Author Archives: Kenneth R. Gosselin

Venerable Hartford Club Vows To Remain Afloat

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The Hartford Club, which is facing foreclosure on its Prospect Street headquarters, issued this statement today:

“The members of the Hartford Club are committed to preserving it as a vital institution in the heart of the new Hartford. A committee of members with marketing and communications expertise is preparing a comprehensive campaign designed to address the club’s immediate financial issues and secure it long-term future. The details of the plan will be announced within the next few weeks — Brien Beakey, president, Hartford Club Board of Governors.

Read my story from Tuesday’s Courant on the club’s financial troubles.

New Home Listings In Hartford May Bode Well For Spring Market

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Home sales in greater Hartford fell in March and the median sale price was flat, but new listings jumped more than 10 percent as the spring home buying season got underway, a new report today shows.

The Greater Hartford Association of Realtors said sales of single-family houses dipped 5 percent in March, to 627, from 660 a year earlier in the 57-town area it covers, stretching from Enfield south to Middletown.

The median sale price, where half the sales are above, half below, was flat at $198,000.

The real estate industry is hoping to build on gains registered in 2013, the second year in a row of double-digit gains and a stabilization in prices. January came out strong, but sales have trailed off since, declining in March on a year-over-year basis.

A slow start to the year isn’t unusual because sales closing in March reflect properties that went under contract in the previous 60-90 days. In Connecticut, winter traditionally is a slower time for home sales.

Jeff Arakelian, the association’s president and chief executive, said the jump in new listings show a confidence among sellers that buyers can be matched to their properties.

Real estate agents have expressed concern about the low inventory of houses on the market. Few choices can prompt buyers to lose interest and stop looking.

The uptick in new listings come as the spring home buying season begins, typically the busiest of the year and now, a barometer for progress in the recovery from the recent housing recession.

The inventory of single-family houses on the market rose by 6.6 percent in March, to 6,103 from 5,727 a year earlier, the association said. Based on sales in March, the area has roughly a 10-month supply of homes for sale, firmly in a buyer’s market. The market is said to favor neither buyer nor seller when there is a six-month supply.

The buyer’s upper hand could be whittled away if sales pick up this spring.

 

Copper Heiress’ Estate In New Canaan Sells For $14.3 Million

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The French-style New Canaan estate that was never occupied by a reclusive heiress has been sold, after being on the market for nine years, the real estate agent who had the listing confirmed.

The 52-acre estate, known as Le Beau Chateau, with a 9-bedroom, 8-bathroom mansion sold for $14.3 million, according to Barbara Cleary, of Barbara Cleary’s Realty Guild in New Canaan.

See photos of Le Beau Chateau and other estates owned by Clark, who died in 2011 at the age of 104.

The identity of the buyer was not immediately available. But the New Canaan News reported the buyer was DeLom LLC.

The paper, on its web site, said the identity of the buyers are fashion designer Reed Krakoff and his wife. Krakoff is a former executive of Coach, citing NBC New investigative reporter Bill Dedman who wrote a 2013 book about Clark.

The estate, most recently listed at $15.9 million, was purchased in 1951 by Huguette Clark, the eccentric heiress to the fortune made by her father in the copper mining business and other venture. Clark bought the estate as a getaway, but never she never moved into it.

 

Hartford Club’s Home May Be Sold In Foreclosure Auction

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Foreclosure Sales Date:

The Hartford Club, once the gathering place for city’s elite and decision makers, faces the loss of its longtime home on Prospect Street in a foreclosure auction, court documents show.

The Hartford Club could lose its home to a forelcosure sale. Credit: John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons

The Hartford Club on Prospect Street in downtown Hartford could lose its home to a foreclosure sale. Credit: John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons

The club, founded in 1873, filed an appeal Friday of a Hartford Superior Court judge’s order, issued in January, ordering the property at 46 Prospect Street, the club’s home since 1904. be sold in a foreclosure auction. The auction is scheduled for June 28, court record show.

The foreclosure was first filed last June. The property has $1.4 million in mortgage debt, but the foreclosure deals with a $997,000 mortgage approved in 2009 by the former Connecticut Bank and Trust Co., which was acquired by Berkshire Bank in 2012.

Court documents show that a payment on the mortgage had not been made since October, 2012.

John Larson, an attorney for The Hartford Club, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment this morning.

Brien Beakey, president of the club’s board of governors, did not immediately respond to a call.

Greenwich’s Copper Beech Farm Sold For $120 Million

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Greenwich’s Copper Beech Farm, listed last year with the highest asking price of any home in the country, has sold for $120 million, town officials confirmed.

