My colleague Jesse Leavenworth reports:
A major property owner and developer sold a commercial plaza on Buckland Hills Drive to a New Jersey investor for $7.75 million.
John Finguerra, principal of Northern Hills, LLC, sold 233 Buckland Hills Drive to Keith Beccia of Becrett, LLC, documents filed in the town clerk’s office this week show. The three stores in the plaza are La-Z Boy Furniture Gallery, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and a Scottrade branch.
Read more here.
My colleague Jenna Carlesso reports:
HARTFORD — The council has given city leaders the green light to enter into a lease with the Capital Region Development Authority to manage operations of the XL Center.
The XL Center would be leased to the state under a proposed 10-year agreement that guarantees the city annual payments of $3 million in the first two years, the state’s budget director has said. The agreement is necessary so the CRDA can finalize a contract with Global Spectrum, which has been chosen to manage the XL Center for the next decade.
The city council approved the proposal at its meeting Monday.
Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of CRDA, said the development authority expects to complete the contract with Global Spectrum and, in turn, the American Hockey League by its April 25 deadline.
The lease begins July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.
Initially, it was thought that the city would transfer ownership to the state. But the prospect of the state ending its “PILOT,” or payment in lieu of taxes program — proposed and supported by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — would have meant an abrupt end to payments to the city from the XL Center property, Ben Barnes, the secretary for the Office of Policy and Management, has said.
The state doesn’t pay property taxes to buildings it owns in towns and cities, instead compensating for some of that lost revenue through PILOT.
The city has received between $2 million and $2.5 million a year in lease payments under a soon-to-expire, 20-year lease agreement with the state.
Sales of single-family houses in Greater Hartford slowed in March from the strong pace at the end of 2012, but pending sales rose by more than 20 percent compared with a year ago, a new report this afternoon shows.
The increase in pending sales could be a sign that the area’s housing market may still be gaining momentum despite a disappointing report in March.
“Connecticut was one of the last states to experience the downturn in the housing market, so naturally we are a bit late to rebound,” Jeff Arakelian, the association’s president and CEO, said.
Closed sales of single-family houses were nearly flat in March, rising less than one percent to 645 from 643 for the same month a year ago, according to the monthly report from the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors.
The median sale price fell for the second month in a row on a year-0ver basis, sliding 2.7 percent in March, to $198,500 from $204,000 a year earlier, the association’s report, which covers a 57-town area, shows.
Sales have risen on a year-over-year basis since March of 2012, but the increase in March of this year was one of the most anemic. The median sale price — the point at which half the sales are above, half below — rose on a year-over-year basis in four months in 2012 and in January of this year.
Based on the inventory and the number of closed sales, the Hartford area has a nine-month supply of houses, firmly in a buyer’s market. A market with a six-month supply is said to favor neither buyer nor seller.
A housing recovery typically begins with an upswing in sales, followed by price increases.
A commercial real estate firm established by two local industry veterans in 2011 has added six locally, well-known executives as it broadens the services it can offer its clients.
East Hartford-based Goman + York, founded by R. Michael Goman, the former president and chief executive of Konover Development Corp., and Thomas D. York, a former real estate adviser at CB Richard Ellis, hopes the executives will further enable the firm to provide clients all services needed from project conception through construction.
The hires include the former head of business development and community relations at Northeast Utilities and the broker who assembled the dozen parcels that comprise what is now Blue Back Square in West Hartford.
“We’ve very selective in how we grow,” York told me today. “We’re not in the business of being high volume. We want to provide fewer clients with a high level of service.”
Here are profiles of the new executives provided by Goman + York:
- Peter Holland, senior vice president, Advisory Services, has 25 years’ experience providing advice and transactional services to institutional firms, nonprofit organizations and owners and users of commercial real estate around the globe.
Most recently a partner with Bartram & Cochran, Holland was previously senior vice president and chief procurement officer for The Hartford Financial Services Group for 20 years. He also served as chief operating officer for CoreNet Global, the international network of corporate real estate executives and site selection consultants. Holland resides in Simsbury, Conn.
