HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Big employers in Hartford are planning to shed office space. It’s a trend being seen in cities nationwide as the economy emerges from the pandemic.

Prudential Financial along with United HealthCare are shrinking office spaces, which is a move driven by the company’s shift to hybrid models and employees working more from home. Cost-cutting decisions opened the door for more housing and economic development opportunities.

“You’re going to see more and more companies downsizing. The trend is not going to stop,” said David Griggs, CEO of MetroHartford Alliance.

Insurance companies are reducing their footprint in Hartford with remote working still a norm. Operating out of the the38-story building, City Place, United HealthCare is downsizing its 360,000 square foot office footprint to around 57,000 square feet of space.

Prudential Financial will scale back to around 25,000 square feet from 250,000 square feet.

“What we are seeing in Hartford is more amplified. It’s because of the types of jobs by insurance companies that could be for working at home,” said Chris Ostop, Managing Director at JLL.

Ostop says there’s been a 20 percent reduction in office spaces city-wide. Fewer business workers have impacted existing retailers.

“We miss the office workers desperately. They became our friends over the years,” said Jody Morneault, Co-owner of Morneault’s Stackpole Moore Tyron.

In a response to the dramatic downsizings of office leases, Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement, “We’re facing a massive disruption in the office market, and that means we have to be all the more aggressive in accelerating residential development and supporting downtown retail, restaurants, sports, entertainment, and culture.”

“Downtown should be a residential neighborhood and an entertainment district. We need people to come down here not just for work,” Griggs said.

Work is being done to convert a building at the corner of Pratt and Trumbull Streets into residential housing. The plan is to have over 100 apartment units. Businesses old and new hope to take advantage of the increased number of residents.

Along Pratt Streets, there’s redevelopment activity, including a new bakery opening, founded by two sisters feeling optimistic about the city’s future. The city has added nearly 3,000 rentals over the last decade.

“There are a lot of new buildings too that have gone up in the last five years. A block from here, the Yard Goats Stadium and an apartment building there. A lot of growth and change in Hartford. We are excited to be part of it,” said Alex Pilon and Monica Beaudoin, co-owners of Bloom Bake Shop.

Bronin thinks the city will be able to continue to attract new businesses as he says office lease rates are more affordable than in other cities.