Copper Beech Farm, a Greenwich estate, has the highest asking price in the country. (Courtesy of Zillow.com)

Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich has sold for $120 million. (Courtesy of Zillow.com)

The estate and its 13,500-square-foot main house with 12 bedrooms and nine bathrooms hit the market last year with the highest-ever listing price of $190 million, but was slashed to $140 million four months later.

The buyer was Conservation Institute LLC, with an address of 1 Atlantic St. in Stamford, town officials said.

The 50-acre estate off Indian Field Road has 4,000 feet of frontage on Long Island Sound and access to two private islands.

A 30-acre parcel that doesn’t include the Victorian-style mansion could to be subdivided into as many as 15 lots. The development potential, in large part, drove the high asking price.

Listing agent David Ogilvy, of David Oglivy & Associates could not immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.

The estate was built by the Lauder Greenway family, which had ties to Carnegie Steel. Its owners John and Laurie Rudey bought it 31 years ago, according to online records.

 

 

Investors Purchase Former Enfield Hallmark Card Warehouse

by Categorized: Commercial Transactions Date:

As Hallmark Cards consolidates its distribution centers in Enfield, one of its former locations has been sold for $3.5 million, brokers involved in the sale said.

The 235,000-square-foot warehouse at 35 Manning Road has been purchased by Enfield Distribution Center LLC, which plans to renovate the now vacant building and market it for new tenants, according to Nicholas Morizio, a broker at Colliers International in Hartford, which represented both the buyer and the seller.

The new owners of the former Hallmark Card warehouse plan renovations to attract tenants. Photo Courtesy of Colliers International, Hartford.

The new owners of the former Hallmark Card warehouse in Enfield plan renovations to attract tenants. Photo Courtesy of Colliers International, Hartford.

State business records show the local partner of Enfield Distribution Center LLC is Michael F. DiScala, principal in Norwalk-based M.F. DiScala & Co., a commercial real estate investment company.

Hallmark leased the space on Manning Road and vacated it at the beginning of this month, Morizio told me.

Morizio said Hallmark is consolidating its distribution operations at a newer warehouse on Bacon Road.

 

Connecticut Home Sales Push Up Prices In February

by Categorized: Residential Real Estate Reports Date:

This is an updated version of a previous post from this morning.

Single-family house sales in Connecticut posted a modest increase in February, making a string of ten consecutive monthly increases, a new report today shows.

The median sale price — where half the sales are above, half below — in February rose 4.4 percent, to $235,000, from $225,000, for the same month a year ago, according to the monthly report from The Warren Group, which tracks housing trends in New England.

“We see many signs of a healthy market in Connecticut,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of The Warren Group. “We are in the third year of a recovery from the crash in real estate and financial markets. People are interested in real estate once again.”

There were 1,177 single-family houses sold in February, compared with 1,145 for the same month a year ago, Warren reported.

With the spring home buying market now underway, some real estate agents are hoping more homeowners who have wanted to sell will make that decision. That will help increase the selection, now at low levels, for house hunters and keep interest high among buyers.

Mortgage rates also remain a historically low levels. Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, said today 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.34 percent, with an average 0.7 point this week, down from 4.41 percent a week ago.

In Hartford County, sales in February rose 1 percent, to 299, from 296 a year ago. The median sale price jumped 9.2 percent, to $210,000, from $192,250 in the same period.

Among the state’s eight counties, February’s sales and median prices were mixed, however, according to Warren Group.

Four counties — Middlesex, New London, Tolland and Windham, said double-digit percentage gains, but the increases were generally on modest number of additional sales. Tolland County, for instance, saw a 33.3 percent increase in sales, but the actual number went from just 48 to 64.

Three counties — Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven — saw sales decline in February, on a year-over-year basis.

Median sale prices rose in five counties, with Middlesex leading the way, registering an 11.7 percent increase.

With small number of sales, experts caution against reading too much into gains in median sale prices. The median can be heavily influenced by the mix of houses sold when the sales volume is low.

Some sellers also may not share in overall gains. Properties can still languish on the market, and sellers may be forced to cut asking prices.

 

 

 

 

Former East Windsor Banquet Hall Again For Sale

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A previous version of this post incorrectly stated industrial development would not be allowed on the former La Renaissance site.

The former La Renaissance Banquet & Conference Center in East Windsor is again on the market, listed at $2.8 million by the bank that took ownership in a foreclosure.

The 27,500-square-foot hall is on about 8 acres just off I-91 was listed Monday — and will be marketed for redevelopment, with the strongest possibility being retail, said Thomas Wilks, an agent at Century 21 Clemens & Sons Realty, who has the listing.

