Nine consecutive months of home-sales hikes for state

 

 

Single-family home sales in Connecticut rose 2.0 percent in January, according to a new report from the Warren Group, publisher of The Commercial Record. This marks nine consecutive months of home sale increases in the Nutmeg State.

 

There were 1,435 single-family homes sold in the month of January, up from 1,402 in January 2013. More home sales were recorded this month than any other January since 2009.

 

 "The modest increase in single-family homes sales for January is smaller than the 6.0 percent increase that was recorded for the full year of 2013," said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group. "We expect to see bigger gains once the spring market gets in full swing. I think there is pent-up demand that will drive home sales upward."

 

The median price for Connecticut single-family homes sold in January was reported at $230,000, unchanged from January 2013.

 

"Median prices have remained flat on a year-over-year basis for three months in a row now," Warren said. "Higher interest rates may be holding down recent price increases. In 2013 median prices rose 8.3 percent."

 

Condominium sales in January fell by 7.0 percent with 387 recorded sales, down from 417 in January 2013.

 

Condo median prices also fell slightly in January. The median price decreased by less than half a percentage to $162,500 compared with $163,000 in January 2013.

 

For additional information visit thewarrengroup.com.

 John Wareck, partner and broker of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio, was recently elected chairman of the Commercial Investment Division (CID) of the New Haven Board of Realtors. Wareck has worked in the commercial real estate industry for nearly two decades. In 2005, he received a Business New Haven Rising Star award for the Johnson Simons downtown revitalization project. In 2011, Wareck and Frank D'Ostilio Jr. formed Wareck D'Ostilio Real Estate. The company joined Real Living in 2012.

 

 SALES

 

CLINTON — An 11.2-acre industrially zoned site at 30 Old Post Road has changed hands for $700,000. Kevin Geenty and Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the buyer, 30 Old Post, LLC and the seller, 30 Old Post Road Associates.

 

EAST HAVEN — ImagePaper.com, LLC has purchased 463-465 Main Street, a 19,897-square-foot commercial building on 1.15 acres, as well as a 696-square-foot home on 0.15 acres. The sales price was $445,000. The company is relocating from New Jersey. Fred A. Messore, of Colonial Properties was sole broker in the transaction. The seller was JT Ventures, LLC.

 

EAST HAVEN —  Brani and Renato Sekerovic have paid $106,000 for a 1,879-square-foot retail condo at 192 Main Street, where they pair plan to open a beauty salon and spa. Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the Sekerovics and the sellers, Gil and Glena Ames.

 

HAMDEN — Hamden Partners, a New Jersey LLC, has purchased Broadmoor Apartment Homes, a 498-unit, 419,220-square-foot apartment community at 676 Mix Avenue for $58,500,000, or $117,470 per unit. The complex houses 66 studio apartments, 288 one-bedroom and 144 two-bedroom apartments. Institutional Property Advisors (IPA) executive directors Steve Witten and Victor Nolletti advised the seller, Fairfield Apple Hill, a Delaware limited partnership.

 

HAMDEN — Mango, LLC has acquired the Carriage House, 2297 Whitney Avenue, for $836,750. The 19,470-square-foot building on 0.69 acres includes 42 single-room residential units. Ted Schaffer of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented the seller, House of Hamden, LLC, and procured the buyer.

 

HAMDEN — A 4,700-square-foot commercial building at 986 Dixwell Avenue has a new owner: 986 Dixwell Holding Co., LLC. The sale price was $385,000. Irfan Ahmed of Sette Real Estate represented the buyer. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented the seller, TDR Realty LLC.

 

MILFORD — A 49,625-square-foot flex building at 100 Washington Street has sold for $3.9 million. Jon Angel of Angel Commercial represented the seller, KC Cubed, LLC, and the buyer, 100 Washington Street, LLC. 

 

MILFORD — Bounce Town USA, LLC has leased a 14,576-square-foot light industrial space at 1770 Boston Post Road for children’s events with giant inflatables and a rock-climbing wall. Carl Russell and John Bergin of H. Pearce Commercial represented the tenant and the landlord, M&K Post Road Associates, LLC.

 

NEW HAVEN —  Three Fifty Orange Street LLC has acquired 348-350 Orange Street from the Professional Arts Group, LLC for $1.175 million. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented the buyer. John Keogh of Colliers International represented the seller. The 17,246-square-foot space comprises two four-story townhouses connected in the rear by a three-story building.

 

NORTH BRANFORD — Globe Electric, LLC is relocating its corporate headquarters from East Haven. The company has purchased a new 6,161-square-foot industrial building on 1.65 acres at 285 Branford Road for $500,000. Alan Fischer of Fischer Real Estate represented the seller, Michael Berkun. Jeff Dow of Dow Realty represented the buyer.

 

SOUTHINGTON — Advanta, LLC has purchased a 14,156-square-foot industrial building at 161 Atwater Street for $850,000.

 

Robert Gaucher and Carol Karney of OR&L Commercial represented the seller, Benito Brino. The buyer was unrepresented.

 

WALLINGFORD — HNRSJ, LLC has purchased a 6,600-square-foot caR wash on 1.02 acres at 893 North Colony Road for $1,612,000.  The Proto Group was the sole broker. The seller was Fulton Forbes. 

 

 

LEASES

 

 

ANSONIA —  Better Packages is relocating from Shelton to 4 Hershey Drive, where the company has leased 27,600 square feet of light industrial space. Bruce Wettenstein of Vidal-Wettenstein represented the tenant. Carl Russell of H. Pearce Real Estate represented the landlord, John A. Frey, et al.

 

BRANFORD — Progressive Benefits Solution, LLC has leased 4,500 square feet at 14 Business Park Drive. Lou Proto of the Proto Group represented the tenant. Richard Guralnick of H. Pearce Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord, BRP XIV, LLC.

 

BRANFORD —  Vedran Josic has leased 857 square feet at 71 West Main Street for a cell phone business. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented Josic and the landlord, 71 West Main LLC.

 

CHESHIRE — Osprey Strategic Research Group, LLC has leased 1,800 square feet at 1520 Highland Avenue. Tony Valenti and Ralph Calabrese of the R. Calabrese Agency LLC represented the tenant and the landlord, 1520 Highland Partners Inc.

 

HAMDEN — Bruno Distributors has leased 4,000 square feet at 1004-1020 Sherman Avenue. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was sole broker in the transaction. He is the exclusive broker for the landlord, WTE 100 Sherman, LLC.

 

HAMDEN — The Institute of Professional Practice has leased an additional 2,870 square feet at 1125 Dixwell Avenue.  The five-year lease is valued at $180,000.  The Proto Group represented the landlord, Elm City IP Holdings. Steve Wallman of Wallman Realty in Kensington represented the tenant.

 

MADISON — Dan & Joe’s Barber Shop and Meriano’s Bake Shoppe are new tenants at Madison Commons, 200 Boston Post Road. Each signed a five-year lease for 1,260 square feet. Joel Galvin of Pearce Commercial was sole broker in the deal. The landlord is Madison Commons, LLC.

 

MIDDLETOWN — MHS Primary Care Inc. has signed a ten-year lease for 8,660 square feet at 520 Saybrook Road. J. Richard Lee of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, SPIII Middletown LLC c/o Seavest Healthcare Properties of White Plains, N.Y.  The tenant was unrepresented. The lease is valued at close to $2 million. 

 

MILFORD — L.P. Dwyer & Sons has signed a five-year lease for 2,038 square feet at 338 New Haven Avenue. Carl Russell, Richard Lombardo and Eileen Russell of H. Pearce Commercial represented the landlord, Diamond Realty Associates. Lombardo also represented Dwyer.

 

MILFORD — Connecticut Cabinet Center LLC has leased 800 square feet at 158 Research Drive. The landlord is D'Amato Investments, LLC. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors was the sole broker.

 

NEW HAVEN — Noble Wealth Advisory Group of Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC has leased 4,000 square feet at 321 Whitney Avenue. Stephen Press and John M. Cuozzo, Jr. of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented the tenant and the landlord, 321 Whitney, LLC. 

 

NEW HAVEN — Diversified Employment Services has inked a two-year lease renewal for 1,864 square feet at Whalley Commons, 1463 Whalley Avenue. The Proto Group represented Diversified and the landlord, ACL/Smartyale, LLC of Atlanta.

 

NORTH HAVEN — Hertz Corp.'s car rental division has signed a five-year lease for 1,120 square feet at 311 Washington Avenue. Phil Barber Pearce Real Estate Co. represented both the tenant and the landlord, Luigi Ferraro.

 

OLD SAYBROOK — Bikes for Kids Inc. has leased 2,701 square feet at 20 Research Parkway. The non-profit refurbishes donated bikes and distributes them to children in need throughout Connecticut.  Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors was the sole agent. The landlord is Mill Meadow Development, LLC.

 

WATERBURY — Enterprise Rent-A-Truck has leased 2,000 square feet at 184 Kukus Lane. Bob Bowden of the R. Calabrese Agency represented the landlord, Straits Turnpike, LLC, as well as the tenant.

 

WEST HAVEN — The VA Connecticut Health System has signed a ten-year lease for a gated parking lot with 200 spaces at 325 Campbell Avenue. Frank Hird, SIOR of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, A+A Enterprises.

 

WEST HAVEN — Jianwen Zhang has inked a five-year lease for 1,200 square feet at 38 Saw Mill Road for a nail salon. The Proto Group represented the landlord, Mall-One LLC. Joseph Han of Weichert Regional Properties represented Zhang.

 

WEST HAVEN — Advanced Grow Labs has leased 26,000 square feet at 400 Frontage Road. Fred Frassinelli of AMS Real Estate represented the tenant. Carl Russell of Pearce real estate represented the landlord, TMC Eder LLC. Advanced is one of four state-approved medical marijuana growers in Connecticut.

 

 NORTH HAVEN — The former North Haven Holiday Inn at 201 Washington Avenue is flying a new flag.

A new member of the world’s largest hotel group, the Best Western Plus North Haven Hotel is owned and operated by WNW Hospitality Group. On opening day the hotel received the Best Western Chairman’s Award, the chain’s highest honor for outstanding quality standards, with a perfect score of 1,000. The hotel features 138 guest rooms and five suites. It also houses 8,200 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space to accommodate corporate confabs, banquets and weddings from 20 to 600 attendees.

 NEW HAVEN — For the third quarter in a row, greater New Haven reported the lowest apartment vacancy rate among 79 metropolitan areas tracked by the real-estate research firm Reis Inc. At the end of calendar 2013, New Haven’s apartment vacancy rate stood at 2.2 percent, down 0.4 percent from 12 months earlier. For the same period, average apartment rent in the market rose 2.5 percent, to $1,154.

For the same three-month period, the average apartment  vacancy rate nationwide was 4.1 percent, according to Reis. The U.S. average rent during the same period was $1,083, an increase of 0.8 percent.

 Deal will phase out city’s contribution over 10 years

 

NEW HAVEN — Ninety-nine years to the day after it first opened its doors to the public, the Shubert Theater was sold by the city to its private operator for $1.

On December 11, in the lobby of the “Birthplace of the Nation’s Greatest Hits,” outgoing New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. officially signed ownership of the College Street theater over to the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), the non-profit organization that has operated the Shubert since 2001.

Since then CAPA has operated the Shubert on a year-to-year lease, while the city of New Haven maintained financial responsibility for the building’s capital repairs and improvements. For managing and operating the theater the city paid CAPA a $250,000 annual management fee.

However, the last major renovation of the nearly-century-old Shubert took place in the early 1980s, and since then many of the building’s vital systems have become in need of repair, replacement and/or updating. This include the HVAC system, exterior masonry and the exterior fire escape.

The agreement relieves the city of financial responsibility to maintain the building — over time. Over ten the city’s annual contribution to the theater will decline until it terminates in 2024. This arrangement is expected to save the city approximately $5.5 million over this span.

To pick up the slack, the $11 million project is fueled by $4 million from the state, $2.5 million from city coffers and the launch of a $4 million Shubert Centennial Plan by establishing an endowment for continued financial sustainability of the theater.

The Centennial Plan envisions updates and renovations including backstage, back of house, orchestra shell and an additional performance space. City and CAPA officials such improvement could make possible an additional 95 to 180 event days, attracting 35,000 to 50,000 patrons downtown and generating en economic impact in excess of $6 million.

According to a study by Quinnipiac University, the Shubert presently generates close to $5 million in annual ticket revenues and is responsible for some $20 million in economic impact for the city.

“Places like [the Shubert] are important for maintaining a sense of who we are,” DeStefano said. “It’s so much better that this be owned by the community than by city government.”

 Connecticut's inventory of homes in foreclosure ranked fifth in the country in October for the third month in a row, according to a new report by CoreLogic.

