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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
February sales fall for first time in 13 months
BOSTON — February home sales in Connecticut declined for the first time in more than a year as demand outstripped supply and the shortage drove median prices higher, according to the Warren Group. Condo sales also slipped.
Single-family home sales statewide dropped to 1,149 units, down 7.7 percent from the 1,245 units sold during the same month in 2012. It was the first decline since December 2011.
"Two factors caused this modest drop in February: low inventory and a comparison with a strong previous year of sales," said CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. "Even so, I'm still hopeful for a strong spring market. As more sellers list their homes in the spring, activity will pick back up."
To date in 2013, single-family home sales are down nearly two percent from a year ago. Statewide, 2,542 transactions were executed in the first two months in the year, down from 2,577 during the equivalent period in 2012.
Median prices rose more than seven percent in February to $225,000 from $210,000 in 2012. The year-to-date median home price is also up about seven percent — from $210,000 a year ago to $225,000 in 2013.
February condominium sales fell in Connecticut to the lowest sales level in two years. There were 306 condo sales in February, down almost 11 percent from 343 sales during the same month of 2013.
According to Warren, this is the lowest level of sales since February 2011, when there were 302 transactions statewide. Year-to-date condo sales are up modestly, rising slightly less than two percent to 720 from 706 last year.
The median price for condos sold statewide in February declined almost ten percent to $139,516, down from $155,000 during the same month last year.
The median selling price for condos sold in January and February was $155,000, unchanged from the median price recorded a year ago.
Confidence is running high among industry professionals polled for the latest McGladrey Commercial Real Estate Index, which measures the health of Connecticut’s commercial real estate market in office, industrial, retail and investment.
The overall index rose to a record high of 26.5 in the first quarter of 2013, up seven points year-over-year and up sharply from 14.9 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Current market conditions also reached a new high, climbing to an index level of 26.7 versus 17.8 a year ago. Future expectations set a new index high of 26.3, rising 11 points from the final quarter of 2012 and up four points year-over-year.
Ninety-two real estate brokers, real estate developers, bankers, appraisers, and economic development officials from around the state participated in the most recent survey, which also showed respondents were downbeat about the economy and slow job growth.
BRANFORD –– The RE/MAX Alliance franchise at 10 Pine Orchard Road has a new owner. George Scott, who worked for William T. Beazley Co. for two decades, has acquired the office from co-owners Phil Carloni and Alison Barbaro. The office name will remain the same, and all 22 employees will remain on the payroll.
NEW HAVEN –– Two downtown parcels are being auctioned.
One property, 4.87 acres at 240 Winthrop Avenue, is the site of a 71,585-square-foot former nursing home and 2,844-square-foot former administration building. The property is in a residential zoning district (RM1).
The second parcel, at 790 George Street, is 12 acres of vacant land in a general business district (BA) with 43 feet of frontage on George Street. The properties are a mile from Yale-New Haven Hospital and two blocks from its Saint Raphael campus. Potential uses include multi-family, convalescent, elderly housing, garden apartments, day care and assisted living. Bids are due April 10 at 5 p.m.
More information is available at: auctionadvisors.com/auctions/property-details/former_nursing_home_redevelopment_opp_2.
NORWALK –– A shopping center at 542 Westport Avenue has become the first project in the state to receive financial assistance for energy-efficiency improvements from the Commercial & Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE). Lighting upgrades to the plaza, owned by Margaret and Michael Sarno of Weston, cost $285,000 and are expected to reduce electricity costs by $17,500 a year. The Sarnos also may use C-PACE to finance a 100-kilowatt solar electric system.
Passed by the state legislature in 2012, C-PACE is aimed at commercial, industrial and multifamily property owners, who can finance qualifying energy-efficiency and renewable-energy improvements through a special assessment (lien) on their property tax bill, which is repaid over a period of up to 20 years. The owner obtains funding directly with a private capital provider.
Here’s a link to more details about the program: dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=CT98F.
WALLINGFORD –– The Campus at Greenhill, 108 Leigus Road, has received LEED Core & Shell certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainable design.
The two-story, 287,970-square-foot campus received high marks for its under-floor air and cabling systems, abundant natural light and amenities including a fitness center. Tenants include Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Connecticut and Burns & McDonnell Engineering.
