St. Paul Travelers’ 87,220-square-foot lease at One Financial Plaza in Hartford has left the building nearly 100 percent occupied.

It looks like the vacancy rate in Hartford’s central business district will drop a few more points by the end of the third quarter now that St. Paul Travelers has recommitted to the city with a new 87,220-square-foot lease at One Financial Plaza.

“[The lease] dropped the vacancy rate significantly,” said Andrew Fuller of CB Richard Ellis. Fuller and John McCormick, also of CB Richard Ellis, represented Talcott Realty Investors, the landlord, in the transaction.

The deal lowered the vacancy rate to 13.2 percent, according to Fuller. The vacancy rate for the central business district at the end of the second quarter was 16.56 percent. The rate has been dropping steadily, going from 20.62 percent in 2005 to 19.78 percent in the first quarter of 2006, and dropping further at the end of the second quarter.

“I think this is an important deal for Hartford,” Fuller said, adding that it represents a recommitment to the city by a company that has called it home for a long time. St. Paul Travelers is based in St. Paul, Minn., but the company is the result of a 2004 merger between St. Paul Cos. and Travelers Property Casualty, which was based in Hartford.

The building’s owners characterized the transaction as one of the most important with which they have been involved, Fuller said. The lease goes a long way toward stabilizing One Financial Plaza, leaving it almost 100 percent occupied. St. Paul Travelers’ offices will take up the fifth to the eighth floors, which have been vacant since Talcott bought the building in 2000. The company also has a 200,000-square-foot lease at State House Square.

“St. Paul Travelers’ lease is one of the most important transactions for Talcott, One Financial Plaza and, in my opinion, the city of Hartford,” said Martin Kane, senior vice president with Talcott Realty Investors. “Travelers’ commitment to this city exemplifies corporate leadership and recognition of the quality of life that our region has to offer.”

The transaction follows several other large deals in the third quarter that have delighted commercial real estate brokers. Aetna Inc. in late July announced it will make a capital investment of about $219 million to improve its Hartford campus over the next several years, and that it will consolidate most of its Middletown-based employees into the Rogers and Tower buildings in the city.

That announcement was followed by last month’s news that The Travelers Indemnity Co. has signed a lease expansion for a total of 391,000 square feet at State House Square – the largest lease transaction in Hartford’s central business district in 10 years.

The good news was further strengthened by the announcement that the hedge fund GlobeOp Financial Services has signed a lease for 20,000 square feet in Goodwin Square.

One Financial Plaza, where St. Paul Travelers signed its new lease, is located at 775 Main St. and is a signature Class A office tower that is sometimes known as “The Gold Building” because of its gold facade. Richard Mulready of Servus Brokerage Services represented St. Paul Travelers in the transaction.

One Financial Plaza was built in 1974. Its tenants include United Technology Corp.’s corporate headquarters, Accenture, People’s Bank, Reid & Riege, Berman & Sable and IBM.

St. Paul Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance and surety products and of risk management services to a wide variety of businesses, organizations and individuals. The company reported 2005 revenues of $24.4 billion and total assets of $113.2 billion. The company’s products are distributed primarily through U.S. independent insurance agents and brokers. Travelers, a member of St. Paul Travelers, is the second-largest writer of auto and homeowners insurance through independent agents.

St. Paul Travelers, in addition to its Minnesota headquarters and significant operations in Hartford, has offices in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.

Travelers renewed 181,000 square feet and expanded by 210,000 square feet in State House Square, which brings that building’s occupancy to 96 percent. The lease carries a term of 10 years and six months.

Aetna’s announcement came on July 28. The company made the decision after ING left the Tower building, and after Aetna did a strategic assessment of the company’s facilities needs in Connecticut.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development is working with the company to provide financial incentives to support the project. The city of Hartford also has entered into an agreement to sell Aetna tax liens on certain city parcels on Laurel and Hawthorne streets, and has entered into several long-term lease agreements on existing surface parking lots to accommodate the company’s parking needs.