During the month, 3.7 percent of mortgaged homes in the state were in foreclosure, roughly even with September but down from 4.4 percent in October 2012.

Connecticut had the nation’s fourth highest inventory in June, following Maine, but tied with that state in July. In August, Connecticut moved down to fifth place.

In addition to Maine, states with higher foreclosure inventories in October included New York, New Jersey and Florida.

 

Construction could begin next summer on $400M development

 

 

NEW HAVEN — A plan to redevelop the former Veterans Memorial Coliseum site took  a major leap forward December 2, when the Board of Alderman unanimously approved it, along with a land transfer agreement with Montreal developer Live Work Learn Play (LWLP).

 

“We’re very pleased and we’re very excited,” said LWLP vice president Richard Martz. “It’s been over three years since we started working on this project, and we’ve invested a lot of time and energy to come up with a plan that everybody supports.”

 

LWLP estimates the total project cost will be $395 million, including $363 million in private funding.

 

According to a city economic impact analysis, if fully redeveloped by 2020 the 4.5-acre site will have 719 residential units, 76,900 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of Class A office space, a 160-room hotel, 785 parking spaces and 52,670 square feet of public space. The entire project also is expected to create 4,676 construction jobs, 2,800 full-time jobs and generate annual sales tax revenues of  $2,340,000.

 

Martz says LWLP now will focus on finalizing plans with Newman Architects for the first part of the project: a public square surrounded by several buildings with first floor retail and upper-floor rental units. Construction could commence as soon as next summer.

 

But advancing from site plan to reality depends on government-funded infrastructure improvements, Martz says. The most important upgrade, he stresses, is the creation of an intersection at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Orange Street, where the hotel will be sited. 

 

The new intersection, along with landscaping and other infrastructure improvements, will cost around $33 million, according to city New Haven economic development administrator Kelly Murphy. The city has promised as much as $12 million — up to $5 million for Phase 1 and up to $7 million for Phase 2.

 

Murphy and other city officials and legislators are vigorously lobbying state officials for the rest. “All we can do is make the strongest case for economic return on this investment,” she says.

 

“We tried for a TIGER grant but didn’t get it,” adds Murphy, referring to a fifth round of U. S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant fund the city applied for in June, requesting $12.5 million to redesign the intersection and extend the Water Street bike route to the Coliseum site, among other improvements.

 

In late November, the city sent preliminary designs of  the new intersection to the state’s Department of Transportation.

 

“The next step will be to advance the designs and go out for public input,” according to Chris Canna, city project manager for the Coliseum project. 

 

“Our goal is to begin moving dirt next summer (2014) and target finishing the first phase — the town square and retail — by summer 2016,” Martz says. “Our commitments are very much tied to the infrastructure improvements. Ideally it’s most cost-efficient to do everything at once, but we understand that there may not be enough funding to do it that way. We can do it in phases as long as there’s a commitment to the first half of the infrastructure improvements.”

 

Martz says he is “cautiously optimistic” about obtaining public funding.

 

“I think the state has been very receptive to the project,” he says. “We want to make sure it is shovel-ready next summer so that we’re ready to go whenever we get the green light.”

 

 SHELTON — William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance has purchased 2 Research Drive for $2 million and plans to convert the 55,000-square-foot light industrial building on five acres into a Class A office building for its headquarters.

 

 

Two hundred employees will relocate to the new headquarters from a 20,000-square-foot building at 7 Trap Falls Road in Shelton. Raveis employs approximately 3,200 agents in seven states.

 

The search for a larger space began more than a year ago, according to William Raveis, chairman and CEO of the company.

 

“We looked everywhere in Connecticut,” Raveis said.  “Hartford County, Fairfield County, New Haven County.” After visiting a couple of dozen sites, Raveis discovered the right one “right in our backyard” when he spotted a “For Sale” sign at 2 Research Drive.

 

Raveis contacted the broker, Chris O'Hara of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT, who represented the seller, Shelton Associates. The vacant building had previously been occupied by Dresser Industries and A.O. Sherman.

 

Raveis described the new headquarters as a “very modern-looking high-tech building with a pyramid glass entrance and interior garden.

 

“It’s something like you would see in Silicon Valley and unlike anything you see in Shelton,” he added. “That’s what I wanted.”

 

The architect is Seung Hyeon Park, principal of Archicord, LLC in Bridgeport.

Raveis said R.D. Scinto Inc. will renovate the building, which involves “knocking down 10,000 square feet” and reducing the footprint to 43,000 square feet. The demolition is expected to begin in late January or early February. Construction should commence in March and take approximately 18 months to complete.

 

SALES

 

$41M for W-bury Shopping Center

WATERBURY — Cole Real Estate Investments Inc. has purchased the Naugatuck Valley Shopping Center, 950 Wolcott Street for $41 million. Jim Koury and Coleman Benedict of Boston-based HFF marketed the shopping center for the seller, DDRTC Naugatuck Valley SC, LLC, and identified the buyer. Stop & Shop and Wal-Mart anchor the 382,864-square-foot retail facility, situated on 50.51 acres. 

 

Advance Auto Parts Building Sold

NEW HAVEN — Hasu Patel has acquired the former Advance Auto Parts building at 222-234 Whalley Avenue for $650,000. The seller was 226 Whalley Avenue Associates, LLC of Woodbridge. The Proto Group was sole broker in the transaction.

 

Investor Buy Orange Property

ORANGE — RTJ Properties LLC has purchased a 9,120-square-foot building at 307 Racebrook Road for  $625,000. Eileen Russell of Pearce Commercial Real Estate represented the buyer. Carl Russell of Pearce Commercial Real Estate represented the seller, RCF, LLC.

ASD Fitness Center has leased around 5,000 square feet in the building, joining tenants Merle’s Record Rack and Ferguson’s Center Ice Sports.

 

Brass City Bldg. Sold

WATERBURY —  Icarus II, LLC has purchased a 28,314-square-foot building at 969 West Main Street for $855,000. Michael Guidicelli of Regions Commercial, LLC represented the buyer. Gerry Matthews of Matthews Commercial Properties represented the seller, Russell Associates.

 

 

LEASES

 

Psyched Up in Branford

BRANFORD — Psychiatrist J. Craig Allen and psychologist Mark Bono have leased 700 square feet at 765 East Main Street. Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors was sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is Captiva, LLC. 

 

Getting a Foot in the Door

BRANFORD — Connecticut Foot & Ankle Associates has leased 2,000 square feet in Lakeview Center, 249 West Main Street. Richard Gold and Phil Marshall of OR& L Commercial represented the landlord, Lakeview Center Associates, LLC. The tenant did not use the services of a broker.

 

Law Firm Leases in Branford

BRANFORD — The law firm of Licari, Walsh & Sklaver, LLC has leased approximately 2,400 square feet at 322 East Main Street, a 50,000-square-foot Class A office building. Ted Schaffer and Joel Nesson represented the tenant.  Steven Inglese of the New Haven Group represented the landlord, 322 East Main Street, LLC.

 

Auto Dealer Inks 5-Year Lease

MERIDEN — Go Auto Centers of Meriden has leased a 4,350-square-foot building on 2.2 acres at 171 South Broad Street.  The Proto Group, LLC was sole broker in the transaction for the former automobile dealership. The five-year lease is valued at $376,000. The landlord is 171 South Broad Street Meriden, LLC.

 

No More Sitting on Fence

MILFORD — Fence Me In, LLC has leased 1,500 square feet at 33 Eastern Steel Road. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors was the sole broker. The landlord is Connors Properties, LLC.

 

CrossFit Milford Expands

MILFORD — CrossFit Milford has signed a lease renewal and expansion totaling 10,900 square feet at 49 Research Drive, bringing the 23,000-square-foot building to 100-percent occupancy, according to Jon Angel of Angel Commercial, who was the sole broker in the transaction. The landlord  is D’Amato Investments.

 

Child Center Pens New Lease

NORTHFORD — Twin Lake Children's Center of Northford has leased 3,500 square feet at 5 Ardsley Avenue. Lisa Whitney of Calcagni Commercial represented both the tenant and the landlord, Ardsley Ave., LLC.

 

Something’s Cooking in No. Haven

NORTH HAVEN — Small Kitchen-Big Taste has leased 862 square feet at 420 Sackett Point Road. Dave Melillo of Pearce Commercial was the sole broker. The property is part of an estate.

 

Skeletons in This Closet?

ORANGE — Jennifer Al Ghuraibawi, a spine and neuro-musculoskeletal disorders physician, has leased 1,100 square feet at 472 Boston Post Road. Carl Russell and Richard Lombardo of Pearce Commercial represented both the doctor and the landlord, Kelli Lepensky.

 

Let’s Go (Long) Beach

STRATFORD — Medical Imaging Systems is relocating its headquarters from Shelton to 4,000 square feet at 300 Long Beach Boulevard. Jon Angel of Angel Commercial  represented the radiology imaging equipment distributor and the landlord, Development Limited Partnership #300.

 

Interacter to Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — Interacter Inc. has leased 10,009 square feet at 10 Beaumont Road. Phil Marshall of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, Beaumont Road Association.  The tenant did not use the services of a broker. 

 

Pizza Chain Invades CT

WOODBRIDGE — Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria has signed its first lease in Connecticut at D’Andrea’s Plaza, 1646 Litchfield Turnpike. The landlord is Litchfield Realty Trust. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz was the sole broker in negotiating the ten-year lease plus options,  and is representing Grimaldi’s, which plans to sign leases for six to 12 locations in Connecticut in the next 12 months. Now in more than half a dozen states, the pizza chain originated in a Brooklyn pizzeria in 1905.

 

 Public input sought for $360 million mixed-use development

 

 

 

NEW HAVEN — The Economic Development Corp. of New Haven seeks public input for an ambitious new plan to redevelop the former site of Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

 

 

Through a two year planning process, the city of New Haven and Canadian commercial real-estate developer LiveWorkLearnPlay (LWLP) have developed a shared vision for a “human-scale,” mixed-use, mixed-income, community-gathering place centered on an activated public square and laneway.

 

 

When built the $360 million project would include 719 residential rental units (20 percent of which would be designated as affordable housing), 76,900 square feet of retail, 160 hotel rooms, 200,000 square feet of Class A office space, 52,620 square feet of public space and 785 parking spaces.

 

 

The development agreement calls for attracting more than 35 new small to mid-sized permanent businesses and up to 20 seasonal incubator businesses, along with a mix of housing options including affordable, workforce and market-rate housing for individuals and families. In addition, the project will generate approximately 4,700 construction jobs during the seven to ten years of project build-out beginning in 2014, and between 2,800 permanent jobs during full operation.

 

The plan represents the next phase of New Haven’s Downtown Crossing project, which aims to reconnect downtown, Union Station, the medical district and the Hill neighborhood and will rejoin South Orange Street across the current Route 34 on an at-grade street for pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles.

 

Two sessions are planned to solicit input from the public. A November 13 Finance/Community Development Committee meeting beginning at 7 p.m. will focus on the proposed development agreement.

 

 

A second session beginning at 6:30 p.m. the next evening (November 14) will be hosted by the city’s Legislation Committee will seek public input on the proposed zoning change at the site (from BD to BD-3).

 

 

Both meetings will take place in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall, 165 Church Street.

 

 

Interested parties unable to attend are invited to submit testimony about the proposed redevelopment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 BRANFORD — RE/MAX Alliance has merged with RE/MAX Property Consultants in Groton, creating a combined force of 29 full-time agents. RE/MAX Alliance broker/owner Greg Scott will be in charge of both offices. Lian Obrey, the former broker/owner of RE/MAX Property Consultants, will be focusing on his “listing and selling business.”

 MILFORD — DeForest (Frosty) Smith has been named Pearce Commercial Real Estate’s top producing agent for its Milford office for the third quarter of 2013, and Rich Guralnick has been named the top producing agent for Pearce’s North Haven office.

A former president of the Connecticut chapter of CCIM, Guralnick recently completed a five-year stint as a co-chair for the Connecticut/Westchester chapter of CoreNet Global, a leading national association for corporate real estate executives.

According to Pearce, Smith, a Yale graduate with more than 45 years of commercial real estate experience, is the only Realtor in America to simultaneously hold the designations of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), Graduate Realtors Institute (GRI), and Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB).

“Frosty is a regarded nationwide as a leader in the field of real estate, whom we are lucky to call a Pearce Pro,” said Pearce president Barbara Pearce in a statement.

 WALLINGFORD — Prudential Connecticut Realty has a new name and identity. Acquired in April 2012 by an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway, the company has rebranded, with a new logo, to become Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. President/CEO Candace Adams will remain in charge, overseeing the Wallingford-based affiliate.

