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.
â€œWeâ€™ve seen a mix on both the residential and the commercial sideâ€ 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 buildingâ€™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 yearâ€™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 ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂBeinfield and graffiti art by Art of Jahmane, all Norwalk-based â€“ and that it sits about three-tenths of a mile from the East Norwalk stop on the Metro-North â€“ helped seal the deal, according to GameChange Founder and CEO Andrew Barron Worden.
â€œWe 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,â€ 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 â€œwill probably be short-term. As long as we can see stable economic growth, I think itâ€™ll be a short-term pop here. Our success is tied to New York Cityâ€™s, so we still need them to do well in order for us to do well.â€
What is now Brim & Crown began life as the Hat Corp. of America â€“ hence the new complexâ€™s name â€“ 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.
â€œWe felt the location was great, right near the train station, and that it had a lot of character,â€ 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 latterâ€™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 â€œa 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.â€
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 â€“ which he said had been specifically designed for just such a use â€“ and that another 3,000-square-foot retail space remains open.
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