2012 outpaces previous year by 47 percent


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each of these three financial institutions have branches in Connecticut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


Here’s a look at some recent developments.


100 College Street, New Haven 

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

(See story page 1.)

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


275 Winchester Avenue, New Haven

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Office Market

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


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


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


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


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


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


Industrial Space


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

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

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


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


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


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


Multifamily Market

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Retail Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, Proto sees a stable market with consistent pricing.


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



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 [2013] 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

 WALLINGFORD –– Citing four consecutive quarters of increased sales deposits last year, Candace Adams, CEO and president of Prudential Connecticut Realty, sees “positive signs” for the Connecticut residential market. “Based on our fourth quarter report [2012] findings, sales should continue to recover [in 2013], with prices leveling off and stabilizing,” Adams reports. The company’s fourth-quarter market report also found more Connecticut residents choosing to buy rather than rent than in the previous three years, and that record low interest rates and low prices would gradually increase sales of existing homes and new housing permits “through 2013 and beyond.”

 BOSTON — There’s more evidence of recovery in the residential market. According to a new Warren Group report, sales of single family homes in Connecticut rose 14.8 percent to 24,276 in 2012, compared with 21,141 in 2011. In addition, 2012 was the best year since 2009, when there were 24,401 sales, according to the Warren Group.





New Home for Olde Ways


HAMDEN –– Olde Ways, LLC has purchased an 18,5000-square-foot industrial building at 1050 Sherman Avenue for $575.000. Stephen Press and Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo represented the seller, LILEE Association, LLC, while Press procured the buyer.




$72 Million Milford Deal


MILFORD –– Two portfolios totaling 335 multifamily units and 47,6000 square feet have been purchased for $72.4 million.


Victor Nolletti and Steve Witten of Institutional Property Advisors (IPA), a multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap, arranged the sales to Perpetual Real Estate Partners, LP and Wolff Enterprises II, LLC.


Perpetual Real Estate Partners LP bought Spinnaker Wharf, Spinnaker Walk and Spinnaker Square — a portfolio overlooking Milford Harbor with 107 rental units and 38,963 square feet of retail/commercial space in downtown Milford –– for $31,800,138. “This is irreplaceable real estate,” Witten said in a statement.


Wolf Enterprises paid $40,603,227 for Spinnaker Brook, Spinnaker Chase, Spinnaker Crest, Spinnaker Green, Spinnaker Hunt and Spinnaker Station –– a portfolio with 228 multifamily units and 8,731 square feet of commercial space near the Milford train station. “These assets are poised to provide excellent returns for their respective investors,” Nolletti said.




Middletown Apts. Fetch $27M


MIDDLETOWN –– Windshire Terrace, an 11-building property with 226 apartments on 15 acres at 72 Forest Glen Circle, has been sold for $27 million. The buyer, Fairfield Residential Co, was self-represented. CB Richard Ellis represented the seller, New Boston Fund.




One In, One Out in Milford


MILFORD –– KBC Electronics Inc. has purchased an 8,044-square-foot industrial building at 273 Pepes Farm Road for $630,000. KBC, which makes products for the automotive, medical, military and residential markets, acquired the property from Baron Consulting. Baron will move to 181 Research Drive, where it recently signed a lease for 3,200 square feet. The landlord is D’Amato Investments. Baron’s services include chemical analysis, and environmental, biochemical, biotechnical and industrial hygiene testing.


Angel Commercial was the sole broker in the purchase and lease negotiations. “The needs and requirements of KBC Electronics and Baron Consulting were ideally matched in terms of property specifications and timings,” said company president Jon Angel.




Pricy N.H. Parking Garage


NEW HAVEN –– A five-acre parking and repair facility with an 8,000-square-foot garage at 164-170 Middletown Avenue has been sold for $1,850,000. The buyer is 170 Middletown Ave., LLC. The sellers were Salvatore and Louis DeLucia. Marty Ruff of Levey Miller Maretz was the sole broker in the transaction.




APT Buys in No. Haven


NORTH HAVEN –– The APT Foundation has purchased a 10,145-square-foot building sited on 2.45 acres at 352 State Street for $1 million. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz represented the buyer. Ken Ginsberg of NAI Elite represented the seller, L&M Realty, LLC.




Some Assembly Required


STRATFORD ­­–– Cactus, LLC has purchased an 11,181-square-foot building at 300 Benton Street for $760,000. The seller was 300 Benton Street Associates, LLC. Cactus will use some 4,500 square feet for light assembly and storage; the remainder of the building is leased to long-term tenants. Angel Commercial represented both parties in the deal.










Guralnick Legend Grows



BRANFORD –– Research & Design Innovations LLC has signed a five-year lease for 7,350 feet at 33 Business Place Drive. Rich Gualnick of H. Pearce Commercial was sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is Business 2 Park Realty.




Things Cooking for Caterer


BRANFORD –– Catering By Christine has inked a two-year lease for 1,850 square feet at 906 West Main Street. Brita McGee of Colonial Properties was the sole broker. The landlords are Bruno and Angela Ceniccola.




Woodworker Relocates


MILFORD –– Delphis Woodworks, LLC has leased 800 square feet at 233 Research Drive. Geenty Group Senior Vice President Bill Clark was sole agent in the deal. The landlord is D’Amato Investments.




Plantscaper’s Biz Blooming


MILFORD –– Connecticut Plantscaping has leased 800 square feet at 225 Research Drive for storing and distributing indoor plants.