“We’re excited to be among the first Prudential affiliates in the nation to make the transition,” Adams said in a statement. “Berkshire Hathaway is a name that commands respect, and it’s synonymous with trust, integrity and quality — three traits that the Prudential organization has long embraced as part of its core values.”

 SALES

 

Exchange Bldg. Fetches $2.7M

 NEW HAVEN — Developer Paul Denz has purchased a four-story 39,993-square-foot building at 123-127 Church Street for  $2.7 million. CBRE represented the seller, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which recently vacated 30,000 square feet of Class A space in the historic building, constructed in 1832 and known as the “Exchange Building.” The only current tenant, Sovereign Bank, leases 10,000 square feet on the first floor. Denz has hired CBRE as the leasing agent. 

 

 Cheshire Commercial Bldg. Sold

 CHESHIRE — Common Goal Assoc., LLC has purchased a  7,748-square-foot commercial building at 1573 Highland Avenue for $350,250. Toby Brimberg of OR&L Commercial, represented the buyer. Carol Karney and Bob Gaucher of OR&L Commercial represented the seller, Elaine Richard.

 

Guralnick Does It Again

 BRANFORD — A 20,000-square-foot office building at 388 Main Street has sold for $825,000. Rich Guralnick of Pearce Commercial represented the seller, Davie Enterprises LLC of Connecticut, and the buyer, 388 East Main, LLC.

 

 Whitney Ave. Deals

 HAMDEN — An eight-unit multi-family building at 118 Whitney Avenue has changed hands. John Cuozzo of Press/Cuozzo represented the seller, D&L Manchester, LLC. Gary Damato of Press/Cuozzo represented the buyer, 1181 Whitney, LLC. The sale price was $885,000.

 HAMDEN — SG & SG LLC has purchased a 13,340 square foot medical office building at 2447 Whitney Avenue. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented both the buyer and seller, Whitney Medical Group LLC. The sale price was $990,000.

 

Former Vet Hospital Sold

 NEW HAVEN — Citizen's Television (CTV) Inc. has purchased 843 State Street for $815,000. VTN Associates, LLC, a consortium of veterinarians, sold the 7,400-square-foot building, occupied by New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. David Hansen of CBRE represented the buyer. The seller was unrepresented. The veterinary hospital is moving to a new facility in North Haven.

 

Alden Ave. Apts. Acquired

 NEW HAVEN — Fountainville, LLC has purchased a nine-unit apartment building at of 200-204 Alden Avenue for $800,000. Richard Gold and Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, Nipote, LLC. Frank D'Ostilio of Wareck D'Ostilio Real Living represented the buyer. The building has seven one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments.

 

One Fewer Farm in No. Haven

 NORTH HAVEN — A developer has purchased a 4.34-acre farm at 520 Washington Avenue and plans to construct 125 residential units and 3,000 square feet of commercial space on the property. Albert Scafati of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented the D'Addio family, owners of the 60-year-old farm. Steve Inglese of the New Haven Group, arranged the sale on behalf of the buyer, 91 Leffingwell Road LLC. The sale price was $2.65 million.

 

Costume Bazaar Bldg. Sold

 NORTH HAVEN — Leeway Inc. has purchased 1593 State Street for $515,000. Carl Russell of Pearce Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker. The former owners of the Costume Bazaar sold the 13,750 square foot building.

 

Investor Buys Industrial Bldg.

 WALLINGFORD — Wiehl Holdings, LLC has purchased a 30,000-square-foot industrial facility at 228 North Plains Industrial Road for $1.65 million. Bill Wiehl of Colonial Realty represented the buyer. Chris Nolan of Pearce Commercial, represented the seller, DBS Properties.

 

LEASES

 

Personal Trainer Pens Lease

 CHESHIRE — Horizon Personal Training has signed a five-year lease for 3,525 square feet at 1701 Highland Avenue. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was the sole broker. The landlord is Fazzone Investments & Properties, LLC.

 

Consultant Chooses Cheshire

 CHESHIRE — Andrews Consulting Group has leased 11,500 square feet at 1154 Highland Avenue. David Barnes of CBRE represented the tenant. Richard Guralnick of Pearce Commercial Real Estate represented the owners, Marshall Enterprises LLC.

 

Dodge Ave. Lease

 EAST HAVEN — TXX Services, Inc. has leased 3,289 square feet at 250 Dodge Avenue, a large, light industrial building near Tweed-New Haven Airport. Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented both the tenant and the landlord, Dreadnaught Properties CT, LLC.

 

 Broker to Leeder Hill

 HAMDEN — Fairfield Investment Corp. has leased 2,560 square feet at 105 Leeder Hill Drive. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was sole broker in the deal. The landlord is Stengel & Tomasoco Realty LLC.   

 

 Rt. 10 Talbots Going Nowhere

 HAMDEN — Talbots has renewed its long-term lease for more than 9,000 square feet at 3490 Whitney Avenue. No brokers were involved. The clothing store dealt directly with the landlord, Westwoods Corner Partners, LLC.  Talbots has occupied the space since 1989.

 

 YNHH Leases in Madison

 MADISON — Yale-New Haven Hospital has signed a long-term lease for 4,124 square feet at 1291 Boston Post Road for an expanded urological center. Rich Guralnick of Pearce Commercial represented landlord, 1291 Boston Post Road, LLC. Cushman & Wakefield represented YNNH.  

 

 The Doctor Is In

 MERIDEN — A physician has subleased a 1,347-square-foot office suite at 321 Research Parkway from Green Beacon Solutions, LLC. Jennifer Gosselin of CBRE represented the doctor, Paul Horton. Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented Green Beacon Solutions. The sublease term is four years.

 

 Car Talk Yields Deal

 MIDDLETOWN — Umut Yucel has leased 9,904 square feet at the former Schaller Subaru at 1138 Newfield Street for a used-car dealership. Jonathan Cohn of Goman & York represented the tenant. Carol Karney and Steve Foote of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, European Motorcars. 

 

Indust. Condo Leased

 MILFORD — KeeClean Management Inc. has leased an 800-square-foot industrial condo at 185 Research Drive. Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group represented the tenant. Bill Clark The Geenty Group also represented the landlord, D'Amato Investments LLC.

 

Wood Broker Leases

 MILFORD — CNC Cutting & Design, LLC, has leased an 800-square-foot industrial condo at 282 Woodmont Road for a custom wood products business. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group was the sole broker. The landlord is D’Amato Investments, LLC.

 

 Construction Firm Leases

 NEW HAVEN — Bond Construction has inked a five-year deal for 5,800 square feet at 370 James Street. David Hansen of CBRE was the sole broker. The landlord is the Acorn Group.

 

Taken for Granite

 NEW HAVEN — D’Elia Gillooly DePalma, LLC has leased 4,680 square feet the in the Granite Square building at 700 State Street. David Hansen of CBRE was the sole broker. The landlord is the Acorn Group.

 

 Sullivan Tire to No. Haven

 NORTH HAVEN — Sullivan Tire of Connecticut Inc. has leased 10,500 square feet at 130 Universal Drive. Kyle Roberts of CBRE represented the tenant. Kevin Geenty and Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group represented the landlord, Universal Drive LLC.

 

 Eatery to Brass City

 WATERBURY — Jimmy’s II Family Restaurant has leased 3,100 square feet at 579 Watertown Avenue. John Famiglietti of Drubner Commercial Real Estate Services represented the tenant. Ralph Calabrese and Tony Valenti of the R. Calabrese Agency represented the landlord , Watertown Associates. John Famiglietti of Drubner Commercial Real Estate Services represented the tenant.

 

Bloody Deal

 NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital has signed a 5.5-year lease for a blood-draw center at Whalley Commons, 1467 Whalley Avenue. The Proto Group represented the landlord, ACL/Smartyale.

 

Fitness Club Relocates

 WATERBURY — Spark Fitness has inked a four-year lease for 3,000 square feet at Steelebrook Plaza, 1630 Watertown Avenue. Brian Godin of Matthews Commercial Properties represented the tenant. The Proto Group represented the landlord, Steele Brook Development LLC.

 

 August Conn. home sales highest in six years

 

BOSTON — Sales of single-family homes in Connecticut rose almost ten percent in August, marking the highest sales volume for the month since 2007, according to the latest report by the Warren Group.

A total of 2,893 single-family homes sold in August, up from 2,639 in August 2012. This represented the best August since 2007, when 3,726 deals were closed. It is also the second-highest number of sales for a month in 2o13 to date, bettered only by July, when there were 3,126 sales. Year-to-date sales have increased 4 percent to 17,110, compared to 16,458 during the same period of 2012.

"We're already seeing how the seasonality affects the market, with sales dropping in August compared to July, and this will probably continue in the fall and winter months," said Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. "While the market has proved to be strong so far this year, there is much concern over how the government shutdown will impact the overall economy."

The median price of single-family homes statewide rose for the 11th consecutive month. The median price climbed to $285,000 in August, up almost 12 percent from $255,000 during the same month of 2012. The median sale price for homes sold January through August also increased 9.5 percent to $265,000, up from $242,000 during the first eight months of 2012.

Also in August, Connecticut condominium sales rose almost three percent. Sales statewide increased to 683 in August, up from 664 in August 2012. This is the highest number of condo sales recorded for the month since 2009. Year-to-date condo sales are also up about seven percent, increasing to 4,438 from 4,141 during the previous year.

The median sale price of Connecticut condos increased almost 16 percent in August to $190,000, up from last year's $164,250. The year-to-date median price of condos in Connecticut rose more than seven percent to $172,500, up from $161,000 a year ago.

 $60M redevelopment to include 158 apartments

 

NEW HAVEN — A nearly $60 million apartment complex will inject new life into the long dormant Winchester Repeating Arms Co. complex.

Winchester Lofts will be a nearly 200,000 square-foot mixed-use building with 158 market-rate and affordable housing units, plus office space. The redevelopment of the old factory at the corner of Winchester Avenue and Munson Street is the second of a two-phase project for further development of the former industrial campus, now home to Yale’s Science Park campus.

The first phase of this development project involved the renovation of 140,000 square feet of adjacent factory space that is now home to the offices of technology finance company Higher One, which relocated there in 2012.

“The Lofts project will clean up more of this underutilized site and bring new quality market-rate and affordable housing while also preserving these beautiful buildings that have long been a part of New Haven’s history and a fabric of the Newhallville neighborhood,” explains city Economic Development Administrator Kelly Murphy.

Twenty percent of the housing at Winchester Lofts, or 32 units, will be designated affordable housing, with half of those for people earning 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), and the other half for those earning 100 percent of the AMI. Otherwise, market rents are likely to be about $1,800 per month.

Winchester Lofts is being developed by Cleveland, O.-based firm Forest City, which is pitching $10.6 million of its money to the project; additional funding sources for the $59.26 million project is coming from loans, state and federal tax credits, and a $4 million Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) grant from the state’s Department of Housing.

Murphy adds that New Haven’s residential vacancy rates are low, and more housing will allow continued reinvigoration. The developments at Science Park and investments in new sidewalks, street paving and the Farmington Canal Line, she says, has had a ripple effect for the surrounding neighborhood.

“We are seeing additional investments by individual homeowners in buying and fixing up homes, and small commercial investors in buying smaller apartment buildings and investing in them,” Murphy says. “This is exactly what you want to happen.”

Aside from the retail space in the Science Park parking garage, no further developments are in the works, as Murphy points out the city would rather not risk overbuilding leading to vacant spaces.

Forest City has developed, owns and manages properties in 26 states and was attracted to the Winchester project after conducting other adaptive reuse projects of former industrial sites in the Northeast, according to company officials.

The Winchester Lofts are expected to be complete in summer 2014.

 

 When the state’s new health insurance exchange opens on October 1, two enrollment center storefronts should be open for business.

 Already leased is a 2,000-square-foot space at 200 Main Street in New Britain. The other likely will be at 55 Church Street in New Haven, where a contract was pending as of press time.

 “We have an LOI letter of intent),” explains Eric Amodio, a commercial broker with Farmington-based Amodio & Co. who has been scouting locations in both cities for the exchange, Access Health, since the end of this May.

 “They came to us with some parameters,” Amodio explains. “They’re trying to get a highly trafficked area in as prime a spot as they can afford. First they were looking at shopping centers. But any of the good ones don’t have any space, which led us to retail stores, around 2,000 to 2,500 square feet.

 “Because of the extent of the sign up period, they were looking at one-term leases, and a lot of landlords didn’t want to deal with that,” Amodio added. “It just kind of boiled down to which spots would take them.”

 In New Britain, there were five options, “but with delays several were snapped up,” Amodio says. The space he was able to lease, at 200 Main Street, previously was an H&R Block location.

 “New Haven was even harder,” Amodio adds. “There certainly was space available but certainly not in the condition the client wanted.”

