Creating housing and reducing commercial vacancy to revitalize a historic downtown

777 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut

In 1963, Hartford National Bank hired famed west-coast architect Welton Beckett to design an iconic building across from Connecticut’s historic old state house. As the years passed, ownership changed, and eventually this 26-story tower stood vacant, a tangible reminder of the struggles the city of Hartford, Connecticut had endured. "This was on the priority list for the City of Hartford and the state: a historic conversion of a prominent - and iconic- vacant business tower to residential use."

Last year, Becker + Becker bought the building with the intention of transforming it into a residential tower. Conversion of the vacant building to residential apartments will cut downtown Hartford’s commercial vacancy rate significantly, while boosting desirable housing, a key component in the city’s vision of a revitalized and vibrant downtown. The tower will house 285 rental apartments—a mix of market-rate, moderate-income, and affordable units—with a full level of resident amenities, as well as substantial retail on the ground and basement levels.

The building is listed on both the Connecticut and National Historic Registries; with the retrofit, it will also achieve LEED Platinum certification. This attention to environmental factors was a major attraction for BCC’s Loan Fund. “BCC isn’t just looking at our pro forma,” Kent states. “Yes, they want to see financial success, but they have a deep interest in the social and environmental goals inherent in the project—our efforts to reduce blight in downtown Hartford and to reduce the environmental load of a building this size,” Kent concludes. “It’s a striking difference between BCC and many other funding sources.”