Pearce Names Top Producers
Carl Russell of the H. Pearce Real Estate/George J. Smith office in Milford has been named the 2012 top commercial agent for Pearce Real Estate. Other commercial agents inducted into Pearce’s 2012 Chairman’s Circle include Peter Brown, Joel Galvin, Rich Guralnick and Chris Nolan of the North Haven office and John Bergin of Pearce/George J. Smith Milford office.
New Broker for Pearce
Richard Lombardo has joined H. Pearce Real Estate Co./George J. Smith as an associate broker in its Commercial Division in Milford. He comes from the UIL Corp. (parent of the United Illuminating Co. following a 35-year career in marketing and sales. A certified energy manager, lighting efficiency professional and carbon reduction manager, Lombardo has assisted design professionals and customers in evaluating energy efficient options in commercial buildings.
Hamden Land Sale
HAMDEN –– Acquisition Holdings, LLC has purchased 2.44 acres of land at 1717 Dixwell Avenue for $720,000 at an online auction. The Proto Group represented the buyer. Ken Ginsberg of NAI Elite represented the seller, Hamden Pond LLC.
Historic Apartments Sold
HARTFORD –– Clemens Place Apartments, a 597-unit multifamily complex at 16 Owen Street, has been sold for $29.5 million.
Institutional Property Advisors (IPA), a New Haven-based multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap, brokered the sale of the 1920s-style community, which is sited on a 17-acre site with two commercial spaces in 42 renovated buildings. Thirty-one of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
IPA executive directors Steve Witten and Victor Nolletti advised the seller, Intown West Associates Limited Partnership and Westtown, LLC. The buyer is UOB Eagle Rock Multifamily Property Fund LP.
Witten says the complex is “the largest historic housing rehabilitation development in New England.”
Where There’s Smoke
NEW HAVEN –– Khawaja Sheraz has leased 1,364 square feet at 118 Grand Avenue for Smoker's Market 2, a convenience store. Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors, represented the tenant. Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group represented the landlord, Three Brothers, LLC.
Ecuadorean Consulate Re-Ups…
NEW HAVEN –– The Consulado de Equador has renewed its five-year option for 4,400 square feet at One Church Street. Coldwell Banker represented the tenant. The Proto Group represented the landlord, One Church Street Associates.
...And So Does Yale
NEW HAVEN –– Yale University extended its lease for five years for 11,065 square feet at One Church Street for its School of Medicine C.O.R.E. program. The Proto Group represented the landlord. Yale did not use a broker.
Let the Sunlight In
NEW HAVEN –– Sunlight Solar has relocated from Milford to 90 Hamilton Street, signing a one-year lease for approximately 5,000 square feet. Dan Britton found the space, after a two-year search, on Craigslist.com, and negotiated a deal with the landlord, Christopher Syvertsen of Lincraft Contracting & Development Inc. “I tried working with brokers numerous times,” Britton says.
Drywaller to No. Haven
NORTH HAVEN –– D. Snead Drywall, LLC has leased 4,000 square feet at 459B Washington Avenue. Marty Ruff of Levey Miller Maretz represented both the tenant and landlord, Mais Realty LLC.
Steaking a Claim in Orange
ORANGE –– Prime 16 Tap House & Burgers has leased 5,000 square feet at 464 Boston Post Road for its second location. Mike Richetelli and Fred Messore of Colonial Properties were the sole brokers. The landlord is Leveraged Equities, LTD. Most recently occupied by Mark Barry’s, the space is being renovated for a May 1, 2013 opening.
Doubling Down in Rocky Hill
ROCKY HILL –– NIC Systems has expanded from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet at 51 Belamose Avenue with the recent lease of an adjacent 5,000 square feet. The Proto Group represented the tenant. Cushman and Wakefield represented the landlord, Hampshire Properties.
Sign of the Times
WATERBURY ––American Sign of New Haven has leased 1,423 square feet at the CVS/Aldi anchored plaza at 464 Reidville Drive for a new retail store. The Proto Group was the sole broker. The landlord is 500 Monroe Turnpike Associates.
The housing market recovery that never quite got off the ground may at last be gaining traction
It’s common knowledge that the past few years have seen a stalled residential real estate market, a leading victim of the down economy.
So, how is the industry faring now?
Well, it’s coming around — sort of.
“The national real estate market is clearly in a period of recovery, with increasing demand and rising prices in most parts of the country,” says Barbara Pearce, president and CEO of H. Pearce Co. Realtors. The 55-year-old, North Haven-headquartered company has more than 140 real estate agents in the greater New Haven and Shoreline areas.