The Geenty Group’s Bill Clark represented the landlord, D'Amato Investments, LLC. Noreen Daniells of Coldwell Banker represented the tenant.




From Bagels to Braciola


MILFORD –– Piada Italian Kitchen has penned a five-year lease for 2,600 square feet at 1590 Boston Post Road, formerly occupied by Village Bagels. Brita McGee of Colonial Properties was the sole broker. The landlord is Milford Post Associates, LLC.




Milford Industrial Lease


MILFORD –– American Custom, LLC has leased approximately 3,000 square feet of industrial space at 43 Eastern Steel Road. Angel Commercial represented the tenant and the landlord, Connors Properties, LLC.




Marlin Biz Ctr. Lures Non-Profit


NEW HAVEN –– Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis Inc. has signed an 11-year lease for 10,500 square feet at the Marlin Business Center, 235 Nicoll Street. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz represented the tenant. Richard Lee of OR&L Commercial, represented the landlord, 85 Willow Street NH, LLC.




New Papa John’s in Orange


ORANGE – Papa John's Pizza has signed a five-year lease for 2,000 square feet at 112 Boston Post Road. Brita McGee of Colonial Properties represented the tenant. Tyler Lyman of RHYS represented the landlord, Post Hill Limited Partnership.




Firelite Lures New Tenant


ORANGE –– Mercury Medical has leased 900 square feet of office space for three years at the Firelite Shopping Center, 35 Old Tavern Road. Brita McGee of Colonial Properties represented the tenant. Royal Properties represented the landlord, Orange Firelite Properties LLC.




M&A Firm to Woodbridge


WOORDBRIDGE –– The Woodbridge Group, LLC has signed a lease at 1764 Litchfield Turnpike that includes the build-out of 3,000 square feet. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz represented the tenant, an international mergers and acquisitions firm. Steven Ingeles of the New Haven Group represented the owner, 1764 Litchfield Turnpike, LLC.




By Jove, It’s Bicuspids!


NEW HAVEN –– Dentist Shyam Desai has signed a six-year lease for 2,500 square feet at 883 Whalley Avenue. Steve Miller of Levey Miller Maretz represented the landlord, 883 Whalley Avenue, LLC.  John LaBella of ReMax Right Choice represented the tenant.


 Commercial Realtors celebrate top transactions of 2012


The Greater New Haven Board of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division (CID) convened December 13 at Racebrook Country Club in Orange for its annual awards for superlative real estate transactions by member commercial Realtors in 2012.


Along with sharing holiday cheer members discussed with a reporter their view that 2012 remained a challenging year for business, especially regarding bank financing. Most in the group said it was a third year of progress and anticipated that 2013 would see an improving commercial real estate climate in the region.


The awards:


Top honors for Business Sale were garnered by John Bergin of Pearce/George J. Smith, for Milford retail business Wines and More. The sale included the business, inventory and a 7,000-square-foot retail store with a 4,000-square-foot warehouse. Sale terms were confidential. Bergin represented both the buyer and seller, perhaps the reason the deal was made in two days.



Rich Lee of OR&L Commercial had the largest Office Lease of 2012: 20,000 square feet for 25 years at the Crossroads Medical Center on Devine Street in North Haven, valued at $15 million. Lee was sole broker and New Haven Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine, which expects to open its new facility this coming October, is the lessor. The hospital currently is housed at 843 State Street in New Haven. The new facility will double the facility’s size.



The largest Office Sale was consummated by the OR&L team of Frank Hird and Toby Brimberg. The $3 million transaction was for 23,000 square feet on 5.13 acres at 97 Barnes Road in Wallingford to Edible Arrangements, the national franchisor of locations that sell and deliver fruit baskets and related items. Hird represented the seller, SKF 97 Barnes, LLC, while Brimberg represented buyer 97 Barnes Road, LLC. The building was built in 1983 and renovated in 2008. Currently 6,800 square feet remain vacant.



The CID annual award for Investment Sale went to Carl Russell of Pearce/George J. Smith for sale of a 40,600-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility at 235 Edison Road in Orange, the former headquarters and manufacturing base of Wallach Surgical Products. Numet Machining Technologies penned a ten-year lease for $3.4 million plus an agreement to perform substantial improvements to the property, valued at $600,000.


The seller insisted that there would be no transaction without a sale and an investor, TMC Orange, was located to purchase the property for $3.4 million. TMC Orange is a subsidiary of TMC Properties, LLC, which owns and manages industrial and office real estate on the east and west coast.


Numet is a contract manufacturer of precision-machined components requiring complex geometrics and exotic alloys. It is a self-release provider of flight critical parts to GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and the U.S. Department of Defense. Numet will be consolidating operations from three different locations into the Orange location.



A 25-year ground lease at 365 Queen Street in Southington valued at $3.8 million was the largest Land Lease, brokered by Frank Hird, Phil Marshall and Toby Brimberg, all of OR&L Commercial. The lease was signed by Webster Bank, which has been at the location for 40 years. Galaxy, the owner, will further develop the site to expand the bank’s drive-through and add additional parking, landscaping, and improved access to Loper and Queen streets.