The former La Renaissance Banquet and Conference Center is up for sale again. Photo by Garret Alison/FoxCT

The former La Renaissance Banquet and Conference Center is up for sale again. Photo by Garret Alison/FoxCT

“We believe the highest and best use is taking down the building and redeveloping the property,” Wilks told me.

Retail development would benefit from the visibility from the highway, Wilkes said, but mixed-use with apartments over retail is another possibility. Industrial uses are not permitted in the area by the town, he said.

People’s United Bank, which held the mortgage on the property, bid $1.7 million in a foreclosure auction last year. Even though it held the mortgage, People’s United was forced to bid because a judge had ordered a sale by foreclosure. There were no other bidders.

The previous owners, Dharamshi LLC, had tried to sell the property in the months before the auction but were unsuccessful.

Dharamshi paid $5.1 million for the property 2007. According to court documents, it fell into foreclosure in 2012. The venue closed in 2013.

La Renaissance had hosted thousands of events since it opened in the 1970s. Photo by Garett Allison/FoxCT

La Renaissance had hosted thousands of events since it opened in the 1970s. Photo by Garett Allison/FoxCT

The most recent asking price for the property was $3.97 million. An appraisal in late 2012 by People’s United pegged the value at $3.3 million.

Wilkes told me the current asking price was not based on the previous appraisal, which he said was no longer valid. The new price factors in the cost of having to tear down the hall and conference center, Wilks said.

 

Episcopal Church Moving Into New Connecticut Headquarters

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The Episcopal Church in Connecticut has a new headquarters, about 20 minutes south of Hartford where it has been based for more than a century.

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut is moving into new headquarters in Meriden. Photo Courtesy of Colliers International.

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut is moving into new headquarters in Meriden. Photo Courtesy of Colliers International.

The church offices will move next week into the third floor of the Meriden Enterprise Center at 290 Pratt St., once a location of the New Departure ball bearing company.

The 11,200-square-foot space has high ceilings reminiscent of a cathedral, the church says, and will include space for a chapel.

The diocese is taking stained-glass panels from its current headquarters in a three-story mansion at 1335 Asylum St. in Hartford to its new Meriden quarters. The panels will be reconfigured for room dividers, Karin Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the diocese, told me today.

The church chose Meriden for its central location in the state, after plans to make improvements at its Hartford headquarters met with resistance from the city.

Bishop Ian Douglas described the Meriden site as “a new departure for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut” and “an opportunity to bring members of parishes from every corner of the state together with the staff and for conference rooms, archival materials, and a media studio.”

The space in Meriden will offer more traditional office space compared to its current headquarters in Hartford, where it has been based since the 1950s.

The Jacobethan Revival-style mansion, donated to the church, is now under contract to a buyer, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed. The buyer intends to return the 25-room mansion to use as a single-family home, according to Paula Fahy Ostop, an agent at William Raveis in West Hartford, who has the listing.

Episcopal Church in Connecticut's headquarters in Hartford's West End. Photo by Richard Messina/rmessina@courant.com

Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s headquarters in Hartford’s West End. Photo by Richard Messina/rmessina@courant.com

The purchase price also has not been disclosed, but the property was listed at $749,900 in 2012.

Ostop told me the sale has not yet closed.

Colliers International represented the landlord, 290 Pratt Street, LLC, and Goman + York Property Advisors Inc., the tenant.

 

California Investor Acquires Stakes In High-Profile New Haven Buildings

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A California real estate investment trust has taken a majority stake in two New Haven properties, including the one where the new headquarters of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is now under construction.

BioMed Realty Trust Inc. is investing $308 million to acquire ownership stakes in 300 George St. and 100 College Street, a transaction that provides for a minority interest for current owner and developer Winstanley Enterprises LLC.

Rendering of the office building now under construction at 100 College St., New Haven, the first structure in Downtown Crossing. Courtesy of Winstanley Enterprises LLC.

Rendering of the office building now under construction at 100 College St., New Haven, the first structure in Downtown Crossing. Courtesy of Winstanley Enterprises LLC.

The buildings are BioMed’s first investments in Connecticut.

The nine-story, 519,000-square foot building at 300 George St. is leased to Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital for laboratory and office space.

The Alexion headquarters, which broke ground in June, is anchoring New Haven’s “Downtown Crossing” redevelopment. It is expected to encompass 14 stories and 508,000 square feet of laboratory and office space.

About $100 million of BioMed’s investment will go to financing the construction at 100 College St., a BioMed spokesman told me.

Alexion could qualify for a $51 million package of state incentives if the pharmaceutical company expands its workforce in the city.

BioMed, founded in 2004, focuses on real estate investments in the life science industry. BioMed has 17 million square feet of space in its portfolio, having invested over $6 billion.