What they and Pearce are seeing is that while the national climate is improving, Connecticut is “lagging behind,” as Pearce notes. She points out that the Nutmeg State ranks No. 46 out of 50 for the indicators on which the national ranking is based.
The numbers support this poor performance, with the average list price dropping for most municipalities in the region between 2011 to 2012, according to figures compiled by Pearce. In Bethany, for example, the average list price for residential homes, condominiums and multi-family units dropped from $397,603 in 2011 to $372,918 in 2012. In Guilford the decline was from $581,100 to $519,863. West Haven’s drop was from $191,843 to $175,413.
Overall, the average sale price in Connecticut dropped from $326,818 in 2011 to $324,001 in 2012.
However, these figures are tempered by the difference between average sale price in 2011 compared with 2012 in a number of municipalities. In Bethany, the average sale price in 2011 was $315,271. That rose to $347,371 in 2012, an increase of 10.2 percent. Westbrook also experienced a positive change, from $322,151 in 2011 to $359,184 in 2012, or 11.5 percent. And the average sale price in Deep River jumped an impressive 21.1 percent between 2011 and 2012, from $258,755 to $313,278. The figures for Essex are even more impressive, with the $425,174 average sale price in 2011 increasing to $540,314 in 2012 — a 27.1-percent boost.
The original sales-to-listing-price ratio increased slightly from 2011 to 2012, from 89.1 percent to 89.3 percent. And the market speed picked up. In 2011 2,772 units were sold within 90 days. That rose to 3,328 units sold within 90 days in 2012.
Such action, while Connecticut falls behind the nation as a whole regarding its real estate transactions, leads Pearce to observe, “But it is also changing.”
Pearce, who practiced law before starting to work for the company her father started, is well positioned to assess and summarize market trends. She notes, for example, that buying bidding has picked up, an sign of market improvement.
“While prices in greater New Haven are still falling slightly, we have seen the beginnings of a seller’s market even here, with multiple offers becoming commonplace on new and well-priced listings,” says Pearce.
There’s also somewhat of a silver lining in the latest figures, Pearce states in her Market Watch report for the fourth quarter of 2012.
In Connecticut, she says, “Things never got as bad, prices never went down as far, and therefore they are not popping back up as quickly. We still have spots where listings are hard to come by, but by and large there is a good choice for buyers in most areas.”
Realtor Michael Barbaro, of New Haven-based Huntsman, Meade & Partners Compass Realty, says the market is excellent for buyers now.
“I’m actually perplexed as to why it’s taken so long to improve. It’s a very unique phenomenon,” he says. “You have historically low interest rates and lower-than-average housing prices.”
Barbaro, who serves on the executive committee of the Connecticut Association of Realtors and serves as spokesperson for the Greater New Haven Association of Realtors, says more people should take advantage of what he views as optimal conditions for homebuyers.
“There’s never been a greater time to buy a home than there is right now,” he says.
In the above-mentioned market report, Pearce pinpoints interest rates and other variables that could affect the market as 2013 progresses.
“Interest rates are still low — very low — and prices are more flexible than usual,” she writes. “People who are moving have been able to sell their homes where they came from, and, with the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the country, the New Haven area is a tough place to land a good rental. All those things cause sales.
“In addition, the uncertainty in Washington has not gone away, but the immediate crisis has been averted,” adds Pearce. “Some nervousness still exists, which makes the stock market dicier than usual, and that also helps real estate as an alternative investment. We are between two strong markets — Boston and New York — so that should help us as well.”
Another positive harbinger is that sales in every pricing category from $300,000 up rose between 2011 and 2012, according to data collected by Pearce. In 2011 there were 1,781 sales of homes priced between $300,000 and $499,999 in Connecticut. In 2012 that went up to 1,827, and increase of 2.6 percent. Sales of homes in the $500,000 to 799,999 category rose 5.8 percent, from 466 in 2011 to 493 in 2012. There were 142 sales of houses costing between $800,000 and $999,999 in 2011, and in 2012 sales in this category numbered 150 – up 5.6 percent. Sixty-six homes in $1 million and above category soled in 2011, compared with 79 in 2012, a 19.7 percent increase.
Overall, there were 4,451 unit sales totaling $1.45 billon in Connecticut in 2011. That rose to 5,235 unit sales totaling $1.54 billion in 2012.