Mike Richetelli of Colonial Properties, and Robert Cole of Arnold Peck’s Commercial World, shared honors for the largest Retail Sale. The site at 855 Boston Post Road in West Haven included three buildings totaling 72,000 square feet of retail space on 11 acres. The Route 1 property was formerly used by Grossman’s and most recently by Dadd’s Extreme Sports. The building features 60,000 square feet in the main building, with two “pad” buildings totaling 11,000 square feet. The property was sold to BART Realty, LLC  (Universal Hotel Liquidators) for $2.4 million. Universal is one of the largest hotel liquidators in the country and had formerly been in leased space on lower State Street in New Haven. Richetelli will help lease the currently used portion of the site. Cole represented the seller, Hide Realty, LLC.



Press Cuozzo’s Joel Nesson was cited for the largest Industrial Sale. The October deal was for a five-building, 104,000-square-foot complex on 14 acres. The sale of Phoenix Research Park at 408-410 Sackett Point Road in North Haven sold for $3.8 million. The seller was Lake A, LLC, and the buyer was SK PT, LLC, a tenant in the complex. SK PT services the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. 



Fred A. Messore of Colonial Properties, who was selected in September as a 2012 Business New Haven Rising Star for his success at Colonial and his role in economic development in the towns of Seymour and West Haven, earned the award for the Most Transactions — 35 — in 2012, with an aggregate value of  $10.7 million.


The transactions included the sale of a 13,600-square-foot building on 0.97 acres at 449 Boston Post Road in Orange to Chef's Equipment Emporium for $1.4 million. The building, formerly Murphy & McCoy’s Furniture Store, had been vacant for several years. Another of Messore’s transactions was the sale of 1 Care Lane in West Haven to the University of New Haven. The 30,092-square-foot former Soundview Healthcare Center nursing home sits on 4.5 acres. 


Messore also leased a NuVita Yogurt & Café in the Westfield Mall to a father-and-son retailing team. The café has grown from one location in Orange to additional spots in Milford and Branford, with a fourth in Monroe currently under construction.



The 5,342-square-foot Brix Restaurant (formerly the Pavilion Restaurant during the 1970s and ‘80s) spent 14 years on 1.09 acres at 1721 Highland Ave. in Cheshire. The restaurant building was sold for $715,000, a transaction that earned Steven Press of Press/Cuozzo honors for Business Sale with Real Estate. Press was the listing agent; the transaction closed in February 2012. The seller was BG Associates and the buyer and new operator is Dino Ricciardone, who opened his new Luca Ristorante in Cheshire. Pattie Raffile of C-21 AllPoins Realty represented the buyer.



Honors for Largest Industrial Lease were shared by Matt O’Hare of CBRE and Lou Proto of the Proto Group. The industrial/office building was leased for a ten-year term for $5.9 million.        


Tools and safety products distributor Colony Hardware Corp. leased all 102,610 square feet of space at 269 Lambert Road for its corporate headquarters and distribution center.


Colony Hardware started as a hardware store in Meriden in the 1940s and was purchased by Michael Weiner in 1988. According to the Orange Economic Development Commission, the company has grown to become “the recognized regional leader in the distribution of tools, safety equipment and supplies for professional contractors.” Colony also has a tool repair and rental division and operates locations in Albany, N.Y., Boston and Landover, Md.


O’Hare represented the building owner, Lighthouse Real Estate Ventures. Colony was represented by Proto.



Lou Proto of the Proto Group earned the award for the largest Land Sale, 7.8 acres on lots three and four at Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The property was owned by Readco Capital Partners of Old Lyme and the sale went to Westbrook Flat Rock, LLC (d/b/a Middlesex Hospital) for $2.5 million for a new 60,000 square-foot emergency center. Proto represented the seller, and Tom Coughlin of Coughlin Management Services represented the buyer.



The largest Retail Lease of 2012 was brokered by Steve Patten of the Proto Group for a transaction at 1467 Whalley Avenue in New Haven, the site of a former Blockbuster Video location. The 4,200-square-feet of retail space was leased for 20 years to C&L Whalley, LLC (d/b/a Denny’s Restaurants) at a value of $1.5 million. Patten represented the landlord ACL/Smartyale, and Denny’s was represented by RHYS Commercial.



The largest Mixed Use Sale was awarded to Frank D’Ostillo of Real Living Wareck/D’Ostilio for a sale at 402 Crown Street and 45 Howe Street in New Haven for $720,000. Current tenants include Enterprise Car Rental. The site was for many years home to New Haven landmark Blessings Chinese Restaurant. The sites consist of two buildings, each approximately 4,000 square feet in size. The seller was Alex Rivera and the buyer 402 Crown, LLC, a local investment mortgage company. Frank D’Ostilio was sole broker in the deal.



The CID Chairman’s Award was presented to Business New Haven Publisher Mitchell Young for the business journal’s ongoing coverage and support of the Commercial Investment Division of the Greater New Haven Board of Realtors. “Young and the newspaper have long shown their commitment to the region’s economic development and the essential role that CID Realtors play,” chairman Mike Richetelli said.


 HAMDEN — Stephen Press has received the 2012 Business Sale with Real Estate award from the Greater New Haven Association of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division for the $715,000 sale of the former Brix Restaurant, a 5,342-square-foot freestanding building on 1.09 acres at 1721 Highland Avenue, Cheshire.


Press/Cuozzo’s Joel Nesson won the CID’s 2012 Industrial Sale of the Year award. He was the sole broker in the $3.8 million sale of Phoenix Research Park, a five-building, 104,000 square foot complex on 14 acres at 408-410 Sackett Point Road, North Haven.

