Potential residents are clamoring for apartments at the Hartford 21 project in downtown Hartford.

A bird’s-eye view of Hartford seems to be a popular commodity these days, as older couples and young professionals clamor for apartments in the soon-to-be-completed 34-story apartment tower in Northland Investment Corp.’s Hartford 21 project.

And after the 262 luxury apartments are filled, there will likely be more demand for similar products, said Peter Standish, Newton, Mass.-based Northland Investment’s senior vice president of acquisitions and development.

“So far it’s been great,” Standish said of the interest.

The company is maintaining a list of about 250 interested parties who are ready to put down a deposit on an apartment. The waiting list for the penthouse apartments has exceeded the supply; 12 people are interested in the four units. Northland is getting in touch with most of the people on the list, and has already signed up the first group of renters.

Many of the potential renters are older couples, Standish said, but there is a fair amount of young professionals who are also interested in the apartments.

The apartments are somewhat unique. High off the ground and glass-sided, there is nothing else in Hartford that is similar. Northland was not surprised by the demand, Standish said, adding that he believes the market could withstand more luxury apartments.

“We’ve always believed there’s latent demand out there,” he said. “People really are interested in coming back downtown.”

The construction of the 1 million-square-foot, $151 million retail center and luxury apartment high-rise in downtown Hartford began in the summer of 2004. It is scheduled for completion in September, but some of the apartments will be ready for tenancy in early summer, Standish said.

The project took the place of the old Hartford Civic Center, and will include retail on the ground floor. Northland also hopes the YMCA will move into the building and take up 37,000 square feet. That deal is still in negotiations.

Northland has not yet announced any retailers for the project, but Standish said the company is in various stages of negotiation. There has been enough interest to lease all of the space, he noted.

‘A Meaningful Thing’

Although the identities of the retailers have not been revealed, Northland executives have said they hope to attract stores that will support the residential side of the project, Standish said shortly after construction started on the project. Dry cleaners and boutique shops are possible and the company has been in contact with a grocery store – smaller than industry giants such as Stop & Shop – that also will sell prepared food.

The project is also connected to the just-reopened Hilton Hartford, which underwent a $33 million renovation.

Hartford 21 is part of former Gov. John Rowland’s “Six Pillars of Progress” that are intended to revitalize downtown Hartford.. In addition to the retail and residential components of the project, there will be 93,000 square feet of office space, 800 parking spaces and a 35,000-square-foot public space with a 50-foot-high atrium and entrance to the 16,600-seat Veterans Memorial Coliseum, according to documents from Northland Investments.

The project is intended to join with other downtown projects such as Adriaen’s Landing – a retail center on the waterfront that houses the recently-opened Marriott hotel – to bring more people to Hartford.

Another idea that could bring more people into the city has been unveiled by Northland Investment Corp. President Lawrence R. Gottesdiener. He announced late last year that he would like to bring another National Hockey League team to the city, eight years after the Whalers left.

“We’ve got our own money, we’re willing to invest in an arena, and we’re willing to buy a team,” Gottesdiener said at the time. “It would be an important entity and symbol of the city, the region and the state to provide a first-class venue for the residents.”

The company continues to support the idea of the team and a new arena where they could play, Standish said. Hartford Whalers fans were truly devoted, he noted, and it would mean a lot to bring a team back to the state’s capital city.

“It would be a meaningful thing to have that,” he said.

Northland has been investing in Hartford in other ways, as well, as it bought the Goodwin Square Hotel & Office Tower late last year. Northland purchased the office building and hotel for $41 million from New Goodwin Square LLC, an entity controlled by Boston-based AEW Capital Management.

“We’re very pleased with the [company’s] activity [in Hartford],” Standish said.