HARTFORD, Connecticut (HBJ) — Though the region’s office market has mostly been in a holding pattern since COVID-19 hit Connecticut more than 10 months ago, there have been some bright spots.
One of the largest and most recent examples is a new downtown lease signed by IT outsourcing giant HCL Technologies, which this month followed through on its Feb. 2020 pre-pandemic promise that it would plant its flag downtown in order to serve its client Stanley Black & Decker.
HCL recently signed a lease for nearly 16,700 square feet of Class A office space at 10 State House Square, the Hartford Business Journal has learned.
The deal follows HCL competitor Infosys leasing three floors inside downtown’s Goodwin Square building in 2018.
From its so-called “global delivery center” on the third floor of 10 State House Square, HCL’s team of engineers, salespeople and other staffers aims to scale up to serve other companies in the region’s manufacturing, aerospace, insurance and other sectors, said Arthur Filip, HCL’s executive vice president of sales transformation and marketing.
HCL is taking over space that’s been ceded by insurance giant Travelers Cos.
Filip said the newly leased space has the capacity to house about 150 workers, both new hires and relocated employees, but did not say exactly how many would be based downtown in the near term. HCL, which has nearly 160,000 full-time employees worldwide, launched a remote-work plan last March as the coronavirus pandemic spread, he noted.
“In all of our global offices, our employees’ return to work will be completely prioritized on their health and safety and will be in line with vaccinations, state regulations and health protocols,” Filip said. “In the meantime, we have scaled up our infrastructure to support secure remote operations wherever possible.”
He said HCL was drawn to State House Square because of its downtown location, infrastructure and retail and leisure amenities.
“We are pleased to be in the heart of the city and look forward to greater collaboration with Hartford,” Filip said.
In a statement, Stanley Black & Decker said HCL’s new office will “continue to add to Hartford’s presence as a significant digital and technology innovation hub.”
HCL, which this month reported that its annual revenue had surpassed $10 billion, plans to occupy its new downtown space in March.
In the meantime, renovation crews will be building out offices, conference areas, break rooms, a cafe and completing other electrical and mechanical upgrades, said David Jakubowski, State House Square’s general manager.
He said the building’s elevators will be replaced this year as part of a multimillion-dollar upgrade across State House Square’s three addresses, which also include 90 and 50-58 State House Square.
Jakubowski said he feels fortunate that State House Square won the nearly six-year HCL lease deal, given the pandemic and the fact that the company had kicked the tires at several competing properties.
While the HCL lease was a big win for State House Square, the property’s leasing activity has been approximately break-even for the past year, Jakubowski said.
Many office tenants have employees who are still working remotely to varying extents, which means the food court has been quiet, but Jakubowski said he’s hopeful that 2021 will be stronger for his buildings as well as the broader area office market.
“I think a lot of the corporate real estate users are optimistic that once we get the vaccines distributed that we’ll have most of our office employees back to work,” he said.
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