 Amodio came up with four options. Most were near the Green on Chapel Street. But the 2,800 square feet at 55 Church Street seemed best suited, because of its location, good condition and layout.

 Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan has credited the Apple Store as the inspiration for the street-level state health-insurance enrollment center storefronts.

 “Right when you walk in there’s a seating area where you can view a four- to five- minute video of whole [enrollment] process,” Amodio says. “Then there will be computer terminals where you can go and sign up. In the back there will be kind of like a help desk. They’re also looking to have a few private office rooms where insurance brokers can come in. At 55 Church Street there already are three offices built out in the space. “

 Amodio said most of the storefronts “are going to be used as is, with minor improvements.”

 They will be recarpeted and repainted, according to Tony Crowe, Access Health’s retail projects manager. “We have been negotiating a deal with Ikea to furnish them,” he adds. The storefronts also are being situated in “well-lit, safe neighborhoods with easy access to public transportation,” according to Crowe. “We want some foot traffic and some parking.”

 The enrollment centers will be open daily: noon to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. “The plan is to get as many people as we can to sign up,” Crowe says.

 The New Britain and New Haven storefronts are the pilots for other storefronts, which Access Health CEO Kevin Counihan has said could open in other cities, including Hartford, Bridgeport, Danbury and Stamford.

 Said Crowe, “Right now we’re concentrating on these two.”

 

 Sales

 

 Spice of Life

 MIDDLEBURY — JRS Holdings, LLC has purchased six acres on North Benson Road to construct a 17,000-square-foot plant for packaging herb and spice blends. The sale price was $270,000. The seller was Stacey Drubner. David Theroux, managing partner of Drubner Commercial, was the sole broker. The buyer owns the Pilot Seasoning Co. in Waterbury.

 

 Surgery Clinic Planned

 ORANGE — South Orange Center Road Holding Co., LLC has purchased a 1.56-acre parcel, Lot 1A, South Orange Center Road for 370,000. Tom Cavaliere of Weichert Realtors represented the seller, Oakwood Associates. Rich Guralnick and Carl Russell of Pearce Commercial represented the buyer who, according to Russell, plans to build a two-story, 5,000-square-foot plastic surgery clinic on the lot.

 

 Retail Center Sold

 WATERBURY — Jaswant Mand and Sangita Patel have bought a 2,500-square-foot retail center at 15-21 Woodtick Road for $275,000. The seller was Sharon Sousa. David Theroux of Drubner Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker.

 

M0bury Warehouse Sale

 MIDDLEBURY — Southford Road Associates has purchased a 175,000 square foot retail/commercial warehouse on four acres at 1100 Southford Road for $1,350,000. The seller was Sun Design LTD. David Theroux of Drubner Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker.

 

Bassett Building Sold

 SHELTON — An affiliate of Cambridge Hanover Inc. has purchased an 81,500-square-foot office, production and warehouse facility on 10 acres at 100 Trap Falls Road Extension for $3.32 million. Sean Cahill of CBRE’s Fairfield/Westchester office represented the buyer. Bruce Wettenstein of Vidal/Wettenstein, represented the seller, W.E. Basset Co.

 

A Little for a Lot

 STRATFORD — VDM Companies, LLC has purchased a half-acre lot at 1350 Barnum Avenue for $1.05 million. The sale included a ground lease for an HSBC bank that never was built. Bob Horvath and Todd Tremblay, vice presidents of investments at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, represented both the buyer and seller, 1370 Barnum, LLC. Horvath said the buyer would continue to collect rent for the three years remaining on the ten-year lease ($210,000 annually) before developing the property.

 

Leases

 

Social Worker to Rt. 1

 BRANFORD — Tracy Mitchell has leased 400 square feet at 2415 Boston Post Road. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group,  Realtors represented the landlord, Mariner Properties, LLC. Linda Heinig of Century 21 All Points Realty represented Mitchell, a clinical social worker.

 

Woodmont Road Lease

 MILFORD —  Jared James of Connecticut Posts, LLC has leased 800 square feet at 282 Woodmont Road. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors was the sole broker. The landlord is D’Amato Investments, LLC. 

 

Buckley Program at Home

 NEW HAVEN — The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale has leased 7,500 square feet at the landmark William F. Taft Mansion at 111 Whitney Avenue. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo was sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is One Eleven Whitney, LLC. Named for the late National Review founder and editor (and the author of God and Man at Yale), the program aims to promote intellectual diversity at Yale with conferences, a speaker series, summer internships and other activities.

 

 Whitney Ave. Lease

 HAMDEN — Alina Alfiris has signed a five-year lease for 1,170 square feet at 2440 Whitney Avenue. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented the tenant and the landlord, WTE 2428 Whitney LLC. 

 

At the Center of It All

 HAMDEN — Turtle & Hughes Integrated Supply has leased 5,500 square feet on the fifth floor of Hamden Center II, 2321 Whitney Avenue. Steven Press of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented the tenant and the landlord, Hamden Realty Associates.

 

 Core Competency

 NEW HAVEN — Sarah Aldrich Pilates has signed a three-year lease for 5,000 square feet at 50 Elm Street. Frank D'Ostilio and Bill Ludwig of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio represented the tenant and the landlord, Ahern Family Partnership.

 

 New Ninth Square Gallery

 NEW HAVEN — Giampietro Gallery has leased a 1,000-square-foot first-floor storefront at 91 Orange Street. Frank D'Ostilio of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio was sole broker in the deal. The landlord is Ninth Square Limited.

 

 The Bird Is the Word

 NEW HAVEN — Inspired Turkey has leased 1,300 square feet at 86 Crown Street. Frank D'Ostilio of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio represented the tenant and the landlord Ninth Square Limited.

 

 Driving a Hard Bargain

 WALLINGFORD — All-Star Driver, LLC has leased 1,500 square feet at 950 Yale Avenue. Garett Palmer of Goodellow Ashmore represented the tenant. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo represented 950 Yale Avenue, LLC, the owner of the 66,000-square-foot retail and office center.

 

 Accounting Firm Pens Deal

 NEW HAVEN — Gebric & Gebric has signed a five-year lease for 1,200 square feet at 321 Whitney Avenue. Sal Albraccio of Weichert Realtors represented the accounting firm. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo represented the owner, 321 Whitney LLC. 

 

In the Pink(berry)

 NEW HAVEN — Think Pink New Haven, LLC has signed a ten-year lease for 2,300 square feet at 1064 Chapel Street, where Pinkberry plans to open a “handcrafted yogurt bar.” Tommy Febbraio of Coldwell Banker Commercial represented the tenant. John Wareck of Real Living Wareck D’Ostilio represented the landlord, Chapel Investment, LLC. Savitt Jewelers previously occupied the space.

 

 Shelton Lab Space

 SHELTON — TestAmerica has inked a five-year lease for 3,250 square feet of office and lab space at 12 Progress Drive. Stephanie Coleman of Cresa Fairfield County and Brett Merz of Cresa Orange County (Calif.) represented the tenant. Bruce Wettenstein of Vidal Wettenstein represented the owner, the Francini Organization.

 

160 rental units planned for College Street

 

 

NEW HAVEN — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

A long-delayed development plan for a seven-story mixed-use building at the corner of College and George streets has been given the go ahead by the City Plan Commission after several revisions dating back to 2006.

Robert Landino, CEO of Middletown developer Centerplan Companies, is behind the proposed $50 million building at 188 and 196 College Street and 285 George Street, which will feature first-floor retail space, 160 residential rental units and 160 parking spaces in an underground garage. Centerplan’s original 2006 proposal for a 19-story luxury condo high-rise was scrapped after the housing market crashed, and further financing challenges put the kibosh on a revised plan for a $100 million, 225-room boutique hotel with street-level retail in 2008.

The new building will occupy the entire block from George Street to Crown Street, the same footprint as the original 2006 plan. The project was given zoning variances including those allowing for smaller side and rear yards, and less open space than is usually required to allow the project to fit on the site.

For the underground garage is planned 11 car lifts that will fit two cars in one space by lifting one on top of the other, accounting for 22 cars.

The existing storefronts at the corner of Crown and College streets will be demolished to make way for the new building. Previously existing businesses were evicted after the initial project was approved. Longtime tenant Cooper’s Dress Shop left for Orange in 2008 after 46 years at the location (and nearly 60 years total in New Haven). College Wine, a liquor store occupying the corner storefront, also moved out.

The People’s Art Collective, a non-profit artists group that organizes events and workshops, has been occupying the ground-floor space since last year. The former TK’s American Café, which sat at the opposite end of the block on George Street, was demolished.

Work on the new building could start as soon as this fall. Architect for the project is Orange Street firm Svigals + Partners.

 

 Home prices continue to rise, albeit slowly

 

Connecticut single-family home sales recorded modest increases in the second quarter and in the month of June, according to the latest report by the Boston-based Warren Group.

Second-quarter single-family home sales totaled 6,898, a near one-percent increase from 6,854 in the second quarter of 2012.

Single-family home sales in Connecticut also increased slightly in June, rising 0.4 percent, the second straight month of increases. A total of 2,602 single-family homes changed hands in June, up from 2,591 a year earlier. This marks the best month for sales since August 2012, when 2,639 sales were recorded.

"The housing market in Connecticut continues to show slow growth," said Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. "As long as mortgage rates and home prices don't spike too high, we'll see a very steady recovery year for the market in 2013."

Statewide, year-to-date home sales are down about 1 percent. From January to June, a total of 10,947 single-family homes have sold, compared to 11,070 during the same period a year ago.

Year-over-year home prices rose 5.6 percent in June. The median sale price of a single-family home statewide increased to $283,000 in June, up from $268,000 in June 2012. This is the highest median price for any month since August 2008.

The year-to-date median sale price is $255,000, up more than 8.5 percent from $234,900 during the same period last year. Quarterly prices are also up more than eight percent to $269,000, up from $249,000 during the second quarter of 2012.

Connecticut condominium sales increased in June, rising almost two percent from a year earlier. A total of 652 condos sold in June, up from 641 a year earlier. Year-to-date condo sales are up almost one percent to 2,911 from 2,885 a year earlier.

Condo sales for the second quarter also climbed from a year earlier. In the second quarter, 1,792 condos sold, up 2.5 percent from 1,748 during the same period a year ago.

The median sale price of condos also rose in June. The median selling price was $176,000, up more than 7.6 percent from $163,500 a year earlier. The second quarter median condo price increased more than 8 percent to $175,000 from $162,000 in the second quarter 2012. The year-to-date median price of condos in the Connecticut is $168,000, up 5 percent from $160,000 a year ago.

 

 CHESHIRE –– After a five-year delay, a 500,000-square-foot outlet shopping center appears likely to become a reality.

On July 22, the Cheshire Town Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved Massachusetts-based WS Development's Special Development Project master plan for the Outlets at Cheshire. The vote followed a green light from the Cheshire Inland, Wetlands & Watercourses Commission.

According to the plan, Phase I, the outlet center, will be built on Route 10 at the intersection of I-691, on the southeast side of the Ten Mile River. Later additions to the project could include a health and fitness club, hotel and townhouses on the other side of the river, which bisects the 114-acre property.

The project has been in the works since 2007, explains Louis Masiello, vice president of development for WS Development.

“We think the area is an underserved market without good quality retail of any significant size and scale,” Masiello explains. “We saw this hole in the market with really great demographics, and also saw this incredible access to the regional highway network.”

In the early stages, WS entered into purchase agreements with several landowners and, in 2008, received town approvals for a special development district.

“Then the economy really stalled, as did our ability to secure tenancies for the space,” Masiello says. “We maintained permits by extensions, maintained land agreements and continued to market to retailers. Then last year things changed, the momentum picked up and we identified this resurgence in demand.”

WS updated its plan, shifting from a traditional shopping center to a more pedestrian-oriented outdoor outlet center featuring high-end designer brands, and resubmitted them this year. Masiello says the company now is working on detailed design, which includes 30-foot spaces between the single story “clapboard New England style” shops.

He envisions between 50 and 60 brand-name retailers, including purveyors of fashion apparel, athletic ware, footware, giftware and kitchenware, occupying around 5,000 to 6,000 square feet each in the outlet center. “We have leases out being negotiated for about ten [stores] and are at the letter-of-intent stages for ten to 12,” he says, but declines to identify the retailers. The company also is seeking a specialty or organic grocer for a 40,000-square-foot store to anchor one end of the complex. He also says the center will have “quite a bit of restaurant activity.”

Masiello estimates the entire project, when fully built, will cost at least $100 million.

It also is expected to create 400 jobs during construction and around 1,100 full- and part-time permanent jobs afterwards. It will also generate $2.2 million annually in tax revenues to the town, Masiello says.

WS will be seeking final site plan approval from the town this fall, Masiello says, along with requisite state Department of Transportation and Department of Energy & Environmental Protection approvals.

