Connecticut Home Sales Rise In March But Prices Retreat

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Home sales in Connecticut moved upward again in March, but prices reversed direction, slipping for the first time since the fall of 2012, a new report today shows.

The median sale price of a single-family house fell by 8.2 percent in March to $225,000, from $245,000 in the same month a year ago, according to the monthly housing report from the Warren Group, which tracks real estate trends.

The decline in the median price — in which half the sales are above, half below — was the first on a year-over-year basis since September, 2012.

Sales rose a modest, 3.2 percent in March to 1,583, the eleventh monthly increase in a row.

Through the first three months of this year, sales are up 2.9 percent and the median price is down by 2.1 percent, Warren Group reported.

Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of Warren Group, said Connecticut home sale market is still on track in its modest recovery from a deep housing recession, despite the price decline.

“The continued increase in the number of single-family homes is evidence that the market continues to recover,” Warren said.

One month of a price decline wasn’t cause for concern, he said.

“That makes it an aberration of the data and not the start of a new trend,” Warren said.

Connecticut’s Record Home Sale Already Topped

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The $120 million sale of Greenwich’s Copper Beech Farm set a national record three week ago for the highest price ever paid for a residential property in the United States.

But Connecticut didn’t hold bragging rights long.

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

Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich sold for $120 million. (Courtesy of

The New York Post reports the price for Copper Beech already has been topped by the $147 million sale of an 18-acre beachfront property in the Hamptons.

The estate, with formal gardens and a pond, was purchased by a hedge fund manager, The Post reports.

Read more about the sale here.



Director Ron Howard Selling Greenwich Estate

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Ron Howard's Greenwich mansion is up for sale.

Ron Howard’s Greenwich mansion is up for sale. (Southeby’s International Realty)

Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard is selling his 32-acre Greenwich estate for $27.5 million, including an observation silo with a telescope and frontage on a lake.

Howard’s Conyers Farm compound in Greenwich’s backcountry has a 17,200-square-foot, 23-room main house. The Victorian, shingle-style house has 6 bedrooms, 5 baths and 4 half-baths.

See a photo gallery of Ron Howard’s estate.

The listing comes amid a mini-boom this year for Fairfield County properties priced a $10 million or more, with Greenwich being the center of activity.

For all of 2013, there were 13 sales of homes that closed for more than $10 million. Through just the first four months of this year, six Greenwich estates in that same price range have already sold and another six are under contract.

The main house on the Howard compound also has 7 fireplaces, a home theater, an indoor pool, library, wine cellar and an in-law apartment.

The grounds feature a barn with an indoor sports complex, pool, frontage on a private lake, tennis court and a horse-training area. The estate also includes a Craftsman-style, 2-bedroom guest house.

The Stamford Advocate reported that Howard and his wife, Cheryl, moved to Greenwich in 1985 to raise three daughters and a son outside the glare of the entertainment industry — building the house in 1994. The children, the paper said, attended Greenwich Country Day School.

The Howards are selling now that their children are grown, The Advocate reported.

Howard, 60, won Academy Award best director and picture honors for “A Beautiful Mind” (2001). In addition to scores of producing and directing credits, he is also known for memorable roles in “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s and “Happy Days” in the 1970s as well as the 1973 film “American Graffiti”.

Lyn Stevens of Sotheby’s International Realty and Tamar Lurie of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage are co-marketing the listing.

A Los Angeles Times report is included in this post.




New Owner Of Hartford’s Fuller Brush Factory Plans Renovations

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A New York investor has purchased the former Fuller Brush factory complex in Hartford for $3.9 million and has plans to renovate the North End property.

Ray Bauer, who owns properties in Manhattan and Westchester County, said he and a partner plan to invest at least several millions of dollars in renovations in an attempt to rejuvenate Main Street property, now known as Tower Business Center.

The new owner of the former Fuller Brush factory in Hartford plans renovations. Photo Credit: RM Bradley

The new owner of the former Fuller Brush factory in Hartford plans renovations. Photo Credit: RM Bradley

“It’s what I do,” Bauer told me. “I get them on the way down, and I bring them back up, and I look like a hero.”

The purchase is Bauer’s first in Connecticut.