 WATERBURY –– Commercial leasing posted a strong year in 2012, with the opening of 17 new businesses in the Brass City, creating more than 150 new jobs and, along with several expansions, adding more than $3 million to the city’s grand list in machinery and equipment. Realtor Tom Hill outlined the progress in a recent broadcast of his radio show on WATR (1320 AM). Five restaurants opened in downtown Waterbury last year, creating more than 60 jobs:  Politics Bar & Grill, Shamrock Bar & Grill, Dottie’s Diner, Meadow Street Grille, Jake’s Wayback Burger and Buffalo Wild Wings. Also, BADD Motorcycles, John Boyle Paint, the Dutch Flower Lady and Harbor Freight inked leases in Waterbury, creating at least 15 jobs.

Industrial leases included


• T&A Screw Machine Products took 65,014 square feet at 64 Avenue of Industry, creating 15 jobs.


• IMSWater Jet occupied 29,475 square feet at 562 Captain Neville Drive, creating seven jobs.


• Precision Dip Coating moved into 12,000 square feet at 176 Chase River Road, creating 12 jobs.


• Mountain Top Mushrooms expanded to 34,925 square feet in the Chase River Road Industrial Park at 200 Chase River Road.


• Unipharm Inc., leased 47,000 square feet in the Captain Neville Industrial Park at 75 Progress Lane, employing 23 people.


• Renewable Heat Products leased 36,975 square feet 55 Fulkerson Drive, creating five jobs.


• EEMax, the largest manufacturer of tankless water heaters in the U.S., took 36,000 square feet at 400 Captain Neville Drive, creating 30 jobs.



Investor Buys Essex Property

ESSEX –– Investor Amy Smith Sroka has purchased a 4,087-square-foot multi-tenanted building at 35 Main Street for $725,000. Kevin and Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the seller, Bible Hill Associates, LLC. Kathy Schellen of William Pitt Sotheby’s in Essex represented the buyer.


West Gate Fetches $12.5M

NEW HAVEN –– Eagle Rock Advisors, LLC has bought  West Gate Town Homes, a 135-unit town home community at 35 Cooper Place, for $12.5 million. Jeffrey Dunne and Christopher Leonard of CBRE's New York Institutional Group, Gene Pride, vice president of CBRE's Private Capital Group and Mike Stone of CBRE's Hartford office represented the seller, Westgate HH LLC, an entity controlled by Capmark Financial Group Inc. The buyer, a Manhattan-based investment firm, was unrepresented.


Pride said more than 100 investors were interested in the property, and the more than a dozen who submitted bids came from four states and two countries outside the U.S. 


Dixwell Ave. Bldg. Sold

NEW HAVEN –– Robert Rodriguez has purchased a 1,404-square-foot building at 304 Dixwell Avenue for $95,000. Harold Kent of Levy Miller Maretz was sole broker in the transaction. The seller was Yogi Patel.


Med Office Buildings Sold


NEW HAVEN — Two Whitney Avenue medical office buildings have been purchased for a total of approximately $35 million. An 82,000-square-foot building at 2200 Whitney Avenue was sold by Whitney Medical Limited Partnership and acquired by 2200 Real Estate. A 52,000-square-foot building at 2080 Whitney Avenue was sold by Twenty Eighty Limited Partnership and bought by 2080 Real Estate, LLC. Both buildings have been fully occupied for 15 years. Matthew Keefe of HK Group was sole broker in the deal. 



Group Buys Section 8 Apts.

NEW HAVEN — Berger Apartments, a Section 8 elderly multifamily property at 135 Derby Avenue, has been purchased for $11.2 million. Institutional Property Advisors (IPA) arranged the cash sale. Steve Witten, Victor Nolletti, Paul Davis and Andy Daitch represented the seller, Aimco, and the buyer, Steele Property Holding, LLC. Originally built in 1900 as the Berger Brothers Corset Factory, the property was converted to 123 one-bedroom and 21 two-bedroom apartments in 1981.


Third Time’s the Charm

ROCKY HILL –– Indetail, LLC of Norwalk has purchased a 15,000-square-foot shopping plaza at 396 Cromwell Avenue for $4.5 million. Dan Garofalo of Reno Properties Group brokered the sale, representing both Indetail and the seller, Cromwell Avenue Shops, LLC of Newington.

The $300-per-square-foot sales price “represents the high benchmark for retail investment property sales in Rocky Hill and surrounding towns," according to Reno Properties. The multi-tenant shopping center is fully leased to Connecticut Bank & Trust, Rocky Hill Eye Associates, Velocity Urgent Care and Asian Bistro restaurant.

“I’ve sold the property three times,” Garofalo said. “The first time was in 2006, when Arch Restaurant and Banquet Center bought it from Developers Realty Corp. for $1.27 million. The second time was in 2010, when Cromwell Avenue Shops purchased it for $2.5 million.”





 Branford Commercial Lease

BRANFORD — Husqvarna Construction Products has leased 6,500 square feet at 6 Sycamore Way for its new southern Connecticut services facility. Mark Duclos of Sentry Commercial represented the tenant. Robert Dow of Dow Realty represented the landlord, Gentile Development, LLC.


