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SANTEE, CA-The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. will occupy all 77,000 sf of a new office building that will be the first of up to 1.5 million sf of offices at Santee Town Center Mission Gorge Road and Civic Center Drive.

Terms of the lease were not disclosed, except that it is a long-term deal at the two-story building, but John Strittmatter of contractor the Ryan Cos. tells GlobeSt.com it will be a $13 million construction project.

Strittmatter is president of the Ryan/Southwest division of the Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. He tells GlobeSt.com this is the construction company’s first project in California since the firm in 1994 established its Phoenix division, which has since built 6.5 million square feet of office and industrial property in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The Hartford space, which will occupy eight of the 104 acres at Santee Town Center, will accommodate an expansion of the company’s existing San Diego operations. The company is scheduled to move into the new space, which is already under construction, in May of 2003.

The insurer says it is expanding its presence in Southern California to better serve its growing business across the country providing auto and homeowners insurance to members of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, and other groups. Over the next three years, the company expects to add more than 100 jobs to its current work force of 485.

The Hartford building will be the first in what Keith Till, Santee city manager, describes to GlobeSt.com as “a master plan that could include a small retail component and some housing, and possibly even a small hotel” in addition to the office space. The town center is across the street from the 450,000-sf Trolley Square retail and restaurant development, which is due to be completed in October.

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