If the company secures all outstanding local and state permits by the end of 2013, building the outlet center will commence in early 2014 with completion of Phase I –– and tenant occupancy –– in summer or autumn of 2015.

Further construction, in one or two more phases, could start “about a year after Phase I, depending on market conditions,” Masiello says. Those plans, for the part of the site across the river from the outlet center, include a 146-unit townhouse development and an “intermediate zone of low-intensity scale commercial development” with a health and fitness club, a four-story, 50,000-square-foot hotel and a “public gathering lawn for community events, less intense than concerts,” on the riverbank across from the shops.

“We have yet to secure users for intermediate commercial zone,” Masiello acknowledges. 

WS Development developed the Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton and manages several other shopping complexes in Connecticut, including Meetingbrook in Wallingford, Waterford Park North and Walmarts in Cromwell and Putnam.

 Marquez Joins Geenty

 

BRANFORD –– Juan Marquez has joined the Geenty Group, Realtors as a commercial and residential Realtor, following a decade in banking and real estate loss mitigation, including jobs at Wells Fargo and GMAC Mortgage. 

 

 

 

Pearce Adds Veteran Baird

 

MILFORD –– Kirk Baird of New Haven has become a sales agent in Pearce Real Estate’s Commercial Division. He brings more than 35 years of experience in financial and investment analysis to his new post, including jobs at IBM, First Bank and Merrill Lynch. A Yale graduate, Baird is a past director of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.

 

 SALES

 

UNH Acquires Hubbell Campus

ORANGE –– The University of New Haven has purchased the former Hubbell Inc. headquarters at 584 Derby-Milford Road for $3.03 million. The 70,000-square-foot, Class A building on 46 acres will become a new graduate campus. Christopher O'Hara of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT Inc. and Tom Pulie of USI represented Hubbell, and O’Hara represented the university.

 

 

Milford Place Sold

MILFORD –– Milford Place Corporate Center has a new owner. Total Mortgage Services, LLC recently purchased the 143,802-square-foot Class A office building at 185 Plains Road for $5.25 million for use as its headquarters. The deal includes 16 acres and more than 560 parking spaces. Dan Boynton of Boynton Commercial represented the buyer. Daven Hansen of CBRE represented the seller, a unit of Boston-based CommonWealth REIT. The center currently has six tenants, including FedEx.

 

 Silver City Auto Shop

MERIDEN –– Houman Shafei has purchased a 2,800-square-foot building at 111 South Colony Street for $100,000. Frank Hird and Tim McMahon of OR&L Commercial represented the seller, the Record Journal Real Estate Co. The buyer, which will use the space for a car repair and sales business, was unrepresented.

 

 M-Town Industrial Bldg. Sold

MIDDLETOWN –– Precision Devices Inc. has acquired a 27,365-square-foot industrial building with office and showroom space at 299 Industrial Park Road for $1,110,000. Jay Morris, Richard Gold and Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the buyer, while Morris represented the seller, DocuSource.

 

 N.H. Apts. Fetch $5.4M

NEW HAVEN –– A New York investor has purchased a 98-unit apartment portfolio for $5.4 million ($55,102 per unit). The sale included 43 garden-style units at 320 Quinnipiac Avenue, 20 garden-style units at 171-185 Quinnipiac Avenue, five units at 17-19 Judith Terrace, eight garden-style units at 210 Burwell Street and 22 townhouse-style units at 64 Chamberlain Street. Sandy Strickland of Sky Realty Group at Broder Commercial was the sole broker.

 

 Grand Ave. Apts. Sold

NEW HAVEN –– G&B Realty LLC has purchased a 13-unit apartment complex with two two-bedroom units and 11 one-bedroom units at 83 East Grand Avenue for $595,000. Frank D'Ostilio of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio was the listing agent. Taylor Realty was the seller. Noah Meyer of Levey Miller Maretz represented the buyer.

 

 No. Haven Bldg. Sold

NORTH HAVEN — Luigi Ferraro has purchased a 9,400-square-foot building at 30 Montowese Avenue for $577,000. Phil Barber of Pearce Commercial Real Estate represented the buyer. Rich Gold and Tim McMahon of OR&L Commercial represented the seller, RSB Associates.

 

 $14M for No. Haven Apts.

NORTH HAVEN –– Briarwood Hills, LLC has acquired Briarwood Hills at 100 State Street, for $14.4 million. Rick Chozick, president of Chozick Realty's Hartford office, advised the seller, US Bancorp, and procured the buyer for the 176-residential unit complex.

 

 Sweet Deal in Seymour

SEYMOUR –– Hendel Investors has purchased the former Shell Gas and Sweets & Eats property on 0.75 acres at 2-4 North Main Street for $950,000. The Proto Group was the sole broker. The seller is North Main & Day, LLC. Hendel will construct a new gas station and convenience store on the property.

 

 NY Investor Buys Shelton Office Bldg.

SHELTON — Rugby Realty of New Rochelle, N.Y. has acquired the Reservoir Corporate Center, 4 Research Drive, for $8.5 million. David Noonan, Jennifer Schwartzman and Paul Gojkovich of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Capital Markets group and Pierre Bonan of Auction.com represented the buyer and seller of the 157,776-square-foot Class A office building on seven acres. Commercial mortgage special servicer LNR Partners, LLC acted for the seller, CSFB 2001-CP4 Research Drive, LLC, and brought in Newmark Grubb Knight Frank to market the site through the auction process. “We worked with LNR Partners through a foreclosure and bankruptcy to execute this sale,” Noonan said.

 

 Brass City Apts. Fetch $17M

WATERBURY –– Country Village Apartments, LLC has bought a 232-unit, HUD-subsidized property on more than 30 acres for $17 million.

The buyer plans to renovate the property at 283 Colonial Avenue using $15 million of Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) tax credits. The upgrades include new roofs, windows, flooring, kitchens, appliances and bathrooms as well as landscaping improvements. Steve Pappas of Chozick Realty advised the seller, Fairmount Heights Associates, LP. The buyer assumed several mortgages to buy the complex.

 

 Geenty Does It Again

WESTBROOK –– Solid State Heating Corp. (SSHC) has purchased a 12,359-square-foot light industrial building at 1244 Old Clinton Road for $475,000. Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented SSHC, which manufactures radiant modular ceiling heating units for residential and commercial applications. Kevin Geenty and Kristin Geenty, SIOR represented the seller, People’s United Bank. The Geenty Group has sold this property four times in the last 35 years.

 

 Staking Out Their Turf

WEST HAVEN –– Hilltop Turf, LLC has bought a 6,000-square-foot industrial and office building at 30 Spring Street for its headquarters. The sale price was $253,000. The seller was Spring Street Industrial Park, LLC. Phil Barber of Pearce Commercial Real Estate was sole broker in the transaction.

 

LEASES

 

 Tech Center Lures Two

BRANFORD –– Two new tenants have leased space at Northeast Technology Center, 35 NE Industrial Road. Wren Laboratories took 4,250 square feet of laboratory and office space; while Service National rented 5,500 square feet of office space.

Seth Hershman of Wareck D’Ostillio Real Living represented Wren Laboratories. Timothy McMahon of OR&L Commercial represented Service National, and also represented the landlord, G+L 35 NE Industrial, LLC, in both leases.

 

 Office Condo Leased

BRANFORD –– F. E. Hall & Co. Inc. has leased a 768-square-foot office unit at 11 Sycamore Way. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the landlord, Gray Eagle Corp. Cynthia Nargi of Prudential Connecticut Realty represented the tenant.

 

 Sound Decision in Guilford

GUILFORD –– Sound Benefit Choices/Colonial Life has signed a three-year lease for 1,500 square feet at 163 Cedar Street. The landlord is RCR Enterprises LLC. Joel Galvin of Pearce Commercial Real Estate was sole broker in the deal.

 

 New Aldi for Derby

DERBY –– Discount grocery retailer Aldi will anchor a new 5.3-acre shopping center on Pershing Drive, opposite ShopRite.  Aldi real estate director Bruno Lourenco negotiated a 20-year base term lease deal for 15,800 square feet, which has a ground lease value in excess of $3 million. The Proto Group was the sole broker. The landlord is Pershing Partners, LLC.

 

 Wall Street Occupied

MADISON –– Lifestyle Boutique Robertson Madison, LLC has signed a five-year lease at 69 Wall Street. Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, Davis Realty. The tenant was unrepresented.

 

 New Tenant Insured

MADISON –– Guardian Life Insurance Co. has leased 3,587 square feet at 1291 Boston Post Road. Richard Guralnick of Pearce Commercial was sole broker in the deal. The landlord is 1291 Boston Post Road, LLC.

 

 Ale’s Well That Ends Well

NORTH HAVEN –– Craft Beer Guild Distributing of Connecticut, LLC and L. Knife & Son Inc. has leased 12,637 square feet of warehouse and office space at 352 Sackett Point Road. Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the tenant. Matt O'Hare of CB Richard Ellis represented the landlord, Sackett Point IP Holdings, LLC.

 

 Machine Shop to No. Haven

NORTH HAVEN –– Composite Machining Experts, LLC has signed a five-year lease for 19,246 square feet at 222 Universal Drive. Barry Stratton and Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the tenant and the landlord, Branco Inc.

 

 Med. Equipment Supplier Pans Lease

WALLINGFORD –– Joerns, LLC has leased 3,000 square feet at 65 South Turnpike Road for its medical equipment storage, cleaning, distribution and rental business. The Geenty Group’s Kevin Geenty represented the tenant. Bill Clark, also of the Geenty Group, represented the landlord.

 

 Music to Landlord’s Ears

WOODBRIDGE –– Alexander Music Studios has leased 1,000 square feet at 131 Bradley Road for three years with two three-year options. Marty Ruff of Levey Miller Maretz was the sole broker. The landlord is Richard Wilson.

 When Hamden updated its zoning regulations several years ago, town officials brought in New Haven-based architect Robert Orr to change the conventional code to a new code he helped devise in the late 1970s.

Conventional zoning, known as “use-based” code, focuses on separation of land uses, “so you’re not allowed to live in the same district as you might work and you can’t shop in the same district as you might live,” Orr explains. “It takes up a lot of land and essentially forces an automobile-centric lifestyle.”

His alternative, “form-based” code, centers on the physical form of buildings and “where buildings get placed in relation to the street so there is a coherence and predictability,” Orr says. The approach fosters connections between streets, buildings and public spaces, along with mixed uses and walkability. “So instead of becoming conduits for automobiles,” he adds, “ streets become places for people to inhabit.

“It’s place making versus thing-making.”

Orr began contemplating such weighty issues in the mid-1970s, after growing up in Evansville, Ind., majoring in history and art history at the University of Vermont and attending the Yale School of Architecture, where he applied “on kind of a lark.” After earning a master’s at Yale, he spent a year building a house on Martha’s Vineyard while living in a tent, then became an architecture teacher at University of Miami, joining Yale classmates Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

“We began questioning everything,” Orr recalls. “One thing led to another. There were some failed attempts early on of exploring how you could make a better place to live, so we came up with some sort of written document, which was the start of form-based code.”

In researching old neighborhoods that function well, Orr says, they discovered “no matter what income or ethnicity, when it comes to human habitat we all like the same things and all dislike the same things to a remarkable degree of commonality.”

Their first development materialized in Seaside, Fla., where Orr designed the first buildings for Rosewalk, a group of small cottages surrounding a central garden court. Time magazine reportedly hailed the project as “the most astonishing design achievement of its era and one might hope the most influential,” and Orr, Duany and Plater-Zyberk became the founders of the Congress for New Urbanism.

Orr worked for architects Philip Johnson and Alan Greenberg before starting his own firm, Robert Orr & Associates in New Haven in 1982. Over the decades he has done town planning and residential, commercial, mixed-use and institutional projects, earning earned multiple awards along the way.

In 2003 Orr and his wife, Carol, bought and renovated a building at 839 Chapel Street, where he relocated his office.

“Because we couldn’t attract tenants, I came up with the idea of starting this co-working space called the Bourse, which sort of reflected the whole concept of bringing people together to relaunch what I loosely call ‘Project Civilization,’ where people are trying things and sharing things,’” Orr says. Mostly writers have co-worked at the Bourse since its opening in 2010. Events also are held there. The building now has a couple of tenants — a Pilates studio and a hair salon — and Carol Orr runs an antiques shop on the ground floor. But Orr still is seeking to fill at least 15,000 square feet of vacant space.

Robert Orr & Associates reached its apex in the 1990s, with 15 to 20 employees, a California office and projects in California, Chicago, the Midwest and the Northeast.

“When 2008 came along, everything just collapsed,” Orr says. “The national work disappeared. We’ve tried to get some things in New Haven but it has been an uphill struggle. We’ve got a house we’re doing in Costa Rica and a house in Florida, and it’s just a fraction of the stuff we used to do.”