- Douglas Fisher, senior vice president, Marketing and Government Relations, brings expertise in economic development, public affairs, marketing and negotiation. Fisher led business development, community relations and market research for Northeast Utilities.
Currently executive director of the Hartford-Springfield Economic Partnership, Fisher has led national and international business recruitment efforts in partnership with state and regional officials across New England. He previously had senior roles with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the state legislature. Fisher lives in Bolton, Conn.
- Dusty McMahan, senior vice president, Creative Development Officer, is a landscape architect, planner and project manager who uses visual communications to expedite development.
His career spans 25 years with firms in the United States and abroad, where he supervised the design and construction of 7.5 million square feet of commercial and mixed-use real estate, urban infill and resorts. A skilled consensus builder, McMahan was a vice president at Konover Development Corp., where he secured investment funds and serviced major national retail clients, including CVS and Walgreens. He lives in Coventry, Conn.
- Jonathan (Jay) Fisher, senior vice president, Brokerage and Development Services, brings 19 years’ experience creating strategic relationships between clients and property owners.
Former director of development for Simon Konover Development Corp. in West Hartford, Fisher has developed many industrial, commercial and residential areas around Bradley International Airport. His projects have ranged from single-tenant buildings of 4,500 sq. ft. to mixed-use lifestyle centers with 425,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 30,000 sq. ft. of office space and 275 multi-family units. Fisher resides in Glastonbury, Conn.
- Jonathan Cohn, senior vice president, Brokerage Services, identified and facilitated the acquisition of the 12 parcels that comprise what is now Blue Back Square in West Hartford.
During his 35 years’ representing landlords and tenants, Cohn has handled major lease negotiations of 139,000 sq. ft. to Intel Corp. in San Francisco, Calif.; 155,000 sq. ft. to the former Fleet Bank in Hartford; 80,000 sq. ft. to DHL Airways in Houston, Texas; 90,000 sq. ft. to The Travelers Companies Inc. in Farmington, Conn.; and 60,000 sq. ft. to Verifone in Atlanta, Georgia. He lives in Farmington, Conn.
- Craig Zimmerman, senior vice president, Capital Markets, brings 20 years’ experience in project finance, leasing and asset-based lending in the real estate, energy and infrastructure sectors.
He draws on investor and industry contacts built while director of Green Development Finance at Weston Solutions, Inc. and head of banking and finance groups at Merrill Lynch, where he marketed the Zell Opportunity Fund. He also managed Structured Lease Finance at NationsBank and led the Global Lease Finance Division at Fleet Capital. Craig has arranged more than $10 billion of project- and tax-oriented financings. He lives in Westport, Conn.
Plans to convert the former Capewell Horse Nail Co. factory in Hartford into housing have stumbled for more than a decade, but the project got a $2 million boost this week, winning a state brownfields clean-up grant.
The Corporation for Independent Living, a non-profit that works to expand housing alternatives, has secured an option to purchase the 1900s factory in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood from owner Boxer Properties.
Martin M. Legault, CIL’s president and chief executive, told me today that CIL is in talks with the city about two potential options for the $24 million project: 80 rental units or 67 condominium units, plus about 5,000 square feet of retail space.
“This is the last large blighted property in the area that needs to be addressed,” Legault told me. “It is the highest and best use: market-rate housing.”
Legault estimated that it will cost $3 million to do an environmental clean-up of the old building.
In addition, plans to convert 101 Pearl Street in downtown Hartford into 110 rental units won a state brownfields grant of $500,000 to remove lead and asbestos.
The conversion of the former Capewell Horsenail Factory in Hartford into housing got a $2 million boost from the state from funds targeting the clean-up of brownfield sites.
The grant was part of $10.5 million in loans and grants for announced today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Catherine Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
The Corporation for Independent Living has an option to purchase the 110-year-old brick, Capewell building in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood from Houston-based Boxer Properties.
The conversion of the former factory on Popieluszko Court into housing has stumbled in attempts that stretch back more than a decade. The grant announced today was given to the city of Hartford.
Martin M. Legault, CIL’s president, told me today that the non-profit is developing plans to convert the factory into housing.
The city’s director of development services, Thomas E. Deller, told me today that the conversion could be either rental or condominiums.
