WALLINGFORD — The Courtyard New Haven Wallingford has put the finishing touches on an $800,000 renovation. The work was done to update the 600 Northrop Road property's public spaces including the lobby, restaurant, fitness center, meeting rooms and patio. The highlight of the renovations is the new state-of-the-art lobby which welcomes guests with vivid contrasting colors, including blue, green, copper and red. The traditional front desk is replaced with separate welcome pedestals to create more personal and private interactions when guests check in. The lobby also features a new eatery known as “The Bistro — Eat. Drink. Connect,” described as a new “dining concept” of casual, flexible seating, easier access to food and higher quality, healthier menu options for breakfast, as well as light evening fare, including snacks and a full bar.

 STAMFORD — Connecticut is the sixth most expensive state for rental housing, according to a new report. Betsy Crum, executive director of the Connecticut Housing Coalition, says that her group’s "Out of Reach" report shows that the aggregate hourly wage a family must earn for a two-bedroom apartment that costs no more than 30 percent of their annual household income is $23.37 — or just under $49,000 annually. "Around the state of Connecticut they would have to have 2.8 full-time minimum-wage jobs in order to afford that two-bedroom apartment," Crum says. However, rental costs vary widely across the Nutmeg State, with Stamford having the second-highest rates in the country, while Waterbury is Connecticut's most affordable rental market.

 WOODBRIDGE — The Oak Lane Country Club & Golf Course in Woodbridge is going on the auction block. The facility boasts a 24,000-square-foot clubhouse, 18-hole championship golf course (6,680 yards, par 72; designed by Geoffrey S. Cornish), three pools, eight tennis courts, a groundskeeper’s home and 180 acres of land. (The deal also includes everything from tractors to weedeaters.)

The reason for the sale? The club, apparently, is another victim of a bad economy. As a result of declining membership (at one point the club had several hundred members, but that number has declined to about 200), the 50-year old club, located at 1027 Racebrook Road, is going to be auctioned off at 1 p.m. May 10. The reserve price that must be met  is $1,590,000.

More information about the property and the auction is available at tranzon.com.

Housing starts in Connecticut in 2010 inched their way out of the recessionary trough of 2009, rising 3.9 percent from 3,786 to 3,932 year over year. But that figure, released earlier this month by the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development, remains far below the pre-recession norm, which peaked in 2005 with 11,885 housing permits issued.


Local governments across Connecticut also authorized the demolition of 834 housing units, resulting in a net gain of 3,098 units during 2010.


The most active areas of the state for home construction were New Haven and Fairfield counties, where 1,019 and 926 housing permits were issued, respectively, in 2010.


The most permits for new homes — 478 for the year — were issued by the city of New Haven. But that figure includes a major data-distorter — the completion of a major new residential development at 360 State Street, a mixed-use “green” project that includes 500 rental housing units.


The second most active municipality in Connecticut was Danbury, which authorized the creation of 128 new units of housing.


In New Haven County, the most new residential units (after New Haven) were green-lighted by Milford, which approved 90 new units. Wallingford (63 new units) and the once-rural but now fast-growing towns of Prospect and Oxford were also engines of housing activity, approving 48 and 45 new homes, respectively, during 2010.


 NEW HAVEN –– Although the overall New Haven vacancy rate rose slightly during the first quarter of 2011, growing from 11.6 percent to 11.7 percent, the changes “are insignificant,” according to Colliers International senior broker John Keogh, who cited them in his latest quarterly marketing report tracking the ebb and flow of tenants in 57 office properties. It was the fifth consecutive quarter the vacancy rate has risen.


“What you had is this very slow erosion, which didn’t start during the first couple of years of the economic downturn because Yale kept leasing space and the one deal with Covidien [for some 130,000 square feet at 555 Long Wharf Drive] brought vacancy way down, and it didn’t show up until those bigger moves stopped happening,” Keogh explains.