The demand in Connecticut is not so much for newly built homes, says Pearce. That could be a result of predetermined parameters.
While “New homes are big in many parts of the country,” she says, “we tend to be less focused on new construction here, because we have little to no population growth and even less open land.”
What buyers are looking for in the homes they purchase is quality.
“In existing homes, the demand is for good condition, good location and a good deal,” explains Pearce.
The real estate online monitoring site Trulia.com shows a range of average listing prices for homes in the New Haven area for the week ended March 13. Perhaps surprisingly, homes in the downtown area averaged $249,862, on the low end. Higher average listing prices for that week could be seen in sections such as Westville ($315,818), East Rock ($431,415) and Prospect Hill ($521,804). These, along with downtown and the East Shore area ($220, 766 average listing price) were among the more popular neighborhoods in which to purchase homes, according to Trulia.com.
In the past few years Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital have encouraged employees to purchase their first home within the region with the help of programs that offer financial assistance. This helps build stronger and more stable neighborhoods, enhancing communities, say advocates. It also helps push up sales near work places.
Barbaro has had buyers who have been greatly assisted by such programs.
“For some people we are definitely seeing that,” he says, adding, “I’m seeing younger couples out there in the market.”
And they’re able the purchase the kind of property they’re seeking, he adds.
“At this point, because interest rates are low, I don’t think people have to settle,” Barbaro says.
“First-time homebuyers are still driving the market, so the lower the price the higher the demand,” says Pearce. “While we have inventory for seven to nine months, which is three times most national markets, homes over $1 million pull that up, so turnover is obviously faster in the lesser price ranges.”
Homeowners are aided by low mortgage rates, Pearce agrees.
“Mortgage rates are still historically low, although 40 percent of people buying in Connecticut now pay cash,” she says. “First-time buyers rarely do, and down payments are an issue, as are appraisals. This always happens in improving markets, since appraisals are based on closings and therefore lag the market.”
State government has accelerated its push to make public transportation improvements a priority throughout the state, saying that it is among the elements that will draw and keep permanent residents and businesses. While access to public transportation is important to some homebuyers, it holds less significance for renters, says Pearce.
“Public transportation is a plus, but less important than with rentals,” says Pearce. “The rental market is still incredibly strong, and prices have gone up dramatically at the high end, during a period when home prices have declined.”
What’s generating inquiries in the New Haven area now? Condos, says Pearce, while Barbaro adds that “Condos are great starter homes.”
Currently, condominium properties are “seeing more activity and interest,” according to Pearce. “In downtown New Haven condos are very limited, and have always actually outperformed the single-home market, so Whitney Grove Square and Audubon Court are exceptions to the general rule.”
According to Pearce, the average final list price for condos in New Haven in 2012 was $194,826, while average sale price was $164,585. The average closing period was 58 days.
A notable observation is that in Orange, condos actually sold for more than the $373,848 average list price. The average sale price for the town in 2012 was $380,172, which was 104.5 percent of the final list, according to figures supplied by Pearce.
Bulls outweigh bears in charting Elm City’s commercial prospects
There is more than enough doomsday rabble-rousing going around the nation these days, so one can hardly be blamed for feeling less than confident about the future.
New Haven has reached its 375-year milestone, but looking ahead another quarter century might be a daunting task in this climate. Nevertheless, many in the business community are less than worried, and by all accounts find that the region has a good future ahead of it.
New Haven’s central business district is doing well when it comes to real estate development, especially if as illustrated by the relatively low vacancy rate of storefronts downtown.
Chris Ortwein is business-center manager for the Town Green Special Services District. She notes that, given the number of projects in the pipeline for the short term, some areas of the city center may look vastly different within a decade. She points specifically to the Route 34 project, the establishment of 100 College Street, and the planned eventual location of LiveWorkPlay on the former New Haven Coliseum site.
“New Haven is in a great position at this point,” asserts Ortwein. “We’re going to be reconnecting a city; there is a whole generation that probably doesn’t know what it was like to have one downtown before [the Route 34 connector] split that. To re-grow downtown will be wonderful.”
Ortwein acknowledges that it remains to be seen what impact the 100 College building will have on economic development, “but we hope it will be the first of several buildings on that site,” she says. “To be downtown and have that availability of acreage to build on is a wonderful asset. It will change the economy in a way that hasn’t happened for a while. When we come to our 400th anniversary, the town will look different.”