Hamden Plaza 100% Full

HAMDEN –– Hamden Plaza is fully occupied. Mark J. Brockwell, president of MJB Real Estate Services of Westport, the plaza’s exclusive agent and property manager, reported that Planet Fitness’ recent lease of 22,000 square feet completely filled the 260,000-square-foot plaza at 2100 Dixwell Avenue. MJB Vice President Dan Johnson was sole broker for the Planet Fitness lease as well as for other recent Hamden Plaza leases to Froyo World and Moe’s Southwest Restaurant.


Meriden Firm Expands

MERIDEN –– In a second expansion, Cable Management, LLC has leased 3,400 more square feet at Meriden Enterprise Center, 290 Pratt Street, for a total of 25,400 square feet at the location. Peter S. Shiue of Colliers International was sole broker in transaction. The landlord is 290 Pratt Street, LLC.


Energy Firm to State Street

NORTH HAVEN — Next Step Living has leased 4,500 square feet at 285 State Street. Mark Duclos of Sentry Commercial represented the tenant, a residential energy efficiencies and renewables company. Fred Petrella of Connecticut Realty Group represented the landlord, Elm City Industrial Properties.


Rocky Hill Lease

ROCKY HILL –– TRC Environmental Corp. has leased 3,348 square feet at 101 Corporate Place. Larry Levere of Sentry Commercial represented the landlord, CATIC Financial Inc. Shawn McMahon of Jones Lang LaSalle Americas represented the tenant.


Here Comes the Sun

NORTH HAVEN –– Apricus, a designer and manufacturer of solar hot water and hydronic heating products, has relocated its North American corporate headquarters from Branford to 370 State Street, a 36,000-square-foot multi-tenanted facility owned by the Hurley Group. Joel Nesson Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was the sole broker.


Occupying Wall Street

MADISON –– Madison Dental LLC has leased 2,000 square feet, the entire first floor of 90 Wall Street, part of the new Clarity Commons Project.  Rich Guralnick of H. Pearce Commercial was the sole broker in the transaction. The landlord is S&R Holdings, LLC.


 NEW HAVEN –– Nationwide, investment in nonresidential construction declined 4.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012, despite 2.2 percent annualized growth in the U.S. economy, according to the Marcum Commercial Construction Index, a new quarterly index tracking the performance of the U.S. commercial construction industry.

Year-over-year national nonresidential construction spending rose  just 2.6 percent in the third quarter, compared to more than 19 percent growth in residential construction.

During 2012, sectors relying mainly on state and government capital funding declined most in spending, including water supply, down 12.7 percent, conservation and development, down 6.5 percent, education, down 3.2 percent and highway and street, down 2.2 percent.

Rapidly recovering sectors were lodging, up 25 percent, power, up 19.2 percent and transportation, up 11 percent.

In his report, Anirban Basu, chief construction economist for Marcum, a major accounting and advisory firm, attributed the slow recovery in nonresidential construction to tight credit, high vacancy rates and cautious investors, among other factors. He says the second half of 2013 could be “surprisingly good” for nonresidential construction if the White House and Congress manage not to tumble off the fiscal cliff, because of the large number of projects placed on hold during 2012.



Wareck D’Ostilio Opens in Milford

MILFORD –– Real Living Wareck D’Ostilio Real Estate has opened a second office at 174 Cherry Street.

“This move puts us closer to many of our existing customers and prospective clients in the Orange, Milford and upper Fairfield County,” co-owner/managing broker John Wareck said. “We anticipate the hiring of more agents to fill both offices and to accommodate clients as the company continues its record growth.”


Colonial’s Messore Earns GRI

ORANGE — Fred A. Messore, a Realtor with Colonial Properties, has earned the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation, after completing at least 90 hours of classroom instruction in contract law, ethics, sales and marketing, finance, environment and health issues, technology and dispute resolutions and other topics.


PruCT Wins 2 HOBIs

WALLINGFORD — Prudential Connecticut Realty’s New Homes and Land Division has received two 2012 Home Building Industry (HOBI) Awards from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association (HBRA) of Connecticut.


Terence Beaty, Director of the New Homes & Land Division and Lynn Rival, senior graphic designer, won Best Community Sales Brochure and Best Community Website for the Sonoma Woods development. 


Spirit of the Season

Employees in the Guilford and Clinton offices of H. Pearce Co. raised $200 for the Guilford Food Bank during their annual Coco Café event on November 30. The employees served cookies and peppermint sticks to the crowd at the Guilford Tree Lighting ceremony.





Dixwell Ave. Commercial Bldg.

HAMDEN –– Andrew and Anthony Civitello have purchased a 3,700-square-foot building at 2839 Dixwell Avenue for $320,000, to house the corporate offices of their two businesses. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo Realtors represented the buyers. Kevin and Kristin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors, represented the seller, the Charlotte A. Perry Marital Trust.


Middlesex Hospital Expands

MIDDLETOWN –– Middlesex Hospital has purchased two buildings at 117-121 Main Street Extension for $1.6 million. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, represented the seller, the Carmelo J. Marino Trust. Coughlin Companies Management Services Inc. represented the hospital.


Liquor Store No More

MIDDLETOWN — A 4,336-square-foot building on 0.53 acres at 350 Main Street has been sold for $525,000. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, represented the buyer, 350 Main Street Middletown, LLC and the seller, Joseph Savatore. The city of Middletown purchased Salvatore’s liquor license for $60,000 to prohibit the property’s future use as a liquor store.


