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Redevelopment pro sells out Cos Cob condo in one month.

Redevelopment pro sells out Cos Cob condo in one month

A 39-home condominium complex here sold out in a little more than a month after languishing for two years of construction and sales inactivity.

The successful completion of sales at Greenwich Court --accomplished in a stagnant Fairfield County residential real estate market -- resulted from a redevelopment formula designed by F.T. Charney & Co., Inc., to produce instant results.

"Bringing a failed project back to life requires a lot more than just changing the name and finishing up construction," said Felix T. Charney, president of the 10-year-old, Danbury, Connecticut-based redevelopment company. "Sometimes you have to throw out the entire marketing/pricing strategy and start from scratch."

That is precisely what the Charney organization had to do with a condominium which opened with great promise but quickly became a liability.

Formerly named Swan Court, the complex began sales in the spring of 1989, but soon ran into a series of serious fiscal and legal complications. Financial difficulties and charges of cost overruns led the Bank of Boston, the first mortgage-holder on the property, to begin foreclosure proceedings in October, 1989, forcing the stoppage of all construction and sales activity.

After failing to come to a successful work-out solution with the property's original owners, the bank asked the Charney firm -- which had previously redeveloped and sold out Miller's Crossing, a residential condominium in nearby Greenwich, for Connecticut Bank and Trust -- to complete construction at the Cos Cob site, develop a new marketing strategy and reopen sales.

"When we were first brought in," explained Charney, "we found a living example of failed real estate at its worst. Landscaping and sitework were incomplete, the homes' exteriors and interiors were unfinished, the only occupants were a band of raccoons, and the site was strewn with developmental garbage. From a sales and marketing standpoint, the psychological scars projected by the seemingly abandoned property were as bad as its physical liabilities."

The Charney organization tackled these problems with a multifaceted redevelopment plan. First, the bank was persuaded to change the complex's name to Greenwich Court to stop widespread reference to the site as "the builder's swan song." The bank also agreed to invest heavily to complete and refurbish buildings, interiors, streetscaping and landscaping.

Next, the Charney organization assembled a new marketing team to rethink promotional and sales postures -- including William Pitt Real Estate, the broker which had participated in the successful two-month sell-out at Miller's Pond. Finally, original prices which ranged from $300,000 to $360,000 were significantly slashed to reflect today's realities including "opening day" specials starting as low as $199,000.

"We advertized heavily the positive characteristics of the property -- its great location, quality design and convenience to both nearby Stamford and Manhattan," said Julianne C. Sodokoff of William Pitt's Greenwich Office, who directed Greenwich Court's sales effort. "We also created suspense by not letting anyone see the finished homes until opening day.

"As a result of our advance marketing and teaser bargains, some 600 people jammed our sales office on opening day and we took more than 60 deposits," Sodokoff adds. "Most were first-time buyers who were apparently waiting for the right deal; others were people shut out of Miller's Crossing. After three weeks, 22 units representing $4.8 million were sold at an average price of $218,000. A sell-out was just a matter of time."
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Title Annotation:F.T. Charney and Co. Inc.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 4, 1991
Words:563
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