The 100 College Street project is an 11-story biomedical lab research and office building adjacent to the Route 34 connector. Cheshire-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals will be the building's first tenant, relocating its headquarters to the Elm City.
Lou Proto, principal of commercial real estate firm the Proto Group,may not have a crystal ball to look into the future, but similarly agrees the city and the region is well positioned.
“I think there will be a lot of changes in the city in the next couple years,” Proto says. “The commercial sector has been very stable, picking up and increasing all the time, and the city has been good to work with.”
Jeff Dow of Dow Realty also looks forward to the promise of the 100 College building, and sees a bright future ahead, particularly because of Yale University and the Yale-New Haven Hospital. He also says the city is “ahead of the curve” with its success in the apartment market and livability, but officials need to be mindful of taxes and fees that could make business owners look elsewhere.
“The city needs to make smart decisions to encourage development and really has to try to be business-friendly and lower the cost of doing business,” says Dow. “They have already done a lot that — the city had a big hand in getting 100 College Street — and they need to continue to do that in other areas. Then the city will thrive.”
Dow also says the city has done much to improve public safety, but it must do more since he regularly hears concerns — many based simply on perception — from potential businesses owners and residents who may be afraid to venture into the city or downtown.
The Elm City already has a vibrant arts scene, and if its cultural momentum can be maintained, the next quarter century could be just as exciting, if not more so.
Cindy Clair, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, says the arts community is “remarkable” for a city this size.
“I believe the arts have the potential to grow, to evolve and engage new and wider audiences in ways we can’t even imagine,” she says. “For the arts to thrive, we’ll need strong and steady financial support to sustain the cultural anchors and provide the kind of risk capital that allows them to experiment. And we’ll need affordable spaces where emerging arts groups can perform and artists can create.”
The International Festival of Arts & Ideas has been a virtually quintessential part of early summer in the Elm City since its founding in 1996. Mary Lou Aleskie’s first festival as executive director took place in 2006. By her account, New Haven has had a strong and resilient arts scene — anchored by Tony Award-winning theaters (the Shubert’s historic role as "Birthplace of the Nation’s Greatest Hits”) and one of the oldest symphonies (the 119-year-old New Haven Symphony Orchestra) in the country — that has benefited from its modest size to the extent that it could be a model city for incubating new art forms as technology and media evolve.
“I think the scale of New Haven — in terms of population, scale of the buildings, the intimacy with which we live — is the cornerstone dynamic that makes it a great incubator for new ideas and new things,” Aleskie says. “As high-speed trains continue to advance and our own individual obsession with technology pulls us further from each other, places like New Haven that are built on its humanity, given its size and geography, will be a tremendous asset. Whatever’s in the DNA of New Haven will create the new models for the future.”
Aleskie adds that financial means are key as well, and based on experience with the festival, she knows that a little extra money can go a long way toward making cultural endeavors more successful.
The manufacturing industry also faces challenges but thee is optimism about its future here, according to Jack Crane, director of growth and innovation services for the Connecticut State Technology Extension Program (ConnSTEP).
“The New Haven manufacturing scene has a significant chemicals component, some metals, machining, forming and medical devices, so it’s a mixed bag,” Crane says. “It’s going to grow because people have recognized the fact that it’s an important ingredient in job creation and innovative thinking.”
Crane says most of Connecticut’s manufacturing lies in exacting, precision manufacturing, while high-volume output mostly has migrated overseas. The challenge he finds is in increasing technical demands and quality of labor while getting enough returns to reinvest with.
“If you can’t reinvest in people, equipment and new technology, you’ll be in a position that really hurts you. Hopefully the support at the state level will stay,” he says. “If we can get over that we’ll have a bright future because we are seeing production come back.”
He says the manufacturing of medical devices shows promise because he sees significant growth in the health-care industry.
Health care is one area the New Haven region has well covered already thanks in no small part to Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine. Bruce Koeppen, MD has been named founding dean of Quinnipiac University’s medical school, which will welcome its first class this August. He points out that with three medical schools in the state (including Yale’s and Quinnipiac’s locally) along with a solid record and infrastructure, the outlook for the region’s health-care industry is good.
The real challenge he finds is in establishing what he sees as a changing health-care model that will move toward “team medicine,” rather than a model that places the physician at the center of the universe.