Office/Warehouse Sold

OXFORD –– Local investment group 207 Oxford LLC has paid $360,000 for a 5,600-square-foot office and warehouse building on 1.7 acres at 207 Christian Street. Ed Godin Jr. of Matthews Commercial Properties represented the buyer. Bill Weirsman of Colonial Properties represented the seller, A&D Services.


M-Town Office Bldg. Bought

MIDDLETOWN — Edna Giardina Russo has purchased a 1,600-square-foot office building at 573 Newfield Street for $260,000 from 573 Newfield Street, LLC. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC represented the seller. Pam Rizy of Prudential Connecticut Realty represented the buyer.


Buying on Broad Street

MIDDLETOWN — Malik Mohammad has purchased 24 Broad Street for $157,500 from Melissa A. Didato. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, represented both buyer and seller.


Research Park Fetches $3.8M

NORTH HAVEN –– The Phoenix Research Park at 408-410 Sackett Point Road has been sold for $3.8 million. Joel Nesson of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services was the sole broker, representing the buyer, SK PT LLC, and the seller, Lake A LLC. Set on 14 acres, the park contains five lab and industrial buildings totaling 104,000 square feet.


No. Haven Complex Sold

NORTH HAVEN — ADM Ventures, LLC has purchased 375 Washington Avenue, a two-building complex on 2.36 acres for $1,575,000.


One building is a 17,600-square-foot industrial/warehouse/office facility with a 4,800-square-foot office; the other is a free-standing, 3,000-square-foot masonry building. Stephen Press of Press/Cuozzo Commercial Services represented the seller, 375 Washington Avenue Associates, LLC. Press/Cuozzo’s Joel Nesson represented the buyer. Peoples Medical/Peoples Pharmacy Express, which provides  respiratory and home medical equipment, will relocate its administrative offices, pharmacy and showroom to the complex.




Major Murtha Park Lease

BEACON FALLS — Utz Quality Foods Inc. has signed a ten-year leased for 19,200 square feet in Building 4D located in Murtha Industrial Park on Railroad Avenue for a distribution center. Gerry D. Matthews of Matthews Commercials Properties represented Utz. Sean Duffy and Tim D’adabo Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord, Murtha Industrial Four, LLC. 

Branford Office Condo Let

BRANFORD –– CPa Medical Billing, LLC, has  leased a 1,094-square-foot office condo at 420 East Main Street. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors represented the tenant. His colleague Kevin Geenty represented the landlord, Captiva, LLC.


Green Makes the Scene

MERIDEN –– Green Beacon Solutions has leased 1,347 square feet of Class A office space at 321 Research Parkway. Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the tenant. David Barnes and Jennifer Gosselin of CB Richard Ellis represented the landlord, WE Research Parkway, LLC.


Corporate Center Lease        

MIDDLETOWN — Omega Flex Inc. has leased 3,719 square feet on the seventh floor at Middlesex Corporate Center, 213 Court Street. Tom Ford of Midfield Corp. represented the landlord, Midfield Associates. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate LLC, represented the tenant. 


Office Bldg. Gets Schooled

MIDDLETOWN — The Middletown Public Schools district has leased 1,026 feet in a retail and office building at 670 Newfield Street. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, was the sole broker in the deal, representing the tenant and the landlord, Ottavio and Letizia Monarca.


New Biz for Biz Park

MIDDLETOWN — Middletown Business Park, 430-460 Smith Street has several new tenants. APEX Lighting Solutions has leased 6,362 square feet; Universal-Bach Transportation Services Inc. leased 583 square feet; Sabrina Cameron, MSW leased 393 square feet and Embedded Systems leased 362 square feet. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate LLC, represented the tenants and the landlord, BostonMiddletown, LLC.


New Hope for Change

MIDDLETOWN — Change Inc. has leased 1,118 at 98 Washington Street. Trevor Davis of Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate, LLC, was sole broker in the transaction, representing the tenant and landlord, RAMO, LLC.


Gallery/Studio for Chapel St.

NEW HAVEN –– John Flynn and Josh Kelley have leased 4,000 square feet at 433 Chapel Street for a music studio, offices and gallery space. The Geenty Group was sole broker in the deal. The landlord is Peter Chapman of La Saraghina. 


Oxford Industrial Lease

OXFORD –– Triem Industries has leased 10,500 square feet at 6 Benson Road. Ed Godin was the sole broker. The landlord is Glen More LLC.


Apt. Building Fetches $1.2M

NEW HAVEN — A 12-unit apartment building at 2 Lyon Street has sold for $1.2 million. Brad Balletto of Northeast Private Client Group represented the buyer, Bright Stone Realty, and the seller, Petack Bepaz LLC of Great Neck, N.Y. 


MD Invests in Newtown

NEWTOWN –– Family physician Alex Afshar, MD has bought two buildings on 1.84 acres at 33 Church Hill Road for $1.5 million. He plans to open a medical care facility in one building and lease the other one. Jon Angel of Angel Commercial brokered the sale of the foreclosed property for Customer Bank. Atherton & Associates commercial property represented the doctor.


A Taste of Italy

OXFORD –- Newtown investor Walter Schnieder has acquired a 6,800-square-foot industrial condo at 91 Willenbrock Road for $345,000 and leased it to the U.S. office of Italy-based Villa Radiology Systems. Ed Godin Jr. of Matthews Commercial Properties was the sole broker. The seller was Trident Properties IV.




