2009 spinoff from Hartford insurer The Phoenix Cos. Previously, Virtus was housed at 56 Prospect St., a building that utility-operator Eversource now owns.

Virtus' logo is visible atop the southern face of 100 Pearl.

It has approximately 170 Hartford staffers spread over about 65,000 square feet on four floors of 100 Pearl, up from about 110 workers a decade ago, according to Virtus spokesman Joe Fazzino. Virtus has another 440 workers spread among its other offices in New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Park Ridge, N.J.; Atlanta; and Orlando, Fla. — the latter pair added when Virtus acquired RidgeWorth Investments last June.