HARTFORD — A dreary, but prominent corner of Pearl and Trumbull streets in downtown Hartford — notable for a clock tower that hasn’t worked in years — is getting a makeover as the city pushes beyond the pandemic, aimed at attracting people to spend time at the corner, not just cross through it.

The owners of the 100 Pearl St. office tower and the building’s signature tenant, Hartford HealthCare, are partnering on the upgrades that will include the installation of a glass “cube” patterned after Apple’s on Fifth Avenue in New York, intended to signal Hartford HealthCare’s commitment to innovation.

The improvements are part of a larger, up to $24 million renovation planned for the two-towered office building joined by an atrium. The costs are being split by Hartford HealthCare, the parent of Hartford Hospital and six others in Connecticut and building landlord, Shelbourne Global Solutions LLC, of Brooklyn, New York.

The upgrades for the plaza include the removal of concrete planters that will be replaced by a landscaped plaza enclosing a new seating area with posts that will provide illumination at night. The clock tower will be repaired so it will once again show the time. It also is possible there will be an LED video wall displaying health-related messages from Hartford HealthCare.

The health system’s name and logo will be displayed prominently in several places on the building.

The improvements are now getting underway and are expected to be completed in October.

The upgrades “make the streetscape into an inviting area, modernize the building while using historic components,” said Ben Schlossberg, managing member of Shelbourne, downtown’s largest commercial landlord.

Jeffrey Flaks, Hartford HealthCare’s chief executive, said Friday the investment in 100 Pearl St. is an example of the health system’s goal to invest in cities it serves to strengthen urban corridors, with health care becoming an economic driver.

The partners announced plans for 100 Pearl St. just before COVID-19 struck last spring. The plans included Hartford HealthCare leasing 80,000 square feet with an option for another 30,000 square feet, a boost to a building that had previously suffered from high vacancy.

Hartford HealthCare also said it intended to bring 700 workers downtown to the building, the largest number for its “access center” that will eventually coordinate patient care and schedule appointments across Hartford HealthCare’s 400 locations in Connecticut. Of the 700, about half were expected to be new hires, mostly for the access center.

The pandemic slowed down plans for the building. But, as of Friday, about 230 employees of the health system now were assigned to the building. Those employees also included members of Hartford HealthCare’s legal department and the office that manages vendor agreements.

“We will continue to bring in a strong workforce to the city of Hartford,” Flaks said. “It is about bringing economic vitality to the city and the region.”

One change from initial announcement is that Hartford HealthCare will keep its “venture studio” at the main Hartford Hospital campus off Seymour Street, rather than bringing it to Pearl Street. Flaks has said there will still be plenty of innovation at 100 Pearl St. with at its access center.

The center follows on the health system’s $250 million investment over the last decade putting all its health records into one electronic system across its hospitals, primary care offices, home care, rehabilitation, behavior health and urgent care.

Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at kgosselin@courant.com.

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LINK: Prominent downtown Hartford corner to get upgrades, inviting people to stop, not just cross through, as part of larger $24M renovation

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