The conversion of two vacant, decaying office buildings in the heart of downtown into apartments will ramp up next month, giving a lift to a key corner across from the city’s signature CityPlace office complex.
The New York firms of Girona Ventures and Wonder Works Construction and Development Corp. will redevelop the buildings at 95-101 and 111 Pearl St. into 258 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments in a $51 million project.
The redevelopment is part of a four-year wave of apartment conversions in and around downtown adding hundreds of apartments to help boost vibrancy beyond the traditional work week. Key to the development has been taxpayer-backed loans and equity investments.
Last week, Girona and Wonder Works purchased the two neighboring buildings on the corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets, each for $625,000, according to city records.
The sellers — a partnership of Martin J. Kenny, who developed the nearby Trumbull on the Park apartments; Alan Lazowski, chief executive and co-founder of LAZ Parking,f and Sanford Cloud, also a developer — were unsuccessful in putting together financing for a rental conversion.
This is the second project for Girona and Wonder Works in Hartford. In 2015, the partners completed the $26 million conversion of the old Sonesta hotel on Constitution Plaza into the 190-unit Spectra apartments. The apartments remain at or near full occupancy.
Jeffrey D. Ravetz, president of Girona Ventures, said Monday he is equally as bullish for the Pearl Street project.
“We feel the pulse in Hartford,” Ravetz said. “We feel there is pent-up demand. The challenge for Hartford is that it doesn’t have enough quality apartments for people.”
Apartment developers in downtown are competing heavily on amenities and Pearl Street will be no exception, offering partially furnished units, screening…