“The old paradigm was that the physician was the captain of the ship, but the news is that the health-care team is analogous to a NASCAR pit crew, where you’ve got people with a broad range of expertise all coming together to take care of the patient,” Koeppen explains. “It’s a team effort.”
Koeppen says it’s important to start teaching the doctors of tomorrow today to work in the new paradigm.
“They need to learn who their colleagues are, so they can seamlessly become members of these teams. Change is always difficult — it’s a cultural change. Let’s start that during the medical education process,” he says.
Vin Petrini, senior vice president of public affairs for Yale-New Haven Hospital, says that team mentality is already a reality at his institution. With New Haven being “an epicenter for medical services” for the whole state, Petrini finds the biggest struggle for the future to be keeping up with a changing economic landscape and quality expectations.
“The hospital and the providers need to figure out a way to deliver high-quality care in a much more cost-effective manner,” he says. “We also need to start thinking more holistically — shifting from the sick-care system to a well-care system, where we treat the patient and family before, during and after hospitalization — to monitor and intervene at the right times to prevent illness. I think that’s where the hospital and health care is leaning.”
He adds that the hospital will see more consumer-driven care as well, especially as patients become better educated on their options.
As an extension of the health-care industry, the region’s bioscience sector is looking good with plenty of startups and major state initiatives such as the Innovation Ecosystem. Frank Marco is a partner at the New Haven law firm of Wiggin & Dana, who represents clients in the bioscience and technology sectors.
“Look at the investment China is making in bioscience,” he says. “It’s being viewed as an area of growth, the curing and investigation of diseases, and there is a groundswell of new technologies. In Connecticut, we have a critical mass of resources.
“New Haven is incredibly well positioned, given Yale and the intellectual property generated there, and a number of pharmaceutical companies, so there’s a large pool of talent,” Marco adds, noting that funding will be critical going forward.
“Venture capitalists have largely moved away from early-stage bioscience companies because it can take up to hundreds of millions of dollars to get a company along,” he explains.
Harry Penner, chairman of New Haven-based bioscience firm Affinimark Technologies, whose lead product detects cerebrospinal fluid leaks in patients, likewise says the consistency and availability of funding will play a large role, particularly for startups.
“There is recognition among startups that there needs to be a good amount of bootstrapping before getting series A financing,” he says. “There is a very important role for seed financing that the state can play, and then of course a lot of the science can be incubated within the university system, which can be helpful.”
Likewise Penner says its encouraging that the state has launched initiatives and invested in research institutions.
“When you’re looking over the hill you can only see so far,” he notes. “This is a sector that is going to become increasingly important as we look at the aging population and the myriad scientific discoveries coming out of our major institutions.
“We have a good base,” Penner says. “Are we ever going to be Cambridge? San Francisco? I doubt it — but there is a very good place for New Haven in that mix.”
HARTFORD –– Most members of the Connecticut/Western Massachusetts chapter of SIOR believe market conditions stabilized during the second half of 2012 and are likely to improve in 2013.
Nearly all of the group’s 50 members responded to its latest poll, covering July 2012 to December 2012.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said market conditions stabilized during the second half of 2012, while 36 percent said they improved. Fifty-eight percent were optimistic about 2013, 32 percent expected no change and ten percent predicted declines.
Members were less sanguine about lease rates during 2013. Eighty-eight percent of respondents expect industrial rates to remain the same; 12 percent predict increases. Ninety-three percent believe office lease rates won’t change and seven percent expect declines.
Forty-seven percent of respondents expect industrial vacancy rates to hold steady during 2013, while 41 percent anticipate decreases and 12 percent expect increases.
Fifty seven percent of respondents believe office vacancies will remain largely unchanged, 36 percent expect decreases and nine percent predict increases.
Most respondents believe prices have stabilized for industrial properties (70 percent) and for office properties (72 percent). They also think improvements in market conditions during 2013, however, will be “slight and slow,” due to high employment and forthcoming state and federal tax hikes, among other factors.
EAST HAVEN –– Shop Rite will be the new anchor store for the FoxHaven Plaza at 713-745 Foxon Road.
Shoprite/Wakefern has signed a long-term lease for 60,000 square feet formerly occupied by A&P and Big Y.
H. Pearce Commercial brokered the deal.
Rich Guralnick and Chris Nolan of Pearce’s North Haven office represented the Pyramid Construction Group, which owns FoxHaven Plaza. DeForest Smith and John Bergin of Pearce/George J. Smith Commercial in Milford represented the tenant.