The discussions with CIL were still in early stages, and there was no clear timeline for completing the project, Deller said.
The Hartford Regional Market, the largest agricultural distribution facility between Boston and New York, could receive $400,000 from the state for much needed repairs.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced today that State Bond Commission will vote at its next meeting on the funding, which will be used to help pay for more than $600,000 in roof repairs.
The 1940s-era market contains 230,300 square feet of warehouse space on 32 acres and space for 144 farmers’ market stalls. The market also has an active railroad spur.
Also today, Malloy and Steven K. Reviczky, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture announced $817,000 in competitive matching grants that will benefit the state’s agricultural industry.
The city of Hartford has withdrawn its proposal for relocating the University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus to now-vacant, city-owned land on the northern edge of downtown, a city official told me today.
Thomas E. Deller, the city’s director of development services, said the decision resulted from recent discussions with UConn.
“We decided the city would be better served working with UConn to pick the best location for UConn and for us than competing for one of the sites,” Deller said.
Jared W. Kupiec, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra’s chief of staff, told me the decision to withdraw was the city’s and did not come from any negative feedback from UConn on the site.
Kupiec said the intent of the city’s proposal was to provide a cornerstone for redevelopment of the area known as “Downtown North.” At least three proposals that have become public — Talcott Street, 3 Constitution Plaza and the former bank processing building at 150 Windsor St. would accomplish the same thing, Kupiec said.
The University of Connecticut is seeking more information from a “handful” of property owners and developers who submitted proposals for relocating its West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz declined to identify which of the 13 proposals had been contacted. UConn has not revealed any of the proposed locations, but details have emerged about some of them.
See a map of some of the proposed locations here.
Reitz said UConn was seeking more information for the proposals that appeared to show the most promise, and that the property owners and developers will have a couple of weeks to respond. But she stressed that none of the proposals had been eliminated from contention.
“Everything is still on the table,” Reitz said.
After UConn announced that it would relocate its Greater Hartford campus in West Hartford to downtown Hartford late last year, it approved spending $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center on Constitution Plaza. The center was widely considered to be a front-runner for the relocation; but then UConn sought the additional proposals in late January.
UConn has not commented on any sites it has considered, and it has declined to release the study on education center.
Earlier this month, UConn President Susan Herbst said the university planned to announce a decision on a site in “early summer.”
A report from the U.S. Census today found that rental housing vacancy in the Hartford metro area dipped to 7.45 percent in 2011, but another report with more up-to-date statistics shows an even tighter rental market in 2013.
Marcus & Millichap recently estimated that the Hartford metro area now has a 3.2 percent rental vacancy rate, down from 3.4 percent a year ago. The vacancy could drop to 3 percent later this year.
The median rent rose 3.5 percent to $995 a month in 2012, but could rise as much as another 4 percent this year, according to Marcus & Millichap. Landlords aren’t offering as many concessions to attract renters.
“Uncertainty surrounds the local housing market and weak employment growth will keep [renters in the newest buildings] in apartments this year and support new demand, helping to pull down the rate even further,” according to a recent Marcus & Millichap forecast for the Hartford area.
The two reports cannot be directly compared because they were compiled using different criteria and may not contain the exact same towns and cities. But the Marcus & Millichap report suggests a particularly tight apartment market now exists in the Hartford area.
Steve Witten, executive vice president in Marcus & Millichap’s New Haven office, told me today New Haven and Fairfield counties are seeing similar vacancy rates.
The Marcus & Millichap report also found:
- Developers added 477 market-rate units in the Hartford area in 2012, expanding inventory by 1.3 percent. The 270-unit second phase of the Mansions at Hockanum Crossing was the biggest.
- Only 190 market-rate apartments are under way in the metro, all of which will be completed this year. About 3,000 more are planned, but only 10 percent have groundbreaking dates.
- Investors in apartment properties have paid increasingly higher prices per unit in each of the past four years. The median sale price in 2012 was $61,300 a unit, a 2-percent increase from the previous year.
In downtown Hartford alone, at least 1,000 units are planned in the next several years, the majority of them market-rate apartments.
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