The latest big move to “outweigh the erosion” is Higher One, which will vacate its current 50,000 square feet at 25 Science Park next year, when its new 140,000-square-foot headquarters is completed at the former site of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co.


Keogh says the city’s vacancy rate is “low relative to what it is elsewhere in Connecticut, and what it is elsewhere in the U.S. — and to what it has been  historically in New Haven.”


Lackluster leasing has led to more landlord concessions of late. “In the last three to six months, I’ve noticed there seems to be a greater willingness on the part of landlords to offer free rent or a period of reduced rent at the outset of the lease and tenant improvements,” Keogh says.


For the most part rental rates haven’t risen. One exception is 59 Elm Street, which hiked office space from $19 per square foot to $21.50 in the last year.


“The market has held up quite well through a protracted period of economic downturn and there are still positive things happening like Higher One,” Keogh says. “But there are some clouds looming in the distance.”


The most noticeable cloud is what will happen at 157 Church Street in 2012, when United Illuminating Co.’s lease expires at the Connecticut Financial Center. “They’ve got 240,000 square feet and may keep 40,000 to 50,000,” Keogh says. “Another question is what happens with the Yale development office, which is leasing 60,000 square feet from UI in the building.”


Questions well worth pondering.


 NEW HAVEN –– To honor its late founder, Herbert H. Pearce and his commitment to community service (see story, page 1), the H. Pearce Co. will hold a May 13 blood drive at locations in New Haven, Branford and Wallingford.

Pearce, who died April 18, “lived 95 full years, rich with dedication to charitable giving,” said his daughter, H. Pearce President and CEO Barbara L. Pearce, “so we decided to celebrate his life in the spirit he would most appreciate. We chose this cause because Herb had leukemia and benefited from transfusions.”

Blood will be drawn May 13, between 12:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Red Cross at 703 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the H. Pearce office at 1236 Main Street, Branford and between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. the Pearce Commercial Listing building at 50 South Main Street, Wallingford. 

 NEW HAVEN –– There’s a new venue in town for special events. The lobby of the 24,000-square-foot, three-story, Greek revival-style building with vaulted ceilings at 45 Church Street, former home to Wachovia Bank, has become a setting for weddings, theatrical productions, non-profit gatherings and others.

“We’re still trying to find the perfect tenant, and would like to rent the entire square footage to a single user,” says John Wareck of Wareck Real Estate. “However, we are talking to 8,000-square-foot tenants about the first floor, and we get calls from a lot of nightclubs but we don’t want one there.”

Meanwhile, Wareck is  renting the lobby to single-day users. “The first ones were non-profits, which get a rate as low as $1,500,” he says. “Weddings and catered corporate events can go up to $4,000 a day.”

 WALLINGFORD –– The Campus at Greenhill has a second tenant.

Burns & McDonnell Engineering has signed a 7.5-year lease for 26,000 square feet at the 300,000-square-foot office building at 108 Leigus Road where Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Connecticut inked a ten-year lease with developer Workstage-Connecticut LLC last September for 218,000 square feet. Cushman & Wakefield’s Robert Motley represented the tenant and the landlord in both transactions.

Burns regional administrator Carl James said the Campus will be the New England regional headquarters for the company, which will relocate 85 employees from its current location in Wallingford, and provide “room to grow to 120 in the next few years.”

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the full-service engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm is owned by its more than 3,000 employees.

James said the new space has a “significant amount of” natural light, and the open floor plan includes a huge room that can be divided into three conference rooms.

The rapidly growing company began its search for a place to consolidate its Wallingford employees about a year ago, looking in Rocky Hill and other nearby locations.

“We really wanted to stay in the area,” James said. The Campus at Greenhill, which was under construction for the Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc. before it filed bankruptcy in 2007, fit the bill but didn’t become feasible for Burns until Anthem signed their lease last year.

 NEW HAVEN — Wareck Real Estate has purchased the name and phone number of Audubon Associates, a local residential real estate agency run for 25 years by the late Margaret Brooks. Wareck principal John Wareck became the designated broker for the agency after Brooks died on November, 7, 2010.