Town planning remains a bright spot.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Orr used New Urbanism principles to rewrite zoning laws for the decimated town of Waveland, Miss. and redesigned the place. The project won a first-place Gulf Guardian Partnership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Orr recently wrote code for Stony Creek to create an official Village District designation, and he’s eager to spread the word about smart code.

“If you look at organic development throughout history, there might be certain irrational types that come up with grids and square corners,” he says. “But the prevailing tendency is to avoid steep grades and take short routes, which brings me back to my frustration with the people that insist on this regimented retardation, which is not healthy, doesn’t lead to prosperity, lowers property values and tax collection.

“People get angry [about smart code] in New England,” Orr adds. “In the rest of the country, they’re really curious.”

Hamden chief town planner Leslie Creane, however, was exceptionally curious. When she was hired a decade ago, the town’s zoning code had not been updated since 1982 and was written, she says, “to encourage sprawl development, with people living further and further away from the things they need.”

Creane says the new smart code, which became effective in 2010 following an assessment of what every parcel along the three major corridors in town should be and a five-day intensive design workshop in 2007, emphasizes “human scale and continuity between buildings.

“Now that the economy has improved, we’re getting our first buildings approved.” Among them is an AAA building, which, in accordance with the new rules, will be two stories tall and close to the front of the property. 

Hamden’s form-based code covers nine thousand acres, making it the second largest smart code in the U.S. Miami’s is the largest, encompassing 10,000 acres.

Orr currently is in the running to redo Hartford’s zoning code.

Creane is more than happy to recommend him.

“Robert is brilliant and fun to work with,” she says. “He’s always been a little ahead of his time — and that can be a lonely place.”


Montreal developer eyes $300M ‘town square’

 

 

NEW HAVEN — Imagine a shopping mecca with year-round activities, where city-dwellers can live above the bustle. That’s what Montreal-based developer LiveWorkLearnPlay (LWLP) envisions for the first phase of the redevelopment of the former Veterans Memorial Coliseum site. Renderings show several five- to six-story residential buildings with ground floor retail surrounding a “town square” courtyard teeming with life.

“Central to our vision is to create a true community gathering place,” says LWLP vice president Richard Martz. In addition to showcasing retailers and a “significant amount of food and beverage,” the town square will provide a backdrop for constantly changing events.

“We want it to be embraced by community groups as a space to have public events,” Martz adds. “Despite the Green, which has certain limitations [on activities], we wanted to create a wonderful urban square with some quality housing above that.”

Later iterations of the project include a hotel, office tower and residential tower, but those plans hinge on transforming the corner of Orange Street and Route 34 into an urban boulevard.

“Right now that corner is designed to be a highway off-ramp,” says Chris Canna, city project manager for the Coliseum project. “We’d like to make it a key intersection.”
On June 3, the city submitted an application for a TIGER V federal infrastructure grant, requesting $12.5 million for several upgrades, including improving the intersection of Orange Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard, improving the highway transition from Route 34 to an urban boulevard at MLK Jr. Boulevard and extending the regional bike system from Water Street to downtown and Downtown Crossing, the new development taking shape at 100 College Street. 

LiveWorkLearnPlay is the second developer to tackle the 4.48-acre former Coliseum site. One of the original six contenders, LWLP and Newman Architects became the preferred development team in August 2011, after the city did not renew its agreement with Northland Investment Corp.

LWLP has experience redeveloping urban downtowns and college towns. In Connecticut, they’ve worked on the Storrs Center University District, a $220 million mixed-use town center under construction near the University of Connecticut.

Phase I of the Coliseum site revival involves creation of a public square bounded by residential buildings with street-level retail on the corner of Orange and George streets.

The square will house a seasonal market, along with a wide range of restaurants, “water feature” and “activity-based retailers, not just stores that will sell stuff,” Martz says.

“There might be a yoga studio that does yoga in the square, or a wine store that does wine tastings or a cooking school associated with Gateway College,” Martz says. “Our orientation is very much toward small to medium-sized, owner-occupied businesses, the businesses that people have a relationship with and have been in the community for years and years.

“We always look at business plans that really engage with the community and have a program to find the best of the best retailers and entrepreneurs,” he adds. “Our goal is to put in local and regional entrepreneurs.”

Preliminary plans show full build-out of the site with 75,000 square feet of retail, 52,000 square feet of public space and a retail lane, 524 residential units, 200,000 square feet of Class A office space, a 160- room hotel and 25,000 square feet of green rooftop space.

“We’re exploring the possibility of commercial rooftop farming on top of the residential buildings and the structured parking,” Martz says.

The site, he adds, will have underground, deck, valet and on-street parking and the residential components of the project will include affordable units.

Regarding tenants, Martz says, “We believe there’s going to be opportunities for civil servants, policemen, firemen and for professionals like doctors and nurses, and for Yale graduate students.” 

If the corner of Orange Street and MLK Boulevard is redesigned “so it truly becomes the first intersection as you enter the city,” Martz says, “we’re planning to do a hotel on the corner of MLK Boulevard and Orange Street with a full-service restaurant, wellness center and a spa. We want it to have multifunctional space and additional community amenities such as a community fitness center.”

In addition, LWLP has plans for a residential tower, perhaps 15 to 20 stories tall, on the corner of George Street and State Street, and a Class A office tower on the corner of State Street and MLK Boulevard. The office tower, likely the same height as the residential tower, will be 100,000 to 200,000 square feet, Martz says, “depending on the anchor tenant that we land.”

Preliminary plans show a secondary road in the middle of the development lined with pop-up shops, live/work units and interactive studio/galleries. Vehicles will be able to use this “laneway,” which can be closed for events.

After completion of Phase I, according to Martz, “the Orange Street and MLK corner will determine how quickly we can move on the hotel. Once that [the hotel] is set, the office deal will be anchor-driven and the next phase, a residential tower over a retail podium, will be market-driven.”

Phase I, Martz says, covers between 35,000 to 40,000 square feet and will cost around $80 million. He estimates the total project price tag, excluding land costs, at $300 million.

And where will the money come from?

“We’re in discussions with a number of potential investment partners,” Martz says. “It will likely be privately funded. In the past we’ve had unions and pension funds invest in projects.”

The city, Martz, says has committed $2.5 million in matching funds for the $12.5 million TIGER V infrastructure grant request. “Any and all other grants and subsidies are subject to and part of our ongoing development agreement negotiations and discussions with the city,” he says. “The state is considering a contribution to the infrastructure improvements forming part of the TIGER V application, but nothing has been committed to or decided yet on that front.”

According to LWLP’s preliminary plan, the project will create 675 permanent full-time hotel, retail jobs and between 727 and 1,172 office jobs.

Martz and his team have spent the last several months discussing the project with community groups and aldermen.

“We’re very excited about it,” Martz says, “and have spent a lot of time and money over the last two and a half years to try to get it right.” 

The timetable for Phase I, he says, will depend “on the speed with which we can work through the development agreement with the city. We hope to break ground in 2015 and be open for fall 2016.”

Although some particulars will likely change during the approval process, Canna says, “LWLP has come up with “a very positive plan for the city, which does a lot to improve that site and the surrounding areas as well.

“It’s a very well thought-out design that will greatly enliven that part of town –– and put it back on the tax rolls.”

 

 NORTH HAVEN –– Carl Russell of the Pearce/George J. Smith Milford office of Pearce Real Estate has been named the agency’s top commercial agent for the first quarter of 2013. Mary Jane Burt of Edgehill Realtors was the top residential agent. "These agents are truly to be commended for doing such an outstanding job in such a challenging market," Pearce Real Estate President Barbara Pearce said in a statement.

 CHESHIRE –– Calcagni Real Estate brokers and staff recently collected more than 2,000 pounds of non-perishable food items during the agency’s annual spring food drive. The food went to the Cheshire Food Panty, Keefe Community Center, Southington Bread for Life and Master’s Manna. 

 Sales

 

Former Curagen HQ Sold

BRANFORD — A 50,000 square foot Class A office building at 322 East Main Street has been sold for $4.5 million. Steven Inglese of the New Haven Group represented the seller, TKJ Associates, and procured the buyer, 322 East Main Street, LLC. Previously occupied by a single tenant, Curagen Corp., the three-story building has multiple tenants, and was 38-percent leased before the sale. The buyer subsequently signed leases with two tenants for the entire third floor, raising the occupancy level to nearly 70 percent.

 

Red Cross Sells Building

MIDDLETOWN — Opportunity Real Estate Equities, LLC has purchased a 4,444-square-foot building at 93-97 Broad Street for $172,000. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate represented the seller, the American National Red Cross. RE/Max MarketPlace represented the buyer.

 

OR&L Closes Two Deals

MIDDLETOWN — Precision Devices Inc. has purchased a 27,365-square-foot industrial building with office and showroom space at 299 Industrial Park Road for $1,110,000. Jay Morris of OR&L Commercial represented the seller, DocuSource. Morris, along with Richard Gold and Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the buyer.

 

DocuSource has moved into the WinBrook Business Park at 716 Brook Street in Rocky Hill, leasing 6,328 square feet. Morris represented DocuSource and Morris and Bob Gaucher, also from OR&L Commercial, represented the landlord, Winstanley Enterprises.

 

R.E. Firm Buys R.E.

MIDDLETOWN — Abarientos Middletown Real Estate, LLC has purchased a 6,084-square-foot building at 80 East Main Street for $377,000. Trevor Davis was the sole broker. The seller is Philip Redford.

 

 Grand Ave. Apts. Bought

NEW HAVEN ­–– G&B Realty, LLC has purchased a 13-unit apartment complex with two two-bedroom units and 11 one-bedroom units at 83 East Grand Avenue for $595,000. Frank D'Ostilio of Real Living Wareck D'Ostilio was the listing agent. Taylor Realty was the seller. Noah Meyer of Levey Miller Maretz represented the buyer.

 

 Micali Ranges Far & Wide

NEW HAVEN — Frank Micali of Capitalize 360 Group LLC has been busy in Florida these days, most recently assisting Netz Holdings USA in the purchase of a Miami Beach office building for $15.125 million free and clear of existing debt. Netz signed the contract, financed and closed the deal in 45 days.

 

In a recent New Haven deal, Micali represented the buyers, Mandy Management and Netz-215 Church, in the sale of a two-story, 11,306 square foot Class B office building at 215 Church Street for $1.9 million, or around $168 per square foot. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo represented the seller, 215 Church Street, LLC.

 

 Drivers-Ed Co. Buys Condo

WALLINGFORD –– Liberty Driver's Education Center, LLC has purchased a 902-square-foot office condominium at 329 Main Street for $80,000 from WF, LLC. Ralph Calabrese and Tony Valenti of R. Calabrese Agency, LLC were the sole brokers. 

 

Another DD Desperately Needed

SOUTHINGTON — Three quarters of an acre at 1096 West Street will soon become an 1,800-square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts. The property recently sold for  $600,000. Ralph Calabrese and Tony Valenti of R. Calabrese Agency brokered the deal between the seller, Westcorp LLC, and the buyer, 100 East Main Street LLC.

 

Hamden Office Condo Sold

HAMDEN — 30 Washington Avenue Realty Corp. has purchased a 943-square-foot office condominium plus a 124-square-foot storage area at 60 Washington Street from Cardiology Associates. The price was $90,000. Richard Gold of OR&L Commercial represented the seller. Marty Ruff of Levey Miller Maretz represented the buyer.

 

Leases

 IPP Leases on Dixwell

HAMDEN –– The Institute of Professional Practice has signed a five-year lease for 5,521 square feet at 1125 Dixwell Avenue. The Proto Group represented the landlord, Elm City IP Holdings Inc. Steve Wollman of Wollman Realty represented the tenant. A non-profit human-service and educational organization, the institute works with people with developmental and other disabilities in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

 

Power Washer Moves to Milford

MILFORD –– GB Power Washing & Gutter Service, LLC has leased an 800-square-feet industrial unit at 181 Research Drive. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors was sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is D’Amato Investments, LLC.

 

Milford Chocolate Factory

MILFORD –– Conillin, LLC has leased an 800 square foot industrial unit at 185 Research Drive to make chocolate products. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors was the sole broker. The landlord is D’Amato Investments, LLC.        

 

New Digs for Underwriters

MIDDLETOWN — Connecticut Underwriters Inc. has leased 8,471 square feet in the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate, 421 Wadsworth Street. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker in the deal. The landlord is the city of Middletown. 

 

 ...And Another DD

MIDDLETOWN –– Dunkin’ Donuts has leased 2,140 square feet at 423 Main Street. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord, R. Balaban Realty, LLC. Wayne D’Amico of RE/Max Right Choice represented the tenant.

