New residential construction in Connecticut was the strongest in four years in 2012, with the most robust building activity reported in Fairfield County, a new report today shows.
Permits issued by all towns and cities last year for single-family houses, condominiums and apartment units soared 47 percent, to 4,669, from a decades-low of 3,173 in 2011, according to the annual survey by the U.S. Census released by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
See what building took place last year in your town or city here.
“We’re making slow, but positive momentum in the labor markets, and the same can be said for housing,” Donald L. Klepper-Smith, an economist at DataCore Partners in New Haven, told me today.
Klepper-Smith said the jump in residential construction last year was encouraging. But he noted new home building was extremely weak in 2011, and it may take years to reach the 8,000 to 10,000 new units a year that is considered to be a healthy home construction market.
“We still have a ways to go,” Klepper-Smith said.
UPDATE: James Carter, who is leading the partnership that purchased this property, emailed me late Thursday with this comment: “We are excited to invest in this great legacy property and hope to revitalize it as one of the unique retail properties in Avon.”
Avon Village Marketplace in Avon — known for its gigantic rocking chair — has been sold to a partnership of local businessmen for $4.5 million, according to town records.
Avon Village Associates LLC, led by James S. Carter of Carter Realty, purchased the six-acre, 60,000-square-foot retail and office complex on the corner of Route 44 and Route 10 from the August family. The Augusts had owned the property for four decades.
The complex, long known as Old Avon Village, was renamed last year on its 40th anniversary.
Carter did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment today.
But in a statement contained in a newsletter from broker RM Bradley, Carter said: “Avon Village Associates is very excited about this opportunity to own such an iconic property in Avon and look forward to sustaining and expanding its tenant base over the next year.”
RM Bradley was the sole broker in the transaction.
No word on what’s to become of the rocking chair.
The Capitol Region Education Council, the largest tenant at Hartford’s Colt Gateway, is getting even bigger — expanding into yet another building in the former gun manufacturing complex.
CREC is redeveloping a former office building at the corner of Sequassen Street and Van Dyke Avenue into a high school magnet that will eventually bring as many as 750 students to the area, CREC’s chief operating officer Sandy Cruz-Serrano told me today.
The $5 million to $6 million project is expected to be ready for students this fall, Cruz-Serrano said.
“We’re thrilled that the Colt Gateway folks have allowed us to use that facility, Cruz-Serrano said.
CREC is paying for the top-to-bottom renovation with state funding and will lease the space from Colt Gateway.
With the addition of the building, CREC will occupy about 200,000 square feet, or a nearly a third of the 630,000-square-foot complex, known for its iconic, blue onion-shape dome.
When this latest redevelopment is complete, CREC will lease space in six of the complex’s 10 buildings. The programs include a school for children diagnosed with autism and a performing arts academy.
Larry Dooley, of CG Management, which took over as developer of the complex in 2010, said it remains the plan to sign a variety of tenants for the commercial space in the complex as it redeveloped.
“And CREC understands that,” Dooley told me.
CREC does hope to occupy some space in the East Armory, once it is renovated, to expand its performing arts program, Cruz-Serrano said.
Cruz-Serrano told me that the high school will provide the secondary grades for the Two Rivers Middle Magnet School across the river. The expansion grew out of the requirements of the landmark, school desegregation Sheff v. O’Neill case, Cruz-Serrano said.
CREC had tested out a ninth grade program last year in space in the South Armory and found strong interest, attracting 100 students.
The redevelopment will incorporate highly-wired “super labs” catering to such course of studies as aeronautic engineering, robotics and environmental science, Cruz-Serrano said.
The 45,000-square-foot, 3-story building was constructed in 1942 and once served as the headquarters office for Colt.
Last year, the Corporation for Independent Living considered buying the building but later abandoned those plans.
Just north of the domed East Armory, the building — known simply as the U-Shaped Building after its shape – has been vacant for years and its condition has steadily worsened, Dooley said.
Dooley said the exterior — including windows — are being restored in keeping with state historic standards.
The owners of the former La Renaissance Banquet & Conference Center in East Windsor are in negotiations with one potential purchaser after buying more time on a looming foreclosure auction.
“There has been a moderate amount of showings,” Martin Levitz, a broker at Chozick Realty in Hartford, which has the listing, told me today. “People are definitely interested in buying the property. We are actively negotiating with one buyer.”
Levitz declined to name the potential buyer, citing the on-going negotiations.
Two weeks ago, a Superior Court judge in Hartford extended the auction date from Saturday to July 20 after owner Dharamschi LLC argued that there was “active interest” in the property, according to court documents. Dharamschi principal Atulkumar S. Vachhani listed the 27,500-square-foot hall on eight acres off Prospect Hill Road for sale about a month before a scheduled April 27 foreclosure auction.
People’s United Bank, which has sought the foreclosure, fought the extension, arguing that a sale wasn’t imminent because Dharamschi couldn’t produce either term sheets or a purchase contract, court documents show.
Court documents show Dharamshi paid $5.1 million for the property at 53-59 Prospect Hill in 2007. It fell into foreclosure in June 2012, the documents show.
The asking price for the property is $3.97 million. An appraisal by the bank last fall pegged the value at $3.3 million.
Bruce Maneeley, owner of Maneeley Banquet & Conference Center in South Windsor, expressed interest in purchasing La Renaissance last month. He couldn’t be reached for comment today.
