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Office construction opportunities seen in Westchester/Fairfield.

Competition for corporate relocations in the tri-state region has intensified in recent years, with states, counties and cities battling head-to-head to lure new businesses.

Westchester and Fairfield counties, with their aggressive economic development efforts and excellent quality of life, have garnered their fair share of corporate relocations in recent years. However, the past year has seen a slowdown in relocations from Manhattan to the northern suburbs.

The volatility of the stock market and its aftershocks to corporate bottom lines has forced some Manhattan-based companies to reconsider their relocation plans. The improved quality of life in New York City has also played a role.

Another reason for the recent drop in relocations is the shortage of newly constructed prime office space in Westchester and Fairfield counties. Of the space available in the two-county region, much of it was built in the late 1970's and early to mid-1980's. Even the newest space is at least 10 years old.

"There is an enormous demand for high quality, new office space in both Westchester and Fairfield counties. Companies looking to move from Manhattan have very high standards in terms of architectural design, amenities and building systems," said David J. Friedman, northeast regional vice president for Louis Dreyfus Property Group, an international real estate company. "With plans underway for world-class office buildings in both counties, we are well positioned to meet the growing demand of today's sophisticated corporate tenants."

In Westchester, Louis Dreyfus Property Group has begun work on a 315,000 square-foot office park in Goldens Bridge in the Town of Lewisboro. Located on 58 wooded acres along Route 22 in very close proximity to Interstate 684, the Goldens Bridge complex will be comprised of two four-story office buildings connected by an atrium providing for the main entrance lobby.

Designed by the internationally renowned architectural firm of Kevin Roche John Dinkebo and Associates, the office park is uniquely designed over a valley and a running brook, with an enclosed parking structure below grade. More than 75 percent of the heavily wooded property will be left undisturbed.

The buildings will feature four floors of 74,000 square feet each and provide amenities such as a 400-seat cafeteria and a 5,000 square-foot fitness center. "The flexible design and large floorplates of the Goldens Bridge project make it ideally suited for either a corporate headquarters or a division-level operations facility," said Friedman.

Also in Westchester County, Louis Dreyfus Property Group has plans to build two additional buildings totaling 300,000 square feet at Sutton Park, a 30-acre corporate office park in Valhalla. The first of three buildings, Sutton Park North, a 100,000 square-foot building, is fully leased.

Across the border in Fairfield County, CT, Louis Dreyfus Property Group is expected to break ground shortly on Twenty Westport Road, a 320,000 square-foot office building in Wilton. Located on Route 33, just two miles north of the Merritt Parkway, Twenty Westport Road will feature two buildings, each with 156,000 square feet on three levels connected by enclosed bridges on two floors, offering floors of 52,000 to 104,000 square feet. Twenty Westport Road will be developed in joint venture with Apollo Real Estate Investment Fund II.

"The Wilton area has emerged as one of the region's most sought-after office markets. There is serious interest in Twenty Westport Road from several major companies, which is why we are looking forward to beginning construction," Friedman observed.

Amenities at Twenty Westport Road will include a full service cafeteria and a fitness center. This is the second and final phase of an office complex that includes Ten Westport Road, a 200,000 square-foot building owned and managed by Louis Dreyfus. Ten Westport Road, which is fully occupied, is the North American headquarters of Louis Dreyfus Corporation and world headquarters of the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche.

In what will be its largest office project in the region, Louis Dreyfus Property Group, in joint venture with Apollo Real Estate Investment Fund II, is finalizing plans for the development of Connecticut Place, a 23-story, 504,000 square-foot world-class office building in downtown Stamford.

The site, which is directly off Exit 7 of 195 and across from the Swiss Bank headquarters, currently includes 24 Richmond Hill Avenue, a nine-story, 68,000 square-foot office building, and other buildings owned and managed by Louis Dreyfus that are slated for demolition.

Connecticut Place is located just one block from the Stamford Transportation Center and will have direct access to the north and south ramps of 1-95. Plans currently under way to extend the Stamford Transportation Center's entrance under 1-95 to its northern side and opposite the Swiss Bank complex will provide direct access from Connecticut Place to commuter rail and bus transportation.

"Downtown Stamford is unquestionably the first choice of corporations considering moving from Manhattan. Stamford has a great deal to offer - an excellent transportation network, a lively downtown area, world-class corporations and a city government committed to promoting economic growth. And with the city's vacancy rate for Class A space at an all-time low, this is a tremendous opportunity for a world-class office building such as Connecticut Place," said Friedman.

Designed by the internationally renowned architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Connecticut Place will have typical floor plates of 26,000 square feet. The building has four floors providing nearly 16-foot slab-to-slab spans, with finished floor heights of close to 12 feet for executive floors or to accommodate raised computer floors for trading or data transmission. The building's flexible design can accommodate the requirements of both medium and large space users. The plan provides for a six-level parking structure with close to three parking spaces per 1,000 rentable square feet of space.

The interior of Connecticut Place will feature state-of-the-art, advanced building systems and finishes and materials typical of the finest office buildings. Planned amenities include a fitness center, cafeteria, a first-class restaurant and a sundry shop. As the tallest building in the city, Connecticut Place will offer spectacular unobstructed panoramic views of downtown Stamford and Long Island Sound.

"We believe that Connecticut Place will set a new standard of excellence in this market, with a level of design, quality and amenities equal to the very best in Manhattan," said Friedman.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 10, 1999
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