Smith said the 20-year lease included options extending as long as 75 years, and the store should open within six months after an extensive upgrades to the property. Improvements include a new building façade and a redesigned parking lot with new lighting.
“It’s nice for the town of East Haven because it takes a non- productive asset and now it’s a tax-paying asset,” Smith said.
Ocean State Job Lot and Payhalf are among current tenants at the 125,000-square-foot shopping center, which has around 25,000 feet of vacant space.
Shop Rite is a registered trademark of Wakefern Corp. a retailer-owned cooperative with more than 220 supermarkets in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The East Haven store will be the fifth Shop Rite in the state, and will be owned and operated by the Garafalo family of Milford, which operates all the other stores — in Milford, Stratford, West Haven and Hamden.
WATERBURY –– Konover Commercial Corp. has won a new five-year contract from the state Department of Administrative Services to manage three office buildings with parking garages. Two are in Waterbury, at 55 West Main Street and 395 West Main Street. The third is
at 59 Field Street in Torrington.
Farrel Complex Fetches $2M
ANSONIA –– Washington Management, LLC has purchased the 398,107 square foot Farrel Corp. complex at 25 Main Street for $1.9 million. Alan Fischer of Fischer Real Estate represented the seller, Ansonia Real Estate Holdings, LLC. Vance Taylor of the Commercial Real Estate Group represented the buyer, which plans to transform the ten-acre downtown site with ten buildings into a mixed-use development with retail, offices and condominiums.
Take It to the Bank
NEW HAVEN –– An 11,306-square-foot brick building at 215 Church Street has been sold for $1.9 million. The Bank of Southern Connecticut currently leases the space for its main branch and corporate offices. Frank Micali of Capitalize 360 Group LLC represented the buyer, Netz-215 Church. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo represented the seller, 215 Church Street, LLC.
From Restaurant to Retail
CHESHIRE –– FoodWorks has leased 5,800 square feet at 959 South Main Street, replacing a Chinese restaurant that closed its doors over two years ago.
“I just kept trying to rent it to a restaurant,” says Lorraine Tartaglia, a principal with Tartaglia Commercial Properties of Monroe, which owns the 60,000-square-foot shopping center where FoodWorks will be opening its fourth Connecticut store. “It was too big, and I eventually decided to turn it into retail."
Tartaglia handled the negotiations between the landlord, Cheshire ILMR LLC, and FoodWorks, which is one of her tenants at Clock Tower Square in Monroe, another of the 20 shopping centers her company owns in Connecticut.
Tartaglia has seen an uptick in retail renting as of late.
“We signed eight leases in the last four months,” she reports.
Four leases were at 835 Wolcott Street, Waterbury, where new tenants include AAA, leasing 2,000 square feet and Beltone, leasing 900 square feet. Les Frankoff of Prudential represented AAA.
Another deal was at 477 Main Street, Monroe, where Nuvita Frozen Yogurt signed a five-year lease for 2,486 square feet for its fourth Connecticut store. Jeff Kintzer of Royal Properties represented the tenant.
Crunch Time in Orange
ORANGE –– Crunch Fitness has signed a 15-year lease with two five-year options for 28,000 square feet at 440 Boston Post Road, a vacant space since Office Max departed in 2006. Frank Bowser of PPG Properties was sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is RPAI America.
“We’re building out the fitness center, with a complete demolition of the interior and up to $1 million in renovations,” says PPG CEO Bryan Bowser. “What’s nice is we take it from the minute that we have the idea that a space has got to be leased, we negotiate and lock up the lease, go through permitting for the town, build it out and at the end of the day hand them the key. We also manage the property.
“We’re looking at an early May  opening,” Bowser adds.
In December 2012, PPG brokered a similar deal for 22,000 square feet for a Crunch Fitness gym at 1100 Barnum Avenue in Stratford.
“We will be doing several other ones, targeting Stamford, Danbury and other areas,” Bowser explains.
Over the past couple of years PPG has filled vacant storefronts, many on the Boston Post Road in Orange, with businesses including Hibachi Grill and Jake’s Wayback Burgers.
“We concentrate on large boxes and small,” Bowser says. “Instead of taking clients from across the street we go out of the state and find companies looking to expand in Connecticut.”
In October, two days after Hurricane Sandy, PPG brokered a 4,100-square-foot lease deal for a State Farm disaster claims center in Orange, at 477 Boston Post Road.