 

 Two to Tango

MIDDLETOWN Middletown Business Park, 430-460 Smith Road has attracted two new tenants. Connecticut Carbide & Tool Service Inc. has leased 2,190 square feet, while FIA Inc. has leased 1,114 square feet. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker in the two transactions. The landlord is BostonMiddletown, LLC.

 

 Marketplace Attracts Two

MIDDLETOWN — Two businesses have signed leases at Main Street Market, 366-386 Main Street. Reality Interactive took the top two floors of office space, totaling 6,174 square feet, while Dance Outfitters rented 1,300 square feet in the market area. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, was the broker. The landlord is Main Street Market, LLC.

 

Mopping Up in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN — Six new tenants have leased 500 square feet each at 438 Main Street. The tenants are: CardFellow, Dwight Norwood, Cosys Systems, LLC, Ted Mikulski/Empty Lighthouse, and Daniel G. Diaz Del. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate was the sole broker. The landlord is Hilltop Associates.

 

 Major Lease for 59 Elm

NEW HAVEN –– The Odonnell Co. has leased 3,954 square feet at 59 Elm Street for its headquarters. Ted Schaffer of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented tenant. Robert Motley of Cushman & Wakefield of Connecticut represented the landlord, 59 Elm Street LLC.

 

 2012 outpaces previous year by 47 percent

 

HARTFORD — New housing construction in Connecticut finally emerged from its recessionary trough in 2012.

According to new figures from the research arm of the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), 4,669 new housing units were authorized last year, up 47 percent from the 3,173  new units approved in 2011 — the lowest annual figure since the turn of the century.

For the same period, 955 units were authorized for demolition, resulting in a net gain of 3,714 housing units statewide.

Those numbers are still far below the pre-recessionary peak of housing construction, which topped out at 11,885 units in 2005, before the housing bubble burst in Connecticut and nationwide.

Fairfield County led last year’s housing-construction turnaround. There 2,138 new units were authorized in 2012, far outpacing runner-up Hartford County, with 838 new units. In New Haven County 669 new housing units were approved last year.

Statewide, the municipality posting the most new housing starts last year was Stamford, where 564 new units were authorized. Locally, Shelton saw the approval of 299 new housing units, while 145 new units were approved for construction in Milford.

Among area cities, Bridgeport approved a surprising 175 new housing units last year. Ninety-seven new units were authorized in New Haven, while Waterbury authorized 62 new housing units.

In only two of the state’s 169 cities and towns were no housing units approved for construction last year: the Hartford County hamlet of Hartland (population 2,073), and the tiny (population 1,271) Litchfield County town of Canaan.

 Class B vacancy rates are down in downtown New Haven, but not for the reasons one might imagine.

“The obvious explanation for the recent popularity of the more affordable Class B office space would be that tenants, suffering the effects of a prolonged economic slump, have tightened their belts and migrated into less expensive quarters,” reports John Keogh of Colliers International, in his first-quarter 2013 market report, which tracks 59 office properties. “It makes sense, but it isn’t true.”

The reality is Class A space has grown with the departure and/or contraction of companies like AT&T and the United Illuminating Co. as well as the conversion of many downtown Class B buildings to residential use, a trend continuing with the recent purchase of 205 Church Street by a New York developer with plans for at least 100 apartments.

As a result of these changes, the overall downtown New Haven office market vacancy rate at the end of the first quarter of 2013 (14.6 percent) nearly matches the 2007 rate (14.7 percent).

The difference between Class A and Class B space, however, is reversed. Six years ago, the Class A vacancy rate was 9.5 percent and Class B was 17.9 percent. In the first quarter of 2013, the Class A vacancy was 20.8 percent and Class B was 10.6 percent. 

Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, along with city and state government entities and non-profits are filling Class B space, according to Keogh, who sees several possible scenarios unfolding.

“You have so much A space available that Class A building owners lower prices in order to compete,” he says. “Presumably the market will firm up for B space.

“If ever there is any surge in demand, which there could be — there have been a lot of entrepreneurial startups in New Haven so it wouldn’t take much –– then Class B prices might get up to a point of pushing Class B tenants into Class A space. It certainly hasn’t happened yet.”

Chris Nicotra of Olympia Properties describes the rental market as “really hot.”

SeeClickFix recently expanded from 1,000 square feet at 746 Chapel Street to occupying the entire 5,500-square-foot third floor, says Nicotra, the building’s landlord. At 760 Chapel Street, another Olympia Properties building, business incubator the Grove, which was born in a storefront at 71 Orange Street, has signed a five-year lease for 7,500 square feet.

“I barely have a vacancy anywhere,” Nicotra adds. “People are calling. Banks are starting to open up. Deals are starting to get done.”

 NEW HAVEN — The former Union Trust building at 205 Church Street is slated for conversion into apartments. Cooper Church, LLC recently purchased the property, reportedly for around $13.5 million. The seller is Hampshire New Haven, LLC, a subsidiary of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts, which paid $10.9 million for the 11-story structure in 2009.

Hampshire did some repair work on 205 Church Street, including replacing windows and parapets, but their vision of an upscale hotel at the site never came to fruition.

The new owners want to create “at least 100 units of market-rate housing,” according to Dana Collins, spokesperson for New York-based Cooper Square Realty Inc. They have met with city officials and aren’t seeking government funds, she adds, but haven’t yet “come up with concrete plans.”

 Calgani Real Estate recently revised its website, Calcagni.com, with improved search capabilities and new agent profile pages, among other features. The full-service agency, which has offices in Hamden, Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford, handles residential and commercial properties, new construction and land consulting.

 In still-frosty credit market, an SBA loan guarantee can be a deal-maker

 

 

A bill currently being debated by federal lawmakers would require public disclosure of recent U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lending information through creation of a user-friendly database.

This Communicating Lender Activity Reports from the Small Business Administration Act (or CLEAR SBA Act, S.B. 537) was introduced by U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.).

Information on this database would include the number of loans underwritten by the lender; total dollar amount of loans; the ZIP code of those covered; the lending recipient’s industry; whether the company is existing or new; and whether the business is owned by a woman, veteran or is among “socially and economically disadvantaged small-business concerns.”

At press time the bill had been referred to the Senate’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, which Landrieu chairs. The committee oversees the Small Business Administration.

Democrat Landrieu has advocated for small businesses during her Senate tenure. She is quoted as saying in a recent Associated Press interview that businesses are challenged with “a never-ending cycle of uncertainty that makes business investment risky and is holding back growth” as they attempt to maintain viable operations.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when our economy, including small business expansion, will really take off,” Landrieu said in an April 2013 AP interview, “but we are seeing encouraging signs.”

Among those signs are healthy SBA lending activity by major financial institutions across the country. For example, in the SBA 7(a) category TD Bank made 647 loans totaling more than $205 million in 2012. JPMorgan Chase Bank made 4,338 loans totaling almost $512 million. The top lender by volume, Wells Fargo Bank, underwrote 3,173 loans with a value of more than $1.2 billion.

Each of these three financial institutions have branches in Connecticut.

The SBA 7(a) program is designed to encourage lenders to service small businesses that might not have the strongest business history. Another popular SBA loan program, the SBA 504 program, focuses on loans targeted at real estate and equipment acquisition.

“Particularly in Connecticut, we’re seeing a lot of activity in the IT market,” says Joseph A. Vanella, Northeast region manager for Wells Fargo. In addition to IT businesses, the bank also is making a number of SBA loans to manufacturing companies in the state, he says.

“Manufacturing companies are looking to refinance debt, so there’s a lot of manufacturing activity,” says Vanella, who adds that manufacturers “may be looking to make equipment purchases or own their own real estate. SBA allows small businesses to lock in their cost with low rates.

At the same time, “We’re not industry-specific,” says Vanella of Wells Fargo’s lending policies. “It’s a wide range. The SBA market encompasses a number of different companies and a number of different industries. We see everything, and we’re open to all types of businesses.”

Among new-business clients, Vanella says Wells Fargo is seeing more business acquisitions as opposed to start-ups.

Those businesses “run the gamut” from health care to manufacturing, he explains.

Helping Wells Fargo make sound SBA loans are the businesses themselves, Vanella says.

“We’re seeing good, solid business plans from borrowers,” he says. “In our group we do a lot of the real estate expansion financing. So we like to accommodate a business with that.”

Qualities of a well-placed potential client include the obvious — the ability to repay debt, for example — and particulars of an individual company.

“Does the business model make sense?” says Vanella. “Management — that’s a big deal. Experience level, their knowledge of the industry.”

He adds that companies are educating themselves about the availability of SBA assistance.

“More borrowers are cognizant of the SBA program,” he says. “More established companies are using it.”

Vanella says Wells Fargo hasn’t made any major adjustments as a result of the recession.

“We really haven’t changed our credit philosophy. We really haven’t changed our policy,” he notes.

What the bank has done is continue its emphasis of SBA support.

“We are dedicated to the small business market,” Vanella says. “We have a dedicated SBA group. I have salespeople going out and looking for SBA [clients]. “In any kind of environment we try to leverage the SBA program for the best solution [for the business]. We’re actively involved and engaged in the small-business market.”

 Companies that approach Wells Fargo for an SBA loan should be specific about their plans, says Vanella.

“We really want to know exactly what their needs are,” he says. He adds that the bank is seeing an increase in companies owned by women, minorities and veterans — major SBA emphases.

“We’re seeing increases in all of the above,” Vanella explains.

This March Wells Fargo announced a total $55 billion lending commitment to women in the 25-year period ending with 2020, updating its previously announced pledge in 1995. To date, the bank has provided more than $38 billion in capital to companies owned by women.

In addition, says, Vanella, “We’re promoting [specifically] to veterans,” says Vanella.

So is TD Bank, which has become part of a program to help military veterans become franchise owners. The initiative, announced earlier this year, is in partnership with the International Franchise Association and a pilot group of franchises that includes Dunkin Donuts, Domino’s Pizza and Baskin-Robbins, among others. Features include preferential interest rates.

Richard Bradshaw, head of SBA lending at TD Bank, says a military background provides skills that are transferable to the business world.

“[Companies owned by veterans] is a major push for the SBA in general. It also happens to be a major push for TD Bank in 2013,” says Bradshaw, himself a retired U.S. Navy reservist. “The reality is, we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”

TB Bank, whose footprint extends from Maine to Florida, touts itself as the largest SBA lender within that Eastern seaboard region.

In terms of new vs. established client businesses, “I would say I’ve seen more business expansion” than start-up entrepreneurial lending activity, Bradshaw explains. A “pure” start-up, he says — a company constructed around a product offered/created by the owner that is not tied to a traditional professional service — is “going to be a challenge,” Bradshaw says.

 “I think one of our duties is also protecting the client” with regard to the realities of the marketplace, he says. The bank also likes to see clients that don’t have what might be considered a murky business history.

“If there’s lot of litigation,” for example, “we don’t need to understand it — we’re just probably not going to play ball.”

In general, TD Bank is “very focused on strong franchise concepts,” says Bradshaw, adding that probably the bank’s biggest single category of franchise clients, in terms of lending dollars, is day-care providers. These are established day-cares, he says, noting, “We like them [the franchiser] to have 150 stores or more.”

Much of TD Bank’s SBA business also is with the professional-services sector.

“We’re very focused on the professional — dentists, veterinarians, CPAs, MDs, lawyers,” says Bradshaw, adding, “They traditionally have very low default rates.”

Many clients are looking to purchase real estate or “another like entity,” or to refinance existing debt, Bradshaw explains.

Bradshaw says TD Bank offers a “team” approach to the client, for example providing, in addition to loans, other financial-services offerings such as a business deposit account and/or a personal account if needed.

Quinnipiac Bank & Trust, headquartered in Hamden, prides itself on being a lending institution that caters to local businesses.

Like some of the larger banks, “We actually stepped up the SBA lending,” says Richard Barredo, Quinnipiac’s executive vice president. “We actually lend to small businesses that couldn’t qualify for it otherwise.”

And like bankers at other financial institutions, Barredo is seeing a number of business owners take advantage of current low interest rates, approaching Quinnipiac Bank to refinance.

Barredo has not experienced many outstanding trends over the past few years, he says.

“If anything, we’re probably seeing fewer start-ups,” he says.

One of the most important elements that will compel Quinnipiac Bank approve a loan is a sound business plan, Barredo says.

“That’s the first thing to do. We want to know what the company’s all about,” he says.

But even an owner with what might be considered an imperfect business should not shy away from approaching Quinnipiac for an SBA loan, Barredo adds.

“We take the time to learn the business and understand their situation,” he says. “We opened the doors as a community bank with a mission to service the needs of the small-business community.”

 

 As large projects loom, a mixed bag for office (high) and apartment (low) vacancy rates

 

In commercial real estate as in other matters, hope springs eternal.

