Whether the much-bruited exodus from New York in favor of Connecticut will last or not may remain an open question, but at least one new mixed-use redevelopment project in Norwalk is already benefiting from it.
“We’ve seen a mix on both the residential and the commercial side” of prospective tenants from New York City, said Matthew Edvardsen, Director of Asset Management & Acquisitions and Principal of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, about Brim & Crown.
The two-building complex at 230 East Ave. will, when completed, include 189 apartments and over 50,000 square feet of commercial space. The Brim building’s 42 apartments are already 100% leased, while leasing is already underway for the 142 apartments in the Crown building, where construction is expected to be completed by year’s end.
On Oct. 8 came word that GameChange Solar will relocate its U.S. corporate headquarters from Manhattan to Brim & Crown, taking nearly 14,000 square feet to house some 100 employees.
That the Norwalk complex features a modern, eye-catching design — architecture by Beinfield Architecture, interior design by Carol Beinfield and graffiti art by Art of Jahmane, all Norwalk-based – and that it sits about three-tenths of a mile from the East Norwalk stop on the Metro-North – helped seal the deal, according to GameChange Founder and CEO Andrew Barron Worden.
“We chose Brim & Crown because of its urban, modern, and hip industrial chic glam design with New York City street graffiti-inspired graphics, convenient location to the train station, lifestyle amenities, and proximity to the historic and trendy SoNo,” Worden said in a prepared statement.
While Edvardsen said Spinnaker was of course happy to welcome GameChange to the city, he opined that the New York-to-Fairfield County trend “will probably be short-term. As long as we can see stable economic growth, I think it’ll be a short-term pop here. Our success is tied to New York City’s, so we still need them to do well in order for us to do well.”
What is now Brim & Crown began life as the Hat Corp. of America – hence the new complex’s name – before going through iterations as an outdoor mall and as office buildings. Edvardsen said the site had stood vacant for about 10 years before the City Hall contacted Spinnaker about a creative reuse of the property.
“We felt the location was great, right near the train station, and that it had a lot of character,” he said. The process of acquiring the property for nearly $14.6 million, undertaken in conjunction with New Canaan construction company The Fieber Group, took up much of 2017, with construction starting at the end of 2018, he said.
The luxury studio, one- and two-bedroom loft-style apartments, measuring from 750 to 990 square feet, feature oversized windows, open floor plans, 14-foot ceilings, LED lighting, energy efficient stainless appliances, keyless entry and large closets.
Other commercial tenants include canine day care center The Pooch Hotel and HealthPrize Technologies, a provider of patient engagement, education and adherence technology for life science companies. The latter’s CEO, John Monahan, also credited the proximity of the train station and the open floor design as key selling points for his firm.
In a statement, Monahan described the property as “a modern, positive environment in which to work, play, stay fit, and relax. We are excited about the potential the unique space can provide us as we grow.”
Edvardsen said that Spinnaker hopes to soon close a deal with a restaurant that would encompass a 2,000-square-foot space encompassing both indoor and outdoor space – which he said had been specifically designed for just such a use – and that another 3,000-square-foot retail space remains open.