“We’re in a different business here.”
Developer Felix Charney was speaking of the changes that have taken place at The Summit at Danbury, formerly the Matrix Corporate Center, since his Southport-based Summit Development acquired it for $17 million in October 2018.
What was an aging, dark and mostly empty edifice is being transformed into a bright and airy presence designed to attract both Connecticut and New York companies — and, if approvals are achieved as Charney hopes, apartment dwellers.
But his “different business” remark also refers to what he later said was a “city within a city” approach, encompassing everything from offices and apartments to a wing featuring medical services, outdoor “pocket parks” that can be enjoyed by all tenants, a full-service Market Place restaurant and a grocery.
“(Original occupant) Union Carbide built this as a very interior experience,” Charney said at a Dec. 19 event celebrating the conclusion of Phase I of the redevelopment. “We’ve had new roads put in, vertical transportation to common areas at each end of the main lobby, gathering spaces, co-working spaces … we’re rightsizing the building.”
The complex at 39 Old Ridgebury Road will ultimately consist of 700,000 square feet of Class A office space; 75,000 square feet of conference and event space; 30,000 square feet of core services and amenities; and, it is hoped, 400,000 square feet of residential apartments. The 400-plus apartments will average around 650 square feet apiece, according to project manager Michael Basile.
Phase II will mostly involve the completion of a fitness center, the pocket parks and Market Place. The latter operates six restaurants around the state, including another in Danbury, as well as in Newtown and Brookfield. In addition to its rustic American/fusion fare, it will offer a full beer, wine and cocktail menu with takeout service available in addition to its 100-seat dining room.
Charney said he hopes that Phase II will also include those residences.
“The idea is that all of these components will feed off of each other,” he said.
Summit Development has engaged Stamford’s Cushman & Wakefield for brokerage services. Kathleen Fazio, senior director at Cushman, said that several new commercial tenants have signed on, joining Christian nonprofit Guideposts, which was on the brink of leaving its longtime home at the site before Charney came in, and software company MaxQ.
New lessees include tech firm Service Engine; the Society of Plastic Engineers; construction company Morganti; Danbury Medical Group; Autism Behavioral Health; employment agency RightPro Staffing; and American International Relocation Solutions (AIRES), which offers employee-relocation services to corporations.
Office spaces needs of 1,000 square feet and above can be accommodated, according to Brian Scruton, a director at Cushman.
Charney said he’s continuing to dream big with the project, with a golf course/driving range a possibility. “I’m also talking with BLADE about providing a helicopter service,” he said, referring to the company that offers flights between Manhattan, The Hamptons, Nantucket, and the New Jersey coast.
Projects like The Summit at Danbury obviously change as they come together – not least its name. Originally dubbed The Ridge at Danbury, it became necessary to come up with a new moniker to avoid confusion with The Ridge Collection at Rivington, a nearby Toll Brothers townhouse development.
“You never want to name a building after yourself,” Charney advised. “If you have ‘The Charney Building’ and something goes wrong, you have to change your name.”