“The estate asked me to step in because the two brokers working under Margaret had several deals in the works,” Wareck explains, adding he arranged to acquire the Audubon name and phone number when the company was closed. He also hired its two brokers, Patricia Pierce and Meg Turner, to become the Team Audubon Associates at his agency.

“I didn’t want people they had worked with to lose track of them,” says Wareck, who first met Brooks in the 1970s at the Foote School, where she was his French teacher. In the last year Wareck expanded his commercial real estate business into the residential arena.



Indust. Condos Sold

NORTH HAVEN — Ron and Renee Randall have paid $214,000 for two industrial condominiums at 222 Elm Street totaling 2,900 square feet. Albert Scafati of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented the buyers and the seller, the Three Z Realty Trust I.




Movers Move to Branford

BRANFORD –– The New Haven Moving Equipment Inc. has leased 6,000 square feet at 14 Beaver Road. Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors, represented the landlord, the Joan G. Adams Appointment Trust.  The same firm’s Kevin Geenty represented the tenant.

 New Metro PCS Store

EAST HAVEN ––Zone Wireless Corp. d/b/a Metro PCS, has leased 1,660 square feet at 272 Main Street, the former Pocket Wireless location. David Fleischman of the Geenty Group represented the landlord, SKF Main, LLC. John Faris of CB Richard Ellis-Grossman Retail Advisors of Boston represented Metro PCS.

Bouncing Babies in Guilford

GUILFORD –– Nutmeg Twisters Gymnastics, LLC has leased 10,000 square feet of office/industrial space at 301 Soundview Road. Joel Galvin of H. Pearce Commercial represented the landlord, DAD Brecciaroli LTD Partnership. Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the tenant.

Dixwell Dialysis Center

HAMDEN –– DaVita Inc. has signed a 15-year lease for 9,000 square feet at 3000 Dixwell Avenue for a dialysis center. Cushman & Wakefield senior associate Evan O'Brien represented the tenant and the landlord, Centerplan 3000 Dixwell Ave. LLC.

Centerplan recently purchased the 13,000 square foot building from DECA Properties for $1,625,000, and O'Brien represented both parties in that transaction. Quest Diagnostics occupies some 2,400 square feet in the same building.

 Milford Plaza Inks Tenant

MILFORD –– Nonna’s Pizza has signed a ten-year, $700,000 lease for 3,000 square feet at Milford Plaza, 155 Cherry Street. The deal includes a five-year renewal option valued at $430,000, according to Jonathan Gould, chief executive officer of Stonemar Properties, which owns and manages the plaza.

Saugatuck Commercial Realty and Stonemar Realty Management represented the landlord and First Service Williams of Connecticut represented the tenant.

Nonna’s is making minor modifications the space, previously occupied by Vazzy’s Restaurant, to accommodate its takeout business.

With the new lease, the plaza, anchored by ShopRite Supermarket, Bob’s Department Store and Dollar Tree, is now 94-percent occupied. 

 More Gems for Chapel St.

NEW HAVEN — Arpaia Lang Jewelers has signed a three-year lease for 1,700 square feet, the entire retail space, at 804 Chapel Street, plus around 400 square feet of basement storage. John Wareck of Wareck Real Estate represented the tenant and the landlord, 804 Chapel Street New Haven, LLC. 




Several area brokers are recipients of 2010 CoStar Power Broker awards.

Jon Angel, president of Angel Commercial, LLC, earned a 2010 CoStar Power Broker Award for Top Industrial Leasing. This is the sixth consecutive year CoStar Group has selected the company as a top producing brokerage in Westchester County and southern Connecticut.

Albert Scafati and Joel Nesson, senior commercial advisors at Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services, are among the 2010 CoStar Power Broker award winners for Top Leasing Brokers in the Westchester/southern Connecticut region.