Fieldstone Village Cited

ORANGE –– Fieldstone Village has won the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Connecticut’s HOBI award for “Best New Haven County 55 + Community.” Free-standing homes in the active-lifestyle complex feature energy-efficient elements and range from 1,450 to 3,000 square feet, with prices starting at $369,900. All exterior maintenance is included.

The award will be presented on November 14 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.


Pearce Hosts Coat Drive

GUILFORD –– H. Pearce Co., Realtors Shoreline regional offices are seeking jackets and coats in good condition for their 23rd annual coat drive. Donations can be dropped off in Guilford between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and in Branford or Clinton between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The deadline for donations is November 30.





Industrial Building Sold

BEACON FALLS –– KOLGA Land, LLC has paid $1.125 million for a 20,000-square-foot industrial building situated on more than five acres at 65 Lancaster Drive. The R. Calabrese Agency was sole broker in the deal. The seller was 65 Lancaster, LLC.

 BEACON FALLS  ­­–– Thirty-nine undeveloped parcels in the 99-unit Pond Spring Village active adult community at 135 Pond View Circle have been sold for $1,125,000. Independent broker Sam Berkowtz represented the buyer, Pond Spring Village, LLC. Ralph L. Calabrese of the R. Calabrese Agency represented the seller, 135 Pond Spring Village, LLC. In addition to one fully completed model, there are six partially completed units, six foundations and 26 approved building lots. The duplex units range from 1,296 square feet to 1,304 square feet.


NY Group Buys in Wooster Sq.

NEW HAVEN –– Bright Stone Realty has purchased a 12-unit apartment building at 2 Lyon Street in the Wooster Square neighborhood for $1.2 million, or $102 per square foot. Bradley Balletto, Northeast Private Client Group’s regional manager for southern Connecticut, represented both buyer and seller, Petack Bepaz, LLC of Great Neck, N.Y.


“High occupancy and growing rents in New Haven are driving strong demand for multifamily properties,” Balletto said in a statement. “In today’s still uncertain financial market conditions, income-producing real estate is still the best vehicle for generating and preserving wealth.”


Chef’s Equipment to Orange

ORANGE –– CEE Orange, LLC has acquired a 13,660-square-foot building on 0.97 acres at 449 Boston Post Road for $1,450,0000 for a Chef’s Equipment store. Fred A. Messore of Colonial Properties was the sole broker, representing the buyer and seller, Niko Realty, LLC.


$65M Rocky Hill Office Deal

ROCKY HILL –– KS Partners, a New-York based real estate investment and development company, has paid $65 million for New Boston Fund’s eight-building, 620,000-square-foot Rocky Hill office portfolio, making it the largest such transaction since the portfolio first traded in 2000.


The portfolio has two office complexes; Corporate Ridge, with three Class A office buildings, 500 Enterprise, 55 Capital Boulevard and 175 Capital Boulevard; and five single story buildings with office and flex space at I-91 Tech Center, 795-805 Brooker Street.


John McCormick, Patrick Mulready and Michael Puzzo of the Hartford Office Leasing and Investment Properties Team at CBRE/NE represented New Boston and procured the buyer. KS Partners was unrepresented.


At the time of the sale, the portfolio was 87-percent leased with tenants including AT&T, United Healthcare, Verizon Liberty Mutual and the American Cancer Society.


Lodging Group Eyes Southington

SOUTHINGTON –– Briad Lodging Group has purchased 5.75 acres of vacant commercial property at 1096 West Street for $1.2 million. The R. Calabrese Agency was sole broker in the deal, representing both the buyer and the seller, Westcorp, LLC, which has retained the agency to market a one-acre pad site remaining on the property for ground lease or for lease as build-to-suit.


RHP Bets on Brass City

WATERBURY –– Renewable Heat Products has purchased a 36,000-square-foot, single-story industrial building on more than five acres at 55 Fulkerson Drive. Ralph Calabrese of the R. Calabrese Agency represented the seller, T. Sendzimir Inc. Sean McDonald of Cushman & Wakefield represented the buyer.





Branford Office Condo Leased

BRANFORD –– CPa Medical Billing, LLC, has leased a 1,094-square-foot condo unit at 420 East Main Street in the Thimble Creek Condominium complex. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors, represented the tenant. Kevin Geenty represented the landlord, Captiva, LLC.


Leasing in Lakeview Center

BRANFORD –– See Us Grow has leased 11,200 square feet in Lakeview Center, 249 West Main Street. OR&L Commercial’s Richard Gold and Phil Marshall represented the landlord, Lakeview Center Associates. The tenant was unrepresented.


Law Firm Doubles Down

BRANFORD –– The law firm of Parks & Pearson has doubled its space to occupy 1,500 square feet — the entire first floor — at 765 East Main Street. The law firm specializes in real estate law and real estate closings. Kevin Geenty of the Geenty Group, Realtors, was sole agent in the transaction, representing the attorneys and the landlord, Captiva LLC


Shoe Fits in Branford

BRANFORD ­­ –– New England Orthotic & Prosthetic System has leased 3,0000 square feet at 965 West Main Street. Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, 965 West Main Street, LLC. The tenant was unrepresented.


Going for the Gold

BRANFORD –– Coastal Gold Exchange & Gifts, LLC, has leased 857 square feet at 71 West Main Street. The landlord is 71 West Main, LLC. Bill Clark of the Geenty Group, Realtors, was the sole broker.


