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Dreyfus and Newmark bet Stamford is ready for tower.

Louis Dreyfus Property Group is set to begin construction on a 23-story, 574,000 SF building in Stamford, Conn. overlooking Interstate 95.

"We don't have an exact construction date, but we plan to start this summer," said David Friedman, northeast regional vice president.

Called Connecticut Place, the building will be the tallest in Stamford. It will be located across the street from UBS Warburg and a short walk from the Stamford Transportation Center. The developers and owners of the building are Louis Dreyfus and Apollo Real Estate Investment Fund. The leasing agent is Newmark & Company Real Estate.

Within the next two to four weeks, the company is planning to announce that it has secured two leases for almost 300,000 SF in the building. Friedman said he could not name the company or the type of industry that was planning to move into the building, citing confidentiality agreements.

Friedman said he was optimistic about that the rest of the space would be leased quickly. He said the company was working on a third, 80,000 SF lease and had another three million SF of prospective tenants. He said smaller tenants typically do not commit to space until a building is under construction.

"There's no question that the building will fill up. Nothing has been built in Stamford in 10 to 15 years," he said.

Architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the building with typical floor plates of 26,000 SF. Typical ceiling heights are nine feet, with four levels of ceiling heights of close to 12 feet. The building will have state-of-the-art technology and the capacity for a 60,000 SF trading floor, according to building reports.

There are seven levels of parking with 1,396 spaces or up to 2.5 spaces per 1,000 SF. Building amenities include a restaurant, full-service cafeteria, fitness center and sundry shop.

The building will be next to the Mill River greenbelt, which the city has been working to redevelop with hiking, biking and jogging trails along the river. As part of the approval for Connecticut Place, Louis Dreyfus agreed to donate property it owned bordering the river. The land has been cleared and turned over to the city. Future plans for the greenbelt include construction of market-rate rental apartments and the development of several restaurants, including one located in Connecticut Place that will overlook the river.

"We are very pleased that Connecticut Place is an integral part of the Mill River Corridor Redevelopment Plan. The combination of office development, housing, restaurants and parkland creates a truly unique urban environment that will serve as a catalyst for economic growth in downtown Stamford," Friedman said.

The Connecticut Place project will move forward at a time when Stamford, like the rest of the region, has experienced a slight increase in office vacancy rates. At the end of the first quarter it was 10.4 percent, up from 9 percent in the fourth quarter and 8.8 percent a year ago, according to reports.

Attributing to the higher vacancy rate was a decision by Cendant Corp. to move 440 employees from downtown Stamford to neighboring Norwalk, Conn. Xerox Corp. announced that it was downsizing and putting its 255,000 SF building up for sale.

Despite higher vacancy rates in Stamford, developers there are moving forward with scheduled projects. Hines Interests LP is searching for a tenant for its planned 26-story, 480,000 SF building at the corner of Atlantic Street and Tresser Boulevard before it begins construction.

"There's been very little development in Stamford. There's a good deal of demand and little supply," said John Goodkind, principal/executive managing director of Newmark.

To help secure tenants Louis Dreyfus built a marketing center on its site, where prospective tenants can view models of the planned building, and obtain other information about it, Goodkind said.

"You really get a good sense of the building. That's one of the reasons we've been successful in getting tenants," he said.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 16, 2001
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