Nonprofit Organization Buying New Britain Downtown Office Tower

Don Stacom
Contact Reporterdstacom@courant.com

The landmark Plaza office tower downtown is going to become the new home of Community Mental Health Affiliates, the nonprofit organization announced.

CMHA is buying the seven-story office building and plans to use most of its 85,000 square feet for clinic space and offices.

“We are consolidating programs under one roof, we are making services more accessible to the people we serve, cementing our commitment to the city, and bringing dozens of people every day into the heart of the city,” said Raymond Gorman, CMHA’s president and chief executive officer.

“This move will have an immense and positive impact on the city,” Mayor Erin Stewart said in a statement. “Having CMHA downtown will help us with everything we’re trying to do. All these people working here every day will continue the revitalization of downtown and help our businesses.”

Stewart dismissed complaints that some business owners aired last year when they heard CMHA was planning a downtown center.

“Mental health continues to have a stigma, which we have to fight,” Stewart said.

The state Bond Commission in July approved $3 million to help the agency buy and renovate the landmark building.

Located in the heart of downtown directly across from Central Park, the Plaza served for years as the headquarters of ACMAT Corp. The company moved out seven years ago, and Bank of America left its first-floor space two years later.

In recent years, business leaders have tried to persuade Central Connecticut State University to lease or buy the building as a downtown campus. Before that, the Plaza’s owners had promoted the building as space for law firms or a downtown medical center for the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Others suggested conversion to apartments or condominiums.

But despite the establishment of CTfastrak’s main station just a few blocks away, no developers or buyers came forward.

CMHA initially planned its headquarters for the Mitch’s Place building on Main Street, but decided instead to move to the larger Plaza building. CMHA said two outpatient clinics for behavioral health clinics will move in before the year is over. In 2019, CMHA will relocate its youth adult outpatient services there, too.

CMHA said it will continue the leases held by the Plaza’s only tenants, the Social Security Administration and the state workers’ compensation commission.

Copyright © 2018, CT Now
29°