Celldex Leases in Branford
BRANFORD –– Celldex Therapeutics Inc. has leased 6,600 square feet at 688 East Main Street. Cameron Duffy of Jones Lang LaSalle represented the tenant. Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the landlord, Parish Farm Partners, LLC.
Broker to Biz Park
BRANFORD –– Investment One Equity Brokers, LLC has leased 1,040 square feet at 9 Business Park Drive. Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the landlord, Bellaire Properties, LLC. Edward Shattuck of Greater New Haven Realty represented the tenant.
Not Bailing on E. Haven
EAST HAVEN –– New England Bail Bonds, LLC has leased 650 square feet at 57 High Street. Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group, Realtors was sole broker in the transaction. The landlords are Gury and Felicia Grippo.
Security Firm Pens 5-Year Lease
HAMDEN –– Ducibella Venter & Santoro has signed a five-year lease for 3,400 square feet at 1004 Sherman Avenue. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was sole broker in the deal, representing the security consulting and engineering firm and the landlord, WTE 1020 Sherman LLC.
Rocking Out in Madison
MADISON –– The School of Rock has leased 3,000 square feet at 845 Boston Post Road. Steve Inglese and Rob Montesi of the New Haven Group represented the tenant. Frank Hird of OR& L Commercial represented the landlord, David Realty, LLC.
Digitech to Research Drive
MILFORD –– Digitech Imaging Solutions, LLC has leased 800 square feet at 249 Research Drive. Scott Zakos of Vidal Wettenstein represented Digitech. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the landlord, D’Amato Investments, LLC.
Ten-Year Deal for Builder
NORTH HAVEN — A-Plus Building Supply, LLC has signed a ten-year lease valued at $700,000 for 171 McDermott Road. The property includes a 9,000-square-foot industrial building and three acres of parking and outside storage area. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz Commercial Real Estate Services was the sole broker. The landlords are Anthony DePaola and Vincent DePaola.
Tapped Out on Rt. 1
ORANGE –– Prime 16 Tap House & Burgers has leased 5,000 square feet at 464 Boston Post Road. Mike Richetelli and Fred A. Messore of Colonial Properties were the sole brokers. The landlord is Leveraged Equities, LTD.
NORTH HAVEN –– Frank Hird has high hopes for the rebirth of the 165-acre former Pratt & Whitney property at 409-415 Washington Avenue.
“There’s going to be very significant activity there over the next five years,” predicts Hird, vice president of OR& L Commercial, which has the exclusive listing for the site.
OR&L recently announced plan to create a “NewConn Intermodal Park” on the site, and is marketing the property as “the largest industrial development site” in southern Connecticut. The outdated 1.3-million-square-foot Pratt & Whitney building will be razed, and Hird expects demolition work to begin in the next month or so.
“It’s a fantastic site, with a four-lane road going in and out, and easy access to I-91 and the Wilbur Cross parkway,” Hird says. “We could put a rail siding in. It has heavy power available, city water, city sewer and there is a very large high-pressure gas line on the property.”
Hird became interested in the site last summer, while seeking space to construct a building for a client. But the owners, 409-451 Washington Ave. Partners, “didn’t want to sell what amounted to a small lot,” Hird recalls. “Being a broker, I did the natural follow-up question: ‘Well, what are you doing with the property?’ It really was set up for a single user and just doesn’t work for the requirements of today’s marketplace. We advised them to demolish the building, and they gave us the listing.”
The property is generating “significant interest,” Hird reports, “from a wide variety of companies looking for large modern buildings that would include office, warehouse distribution and potentially any kind of manufacturing.
“We’ve developed a wide variety of plans, and we can accommodate anything from 100,000 to over one million square feet,” he adds. “We’ll deliver what the market demands. Even if they aren’t LEED buildings, they will be more efficient because modern building techniques are so far advanced.”
OR&L many not necessarily construct the buildings, Hird says, because the owners could decide to sell lots to buyers bringing in their own builders.
Hird also is bullish about other defunct manufacturing properties he’s marketing. “The former 650,000-square-foot Pratt & Whitney building (at 75 Aircraft Road) in Southington, is getting good activity,” he says. “So is the former ThermoSpas (a 140,000-square-foot structure at 155 East Street in Wallingford featuring 24-foot clear ceiling heights and 80-column spacing).
“It has got me thinking,” Hird concludes, that “this is going to be a