Peter Ressler, a New Haven lawyer representing Dharamschi, also couldn’t be reached.
Connecticut’s housing market is showing early signs of being on the upswing, and the U.S. Census Bureau wants to know more about the kinds of dwellings in the market.
The bureau is contacting selected homeowners throughout the Hartford Metropolitan Area for its latest American Housing Survey. Data collected from the survey provides updated information on the size and composition in the Hartford MSA and others throughout the country.
Some of the questions include number of rooms, heating and cooling equipment and costs of housing.
A release from the Census Bureau says:
“Information from the survey helps to measure the changes in our housing supply resulting from losses and new construction. It measures the structural makeup of the housing and characteristics of the occupants. The information also helps to evaluate the effects of the proposals on tax reform and assistance programs.”
The Hartford MSA includes six of the eight counties in Connecticut: Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New London, Tolland and Windham counties.
Nationwide, about 700 field representatives will interview close to 27,000 households, either by telephone or in person. The Census is urging those selected to cooperate with the survey, which takes about 45 minutes to complete.
As Geno Auriemma opens his new restaurant at the Storrs Center development near the University of Connecticut, the next phase of the $220 million project is on schedule to open in early August.
Howard Kaufman, managing member of Tuxedo, N.Y.-based LeylandAlliance, the project’s master developer, told me today that the 195 apartments now under construction are almost entirely leased.
The next phase is known as Royce Circle, a five-story building with 40,000 square feet of ground-level retail and commercial space. It is part of the larger Town Square. In addition to the apartments at Royce Circle, the UConn Health Center, the UConn co-op bookstore, Webster Bank and an Asian restaurant will occupy space.
Read more about the plans for Storrs Center here.
This week, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, part of the university’s puppet programs at the School of Fine Arts, said it would move its museum and performance space to the co-op. The museum is now located at UConn’s Depot campus.
Town Square, so named because it is intended to serve as a downtown area and meeting place, already has 127 apartments and Royce Circle will push that number to 320. The apartments range from studios to three-bedroom units, with monthly rents ranging from $1,000 to $2,650.
Eventually, plans call for as many as 675 apartments, 120 townhouses and condominium flats and 170,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Construction on a Price Chopper supermarket is expected later this spring and could open in about a year, Kaufman told me.
UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma has opened his restaurant at the Storrs Center development.
Auriemma, fresh off the NCAA tournament championship, officially opened Geno’s Grille Thursday — but there was a soft opening that began a couple of weeks ago that wasn’t announced or advertised.
Here’s coverage from The Courant’s sister television station FOXCT:
Read my story about the Storrs Center development, which includes interactive graphics.
Hartford’s housing authority is seeking proposals to redevelop two, rundown housing complexes in the city’s North End.
The city has long targeted the Westbrook Village and Bowles Park apartment developments off Albany Avenue for redevelopment. Planners from the Urban Land Institute said earlier this year the area should be redeveloped for mixed use, including a strong housing component.
Read more about efforts to redevelop Albany Avenue here.
Annette Sanderson, the authority’s executive director, declined today to articulate a vision for the 136 acres now occupied by the apartments, many in two-story, four-unit buildings.
See a map of the complexes.
Sanderson told me she didn’t want to influence the direction of the proposals at this early stage. She did say she expects housing to form a strong component, either rental or owner occupied. It is likely there would be a mix of affordable and market-rate units.
Sanderson said there could be one developer for the entire area or more than one.
The proposals are due July 8. There is no timeline for the beginning of construction because financing will first need to fall into place.
The 50-year-old complexes contain a total of 770 apartments, 250, or about 30 percent occupied. The majority are vacant and have been “decommissioned,” meaning they are no longer rented to tenants.
Panera Bread will open its downtown Hartford cafe May 13 at 10 State House Square, its owner and operator said this morning.
The Hartford location will be open Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. The owner and operator of the Panera, Howley Bread Group, is considering opening on the weekends in the future, a spokesman told me.
The week before the opening, Panera will host six “Preview Parties” to mark the opening and raise funds for six Hartford charities: The Hartford Public School’s PROMISE College Access & Scholarship Program; Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Hands on Hartford; Charities of Hope; Travelers Championship Charities; and Hartford Hospital Partnership for Breast Care.
For a donation of $10 per person at the door, invited guests will be served a full breakfast or lunch. The donations will benefit the charities. For more information, visit www.panerabreadhbg.com and click on “contact us.”
On Friday, May 17, starting at 8 a.m., the first 500 customers will receive a free Panera travel mug and a voucher for free coffee refills for the next 30 days at the State House Square location.
The State House Square cafe is the 26th owned and operated by the Howley in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Other Paneras operated by Howley in Connecticut are in Bristol, Canton, Enfield, Glastonbury, Groton, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Lisbon, two sites in Manchester, Newington, Waterford, West Hartford and Wethersfield.
The consortium proposing to build a $1 billion casino and entertaiment complex in Milford, Mass., which includes Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort Casino, will open a local storefront to market the project.
FCX LLC said the storefront will give residents access to the information on the project, voice concerns and express their ideas.
“Working with a Milford realtor, we have found an office location that we feel will best serve our needs, which is to inform the community of our plans and answer inquiries,” Scott Butera, Foxwoods’s president and chief executive, said. “We have signed papers, anticipate moving in shortly and look forward to opening our doors very soon.”
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