The building’s anchor tenants are two state departments — social services and labor. But the future of those leases is uncertain as the state is seeking to consolidate office locations.

Bauer said he is open to multiple tenant uses in the 320,000-square-foot complex, which includes two main structures, divided into about a dozen smaller buildings.

He said the complex, on 12 acres near the Windsor line, also could be suitable for housing.

Bauer said he paid cash for the property, which was originally marketed for $6 million. The seller was Tower Business Center LLC, whose principle is Irving Bork of Ellington, according to state business records.

The building was constructed in 1922 for the Fuller Brush Co., combining eight locations in the city. The company became well-known for its network of door-to-door Fuller Brush men and women. The building remained a local landmark even after the company left the city in 1962.


Bushnell: State Office Renovation Should Add Extension Of Clinton Street

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Planning for the renovation of the state office building on Capitol Avenue across from The Bushnell soon will kick into high gear, and the theater isn’t wasting any time advancing its ideas for the $147 million project.

The Bushnell says the state should consider extending Clinton Street along the east side of the office building at 165 Capitol Ave. to Buckingham Street. Clinton now runs from Bushnell Park past The Bushnell’s Belding Theater and stops at Capitol Avenue.

By extending it, The Bushnell says and pairing it with an adjacent green space on a portion of the existing state office parking lot, it would create a pedestrian-friendly route to Bushnell Park and connect new parking areas for state workers and Bushnell patrons.

The extension of Clinton and addition of the green space would be part of the city’s iQuilt initiative, aimed at making downtown Hartford more walkable and better connecting attractions in the city. Bushnell Park plays a key role in iQuilt.

“It would truly connect our namesake park to us and to other parking across Capitol Avenue,” David Fay, The Bushnell’s president and chief executive, told me. “It would visually extend Clinton to Buckingham.”

The green space, dubbed “Connecticut Square,” has always been in the thinking for iQuilt, but this latest idea reduces the square’s size by half, making room for a mixed-use development of housing, restaurants and parking. The state has said such a mixed-use is a possibility.

This rendering shows an extension of Clinton Street past the state office building, to the right, a green space and housing wrapped around a parking garage. Across Capitol Avenue, to the east of The Bushnell is a preliminary vision for a mixed-use development.  Rendering Credit: Suisman Urban Design.

This rendering shows an extension of Clinton Street past the state office building and, to the right, a green space and housing wrapped around a parking garage. Across Capitol Avenue, to the east of The Bushnell is a preliminary vision for a mixed-use development. Rendering Credit: Suisman Urban Design.

“It would truly connect our namesake park to us and to other parking across Capitol Avenue,” David Fay, The Bushnell’s president and chief executive, told me. “It would visually extend Clinton to Buckingham.”

The state has hired Amenta/Emma, of Hartford, for the state building renovation project and is now finalizing the contract. Once that happens, the firm will have five months to come up with designs and proposals, state officials say.

The Bushnell hopes planning for the state office building will dovetail with its vision for redevelopment on its side of Capitol Avenue. The Bushnell envisions apartments, restaurants and other retail on land just to the east of its campus.

Fay says there are no dining options near the theater now and such a redevelopment would inject new life into the area.

See my story for more details on Bushnell’s plans.

The state plans to demolish the former state laboratory building on Clinton, perhaps later this year. The Bushnell is in discussions with the state about a possible donation of the property once the building is torn down.

The state says no decision has been made of the future of the property, where asbestos is now being removed.

The Bushnell’s vision for its side of Capitol is still years away and depends on not only the land but securing a developer. If successful, a new development could provide a stream of income for The Bushnell.

Renovations at the state office building could also be paired with housing on a portion of the existing parking lot, a parking garage incorporated into those plans.

Read my story about renovations planned for 165 Capitol Ave.

A rendering of the view north to Capitol Avenue. Credit: Suisman Urban Design.

A rendering of the view north to Capitol Avenue. Credit: Suisman Urban Design.

Parking will be a key consideration, given the needs by state office workers and Bushnell patrons, who have enjoyed free parking for decades on the existing lot.

For The Bushnell’s plan to work, serious consideration must be given to shared parking on both sides of the street, The Bushnell says. One estimate places the number of potential parking spaces at more than 3,000, including 100 under Connecticut Square.









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

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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.