Church Finds Hamden Home

HAMDEN –– Iglesia Jehovah Mi Roca has leased an 8,247-square-foot building at 182 Welton Street. Bob Adnopoz of Colliers International was the sole broker, representing both the church and the landlord Barone Investments LLC.


Aeroteck Picks Hamden Ctr. II

HAMDEN –– Aeroteck Inc. has leased 5,051 square feet at Hamden Center II, 2321 Dixwell Avenue. Albert Scafati of Press Cuozzo, the exclusive broker for the Class A office property, represented the owner, Hamden Realty Associates, LP. Robert Adnopoz of Colliers International represented the tenant. 


Food for Thought

HAMDEN –– Nutmeg State Nutrition has expanded into 1,897 square feet at 2460 Dixwell Avenue. The Proto Group, LLC was the sole broker. The landlord is 460 Dixwell Avenue LLC.


Occupying Wall Street

MADISON –– The Stifel, Nicolaus Co. Inc. has leased 2,585 square feet at 64 Wall Street. Jay Stewart of Cushman & Wakefield represented the tenant. Frank Hird of OR&L Commercial represented the landlord, Overshore Associates.


Leasing 5K for 5 Years

NEW HAVEN –– Jeffrey A. Kaslowitz of Greenwich Fleet Leasing, LLC, and Albert Lomoriello of Eastern Region Re-Marketing Services, LLC, d/b/a Automotive Co-Op, have signed a five-year lease for 5,000 square feet at 345-355 Forbes Avenue.   Barry Stratton of the Geenty Group, Realtors, was the sole broker.


The landlord is John LaViola.


Industrial Supplier Leases

ROCKY HILL –– MSC Industrial Supply Co. has leased 8,704 square feet at 50 Inwood Road. Keith Kumnick of Colliers International represented the tenant. Dave Barnes and Jen Gosselin of CBRE represented the landlord, WE 50 Inwood LLC.


Baking a Bigger Pie

WATERBURY — Little Caesar's Pizza Take Out has leased 2,090 square feet at the Colonial Plaza Shopping Center, 111 Thomaston Avenue. Gloria McMann of Merrigan & LeFebvre Realty represented the tenant. Matt Halprin of New England Retail Properties represented the landlord, Stop & Shop Supermarkets Inc.


Thank Heaven in Waterbury

WATERBURY –– 7-Eleven has signed a long-term lease to occupy 2,296 square feet at 1051 Wolcott Street. The lease value is in excess of $500,000. Tom Hill represented the landlord, Kenneth B. Warner Jr. Associates LLP. The Proto Group exclusively represents 7-Eleven throughout Connecticut.


 Statewide sales prices hit 10-year nadir


As single-family homes prices in Connecticut reached their lowest level in a decade, sales increased again in September. So says the latest report by the Boston-based Warren Group.

All told 1,900 single-family homes changed hands in Connecticut in September, a 4.5-percent increase from the 1,817 sales recorded in September 2011. Sales also increased for the third quarter, rising to 7,266 from 6,188 during the same period in 2011. Year-to-date sales are up 13.1 percent at 18,300, compared to 16,180 during the same period a year ago.

That increase is fueled by falling prices. In September the median sales price of single-family homes statewide fell 7.2 percent to $230,000, down from $248,000 a year earlier. Third-quarter median prices declined 1.6 percent to $250,750 from $255,000 in the same period of 2011, while year-to-date prices fell 4.0 from $250,000 in 2011 to $240,000 this year.

A similar trend is evident in the residential condominium market. In September condo sales rose more than seven percent from a year earlier — to 503 from 470. For the third quarter the rise was even more dramatic: up 12.6 percent to 1,760 from 1,562 a year earlier

Median condo prices in September fell 9.3 percent, to $157,000 from $173,089 in September 2011. Third-quarter median prices are down 9.8 percent, decreasing to $160,000 from $177,450 in the prior year. The year-to-date median price of condos in Connecticut is $160,000, down 8.5 percent from $175,000 a year ago.

“Home sales have increased every month in 2012, a strong sign that the housing market is recovering,” said Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. “This suggests that consumers have regained some confidence in the economy, and are making home purchases with more enthusiasm.

"The drop in prices is concerning, but it's typical to see sales volume increase before prices do in a recovery period,” he added.

 CBRE is looking for good ideas to improve sustainable practices for commercial buildings. The global commercial real estate services company has launched a Real Green Research Challenge, which will award as much as $1 million over the next four years for independent academic research in areas such as productivity studies proving the benefits of sustainable building occupancy and best practices or systems software to reduce operating costs or enhance revenue through recycling. As many as 15 qualifying submissions will receive initial funding of up to $15,000 in February 2013, and be eligible for additional funding of up to $250,000. Winners will collaborate with CBRE.

Abstracts of research proposals are due by December 31 at cbre.com/rgrc.

 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has acquired the assets of three Richter Real Estate offices in Stratford, Fairfield and Trumbull. The offices, doing business as Century 21 HomeServices Richter Real Estate, will merge into Coldwell offices in Fairfield and Trumbull, and Richter owners Paul Richter and Robert Richter will join Coldwell.

 OLD SAYBROOK –– RE/MAX Valley Shore and Genovali Realty have joined forces.

Principals David and Lisa Genovali bring more than 30 years of experience in residential and commercial sales, new construction and land development to the new company, which will employ 24 brokers. RE/MAX broker/owners Lorrie and Craig Milton have worked in residential real estate for more than a decade.