 

Never more so than this spring, as a protracted winter finally yields to warmer weather, and the economic downturn slowly turns around.

Those in the trenches report heightened activity in the New Haven area. The multifamily market is thriving. Other sectors are lagging, particularly the office market in New Haven, where two major construction projects are starting, and city deputy economic development director Tony Bialecki says, “There’s no shortage of people wanting to construct new or redevelop older buildings.”

 

Here’s a look at some recent developments.

 

100 College Street, New Haven 

March 22 marked the groundbreaking for preliminary infrastructure work for this ten-story, 435,000-square-foot laboratory and office building developed by Winstanley Enterprises. It is the first phase of the Downtown Crossing/Route 34 East project, which plans to reconnect city streets between downtown and the medical district torn asunder by construction of Route 34 in the 1950s and 1960s and reclaim 10.5 acres from a network of expressway stubs and ramps for health care, residential, retail and other development. Alexion Pharmaceuticals will be the anchor tenant.

(See story page 1.)

“We are still working and planning for the next phases,” says Kelly Murphy, New Haven’s deputy mayor for economic development. These include reconfiguring Orange Street and Temple Street and the Hill-to-Downtown Planning Initiative, which targets the area between Union Station and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

 

275 Winchester Avenue, New Haven

The redevelopment of Tract A, the former Winchester Repeating Arms factory, will continue shortly with the construction of 158 upscale apartments.

 

“We’re going to break ground this spring,” says Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of Forest City Enterprises, which has been working on the project since 2008. The recession intervened, but last summer a $4 million state grant set the wheels in motion.

 

“It’s going to be a historic preservation rehabilitation with 20 percent affordable housing,” explains David Silverstone, chairman and CEO of Science Park Development Corp. (SPDC).

 

The first phase of the Tract A revival, a collaboration between Winstanley Enterprises, SPDC, Forest City Enterprises and financial services firm Higher One, was renovating 140,000 square feet of the 600,000 space for Higher One’s headquarters.

 

Naparstek says Forest’s “loft, luxury-style” studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with open floor plans, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, should appeal to graduate students, young professionals and empty nesters. The average monthly rental will be around $1,800, and leasing will begin around 60 days before the project is completed in summer 2014. 

 

“New Haven has a very low residential vacancy rate, so we’re very optimistic about these units,” Silverstone says.  “As soon as that is closed, we will turn our attention to the rest of tract, which is around 250,000 to 300,000 square feet. That will be commercial or residential — whichever we can attract.”

 

Adds Naparstek, “We have the opportunity to do another 200 apartments.”

 

In other downtown news, Montreal-based Live Work Learn Play and Newman Architects, the preferred developers of the 4.6-acre former Veterans Memorial Coliseum site, soon will unveil a mixed-use plan they’re crafting with a strong retail component.

 

Also, a deal may be in the works for the sale of 205 Church Street, according to city officials, who identify the prospective buyer only as “a major residential developer.”

 

Office Market

Cushman & Wakefield executive director Bob Motley describes 2012 as a challenging year for landlords and brokers. “Because you had a very sluggish economy, you weren’t creating jobs,” he explains. “And when you don’t create jobs, you don’t have the need for additional space.

 

Sectors adding jobs include education, research and medicine, according to Motley, who says employers “are asking more of their workers in law, financial services and other professions.” He predicts gradual improvement in employment during 2013.

 

What this means for the New Haven office market, however, is not a pretty picture.

 

“Between direct vacant space and sublet space, there is a Class A vacancy rate of over 25 percent,” Motley says. “We have not seen that since 1992,” when the economy was just emerging from recession. “I don’t see that number dipping below 20 percent before the end of the year.” Per-square-foot rental rates, covering everything, range from $26.50 to $32.

 

Motley is hopeful large chunks of Class A office space may come off the market eventually. Among them are the former United Illuminating Co. headquarters at 157 Church Street, with around 90,000 square feet of unoccupied space, 555 Long Wharf Drive, with 80,000 square feet lying fallow and 265 Church Street, where Wiggin & Dana is trying to sell the 15th and 16th floors (33,000 square feet combined).

 

Not surprisingly, these kinds of conditions place “continued pressure on landlords to further come off their asking rents,” accompanied by “pressure by small and mid- to large tenants looking for concessions,” Motley says. “We’re seeing free rent coming back with a vengeance, with six to 12 months [free] on a ten-year lease. You’re seeing landlords throw out money to build out space from $30 to $35 [per square foot] in improvement allowances. In select instances, some landlords are throwing out free parking. It’s going to be a tenant market for next 12-18 months.”

 

Industrial Space

 

Inquiries about industrial properties are up thus far in 2013, says OR&L Commercial’s Frank Hird, who is pitching several major parcels, including the 165-acre former Pratt & Whitney plant in North Haven, which will be razed to make way for a new industrial park. Hird is optimistic about closing deals in coming months.

“High-bay warehouse is strong,” adds OR&L Managing Director J. Richard Lee. “Low-bay industrial is not so much in demand. We continue to lease space, but not in big chunks yet.”

Another broker, who asked not to be named, paints a bleaker picture of the industrial market.

 

“It has been really bad for the past year and it’s still slow,” the broker says. “A lot is going on but it’s not new business and it’s not eating up vacant space.”

 

Though plenty of older buildings are available, they’re a tough sell because they don’t fit current market demands and may not be conveniently located.

 

“Most of the industrial deals are renewals, renegotiated at lower rates,” the broker says. “There aren’t a lot of tenants moving around, and no landlord in their right mind lets a tenant leave.”

 

Multifamily Market

The outlook for 2013 is “extremely positive,” according to Steve Witten, executive director of Institutional Property Advisors, which often arranges sales of multifamily properties. In a recent deal, two Milford portfolios with 335 multifamily units and 476,000 square feet sold for $72.4 million. 

“If we look back at the financial crisis, the commercial real estate industry came back before the single-family residential market,” Witten says. “Multifamily was the bright spot favored by investors, with yields superior to any other [property] type on the market. That market has continued to strengthen to some extent, though we’re not back to, or at par to, the height of the market in 2007.”

 

In 2012, New Haven made national news with the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the nation. “This year it’s still a top performer,” Witten says.

 

The New Haven apartment vacancy rate currently is two percent, according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent quarterly Commercial Real Estate Outlook.

 

Witten says investors these days tend to be large private buyers making purchases with family money or a fund they’ve set up. There also are plenty of smaller investors looking for quality projects. Yields typically are between seven to eight percent cash-on-cash return, a formula used to measure the return on actual cash invested in an income-producing property during the first year of ownership.

 

“This is unique time in the market,” Witten says. “There is a pent-up demand to purchase properties. There is a reasonable yield. There are dirt-cheap mortgages, reasonable prices and reasonable seller expectations.

 

“It is a market in balance. It’s not a seller’s market and not a buyer’s market. The stars have aligned for all parties involved and we think that will persevere for another year or so. “

 

At some point interest rates will rise, Witten adds. In the meantime, multifamily brokers are “the beneficiaries of the need to keep interest rates low to stimulate the economy and to stimulate the residential housing market.”

 

Retail Market

On the Boston Post Road between West Haven and Milford, vacancy rates “have definitely been declining to under ten percent,” says Mike Richetelli, president of Colonial Properties.

Businesses occupying empty space include Chef’s Equipment, which leased around 14,000 square feet at 449 Boston Post Road in Orange, and Universal Hotel Liquidators, which purchased 8.2 acres with three buildings and more than 70,000 square feet at 855 Boston Post Road in West Haven.

Three major parcels in Milford are ripe for development: the seven-acre former Smiles entertainment complex at 1595 Boston Post Road; 2.5 acres at 1553 Boston Post Road (formerly Milford Automatics), and 1698 Boston Post Road, a 3.81-acre parcel between Costco and Whole Foods Market with a former Mexican restaurant and the Post Motor Inn.

“We working with a couple of developers, seeing interest from a lot of national restaurant chains and talking to a couple of home-furnishings firms,” Richetelli says.

Post Road rental rates took a hit during the recession, with prices for better spaces dropping from $16 to $18 per square foot to $12 to $14.

Richetelli cites strong inquiries over the last several months and higher than usual activity “for this time of year.

“People looking to relocate or open a new business are calling on our listings, which is very promising,” he says. “I would anticipate activity is going to continue to increase, and with warmer weather coming it’s going to even get better.” 

Lou Proto of the Proto Group also is getting “a lot of inquiries on a lot of properties.

“But the reaction time for people to pull the trigger is longer than usual,” adds Proto, who works with national retail chains. “The phone rings. We show a lot of stuff that doesn’t necessarily come to a deal.

Overall, Proto sees a stable market with consistent pricing.

 

“Last year we had a good year, and that’s what we’re anticipating for 2013,” he says. “But going into the future, we hope it gets better.”

 

Shoreline

Branford is seeing the most activity because it has the largest concentration of flex space and office buildings and is the last town with sewer for biotech, according to Kristin Geenty, president and CEO of the Geenty Group, Realtors. Overall vacancies are up over 2012, “probably 12 percent across the board,” she says.

So far, 2013 has been more active than 2012,” Geenty says, “with people willing to make moves that they were holding off last year.

“Businesses are contracting, they’re moving, we don’t have a big influx of new businesses starting and we don’t have a lot of people from out of state banging on the doors to come into New Haven County,” Geenty adds. “Most of the transactions are moving from downtown New Haven to Branford [e.g., as Celldex Therapeutics did in February], and local shoreline businesses are growing within the towns they’re in.”

Investors, though not institutional investors, are out looking, and available properties are in short supply. “We’re not seeing spec[ulative building],” Geenty says.

What she is seeing is more interest — and deals — in flex space.

 “There are some Class A office buildings, but people are looking equally at flex buildings,” Geenty says. “If they can go in to an office building at  $14 to $16 [per square foot], they probably can go into a flex at $10 to $12. Once you’re inside you really can’t tell the difference. They give up the formality [of things like curb appeal and common lobbies]. But when you’re talking about call centers and biotech, they’re more interested in efficiencies than ambience.”

Also along the shoreline, a two-story, 20,000-square-foot office/medical addition to 385 Church Street in Guilford should break ground this summer, says Rich Lee of OR&L, which is marketing the space.

 

 Developer Winstanley stresses jobs, business opportunities

 

NEW HAVEN — Developer Carter Winstanley expects to break ground for the ten-story, 435,000-square-foot laboratory and office building on June 1. After 20 months of construction, followed by tenant improvements, he explains, 100 College Street “should be open for business 24 to 26 months from the start.”

It will be a LEED silver building, with energy-efficient fixtures and sustainability measures that could include green walls, solar panels and wind turbines. “We are just at the front end of that investigation,” Winstanley said.

The price tag for the building is at least $100 million in private funding.

Infrastructure improvement began this March, and will cost $32 million, according to Kelly Murphy, New Haven's deputy mayor for economic development. “We are closing Exits 2 and 3 [of the Route 34 Connector] eastbound,” she said, adding that the College Street Bridge will become a road with tunnels into the Air Rights Garage.

Murphy also says the project will create 2,000 construction jobs and 600 to 900 permanent jobs, along with $73 million in direct wages and $22 million in goods and services.

Elkus Manfredi Architects designed 100 College Street, CJ Fucci Inc. doing the infrastructure improvements and John Moriarty Associates is constructing the building.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals will occupy 75 percent of 100 College Street and Yale will lease the remainder of the space, according to Winstanley. There will be street-level retail, starting with a 4,000-square-foot restaurant/café, with indoor and outdoor seating, on the front (south side) of the building.

“The primary goal was to get some sort of café space,” Winstanley explains. “We felt that would be most important — to open the building up to make the connection to the public and the street. We will have several doors open into the seating area.

“We’re still working on the design for additional retailers,” Winstanley adds. “I’ve looked at everything from art galleries to wine stores to clothing. It could be almost anything.”

Winstanley is seeking local businesses for the project. On March 27, some 50 people attended a 100 College Street Business Fair. “It went reasonably well,” he reports. “I am always disappointed that more people don’t show up. We’re trying to create opportunities for as many people as possible, and I know there are people that we haven’t reached. So I’m going back to the Greater New Haven Business & Professional Association to continue to tap into other groups. We’re also working very carefully with the Workforce Alliance to get people in line for jobs.

“There’s a good amount of construction that’s going to take place in the city, mine and Forest City’s [project to construct 158 upscale apartments at Science Park],” Winstanley adds. “We have a real need for painters, electrical, concrete and drywallers. We’re going to be touching all the trades, and going to break down packages to reasonable sizes and see it we can match as many local contractors as we can.”

The matchmaking begins this month. The best person to contact is city construction resource supervisor Lil Synder, Winstanley says. “A lot of the bid packages get funneled through her office.”