New Twist On Downtown Hartford Apartments: ‘Co-Living’ For Startup Entrepreneurs

By Kenneth R. Gosselin The Hartford Courant

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Participants selected for the "Upward Labs" program will live in the new apartments for six month stretches. The apartments incorporate large common areas with community kitchens, pool tables, areas that can host special events and eventually a rooftop terrace.


In the 1890s, Heublein emerged as a homegrown innovator in the alcohol distilling industry, bottling the first "club cocktails" in a factory on Trumbull Street in downtown Hartford.

More than a century later, on the same site, the creators of Upward Hartford -- a hub of 21st-century entrepreneurs and innovators -- are developing 32 units of cutting-edge "co-living" apartments at 196 Trumbull St. in a $3.2 million renovation.

The rentals, named "Upward Living," are intended to provide short-term housing for participants in new, six month stints at Upward Hartford. The stints focus on start-up companies trying to develop new technologies for "smart buildings" and for serving the country's aging -- and longer living -- population.

Participants selected for the "Upward Labs" program will live in the new apartments -- expected to be ready by the end of June -- that will also incorporate large common areas with community kitchens, pool tables, areas that can host special events and eventually a rooftop terrace.

Upward Living is intended to foster community building among residents of similar interests quickly because of the short duration of Upward Labs.

But there is a longer-term goal: develop a connection with Hartford, perhaps encouraging participants to stay in the city and establish -- and hopefully -- expand their companies, Shana Schlossberg, the founder and chief executive of Upward Hartford, said.

"In a city like Hartford, to be honest, if a start-up goes out at night, yes, Trumbull Kitchen is amazing and they have Dish," Schlossberg said. "But it's not 7th Avenue in New York. And many of them are coming from Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv. This house will be activated 24/7."

Over the next two years, Upward Labs will receive up to $3.9 million from Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-public state agency that invests in early-stage companies, seen as critical to the state's economic future. The investment will help fund the work by the start-ups participating the program.

The 4-story building at 196 Trumbull was purchased by Shelbourne Global Solutions of Brooklyn, N.Y. last year. Shelbourne's managing member is Benjamin Schlossberg, Shana Schlossberg's brother.

Since 2014, Shelbourne has rapidly added to its commercial real estate holdings downtown which include 20 Church, where Upward Hartford is located.

In February, Shelbourne announced the purchase of a major portion of the north side of Pratt Street, around the corner from 196 Trumbull, and it has a pending deal to buy the iconic One Financial Plaza, the "Gold Building" with a partner, LAZ Parking.

Shana Schlossberg said the rents for the one-bedroom -- ranging in size from 400 to 450 square feet -- are expected to run about $2,100 a month, including everything from utilities and internet to cleaning. Schlossberg maintained the rents are below what other "short-term" rentals go for in the city.

"You land, turnkey, you're in," Schlossberg said.

One attraction of Upward Labs is the opportunity for participants to work with more than two dozen local companies that have partnered with the program. They include Stanley Black & Decker, which has opened its Hartford accelerator to promote research into 3D printing and other advanced technologies; health insurer Aetna Inc., now a part of CVS Health Corp.; and commercial real estate services firm JLL.

At a press conference Thursday announcing Upward Living, Marty Guay, Stanley's vice president of business development, said efforts such as the Stanley accelerator and Upward Hartford are key to the future of Hartford and other cities.

"The battleground for talent around the world is being won and lost in cities," Guay said. "Cities need to be competitive. Hartford will be competitive by people working together."

Guay said he could envision entrepreneurs at Stanley's accelerator living at 196 Trumbull, sharing thoughts with those from Upward Labs, perhaps sparking even more innovative ideas.

Benjamin Schlossberg said efforts by Upward Hartford and Stanley will boost the city's revitalization.

"Years ago, when the press interviewed me, I would talk about the Hartford vibe," Benjamin Schlossberg said. "Nobody knew what I was talking about. Everybody knows today,and feels that vibe, and where Hartford is going."

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