Grunberg Realty, which purchased 777 Main St. in Hartford in late March, is moving ahead with its plans for the 26-story structure.

New York City-based Grunberg Realty has wrapped up its purchase of 777 Main St. in Hartford and is now moving forward with plans for the building.

The company – which completed the deal in late March – bought the 26-story building for more than $12 million and hopes its largest existing tenant, Bank of America, will want to expand its presence in the building. There is also the possibility that the new owner will convert some of the upper floors into condominiums, according to Michael Grunberg of Grunberg Realty.

But the first priorities are upgrading the building and waiting for Bank of America’s answer on whether it will bring more employees to downtown Hartford.

“I will put my money where my mouth is if they put feet on the street,” Grunberg said.

A call to Bank of America was not returned by press time.

The building is 58 percent leased and Bank of America takes up the lower half of the building. Grunberg also plans to expand parking in the Class B facility. Currently there is not enough onsite parking available, so the company plans to build more on top of the existing parking garage, and possibly expand parking behind the building.

Although Grunberg emphasized that commercial expansion is the first priority for 777 Main St., he said he is excited about the prospect of a condo conversion.

“The potential is amazing,” he noted. “It’s a really well-built building.”

The high ceilings and small floor plates would make a conversion easy, and the views from the higher floors are at least as good as those in the nearly completed luxury apartment tower that is part of Hartford 21, Grunberg said.

“It has the most incredible views,” he said. “I would like very much to do mixed-use.”

‘Very Happy’

The location of the building – at Main and Pearl streets in the central business district – is ideal, he added. The building itself has a lot of potential, Grunberg said.

“Great building, great location,” he said. “We could see some gorgeous, large apartments.”

The sale of 777 Main St. made news earlier this year when Newton, Mass.-based Northland Investments filed a lawsuit against the building’s former owner, American Financial Realty Trust, saying the company backed out of a deal to sell the building to Northland for $12 million, according to The Hartford Courant. The suit was eventually dismissed, according to a Northland spokeswoman.

In the end, Grunberg Realty won the bid for the property, paying more than $12 million.

The sale was very closed, without any advertisement, and Grunberg said he is pleased with the deal.

“I’m very happy with my purchase,” he said.

The Main Street building is Grunberg’s third property in Hartford. His firm also owns the Medical Arts Building on Woodland Street, and in 2004 paid $65 million for the 29-story office building at 280 Trumbull St. – one of the biggest office building sales in downtown Hartford in the last decade and a half. The New Boston Fund sold that 672,000-square-foot Class A office building for $97 per square foot.

The Trumbull Street property is across the street from the Hartford Hilton Hotel and Hartford 21, which is seeing healthy demand for its luxury apartments. The building at 280 Trumbull St. was voted Building of the Year in 1999 and 2000 by the Building Owners & Managers Association, according to CB Richard Ellis.

Hartford’s downtown revitalization has heightened both commercial and residential activity in the area. The building at 777 Main St. is near the new Connecticut Convention Center and recently opened Hartford Marriott Downtown hotel.

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 building at 777 Main St. totals 346,411 square feet and has an 11,326-square-foot, 5-story parking garage, according to New York City-based Broad Street Advisors, the firm that represented the seller, American Financial Realty Trust. Keith Broemmer, executive vice president and partner at Broad Street, handled the transaction.

“Grunberg was attracted to the property due to its central location and construction features, which provide spectacular views of Hartford,” Broemmer said in a prepared statement. “Bank of America anchors the building, but the existing vacancy provides the flexibility to explore other options, including residential [uses].”