Diplomatic estate in North Castle heads to auction, former NFL quarterback unloads Greenwich home and other Westchester & Fairfield real estate news

By Maya Rajamani | May 02, 2019 05:30PM

Clockwise from top left: North Castle estate to be auctioned off after Seychelles diplomat’s divorce, Westchester lawmakers clash over decision to end Rye Playland contract, Charter Communications exit won’t hurt its current Stamford building, exec says, and 7-building industrial and office/flex portfolio in Fairfield sells for $30M.

Clockwise from top left: North Castle estate to be auctioned off after Seychelles diplomat’s divorce, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms sells his Old Greenwich home, Westchester County lawmakers clash over decision to end Rye Playland contract, a Newmark Knight Frank executive claims that Charter Communications’ relocation in Stamford won’t hurt its soon-to-be-former office building.

North Castle estate to be auctioned off after diplomat’s divorce
The consul general and tourism ambassador of the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean island nation known for its robust offshore financial services sector, is selling his 7.9-acre estate in North Castle. Seychelles’ government shelled out $2.2 million in 2016 for the property at 1503 Old Orchard Street on behalf of Consul General Justin Etzin back in 2016, the New York Post reported. But Etzin, no stranger to tabloid headlines, and his wife, Latvian model Lana Zakocela, recently divorced, and the North Castle estate they lived in will now be auctioned off on June 13. The minimum bid has been set at $2.5 million, a more than 60 percent discount from its recent $6.75 million listing price, according to Daily Voice Plus. Paramount Realty USA, which is handling the auction, noted in a press release that the diplomatic property has previously been owned by the Hearst and Macy families. The North Castle property includes an 8-bedroom, 10-bathroom main house, guest cottages, stables, a log cabin, a parking garage and its own lake, according to the DVP. Attorney and Paramount Realty founder Misha Haghani told the outlet that whoever buys the estate could “choose to gut-renovate or demolish the main house, subdivide the property into three-to-six individual lots, or renovate it as a school, religious compound or other facility.” As for Etzin, son of hotel magnate Bernard Etzin, he told The Real Deal in a statement issued through a spokeswoman that the “auction process was chosen as a means for our Government to dispose of the Westchester Estate. We do realize that at auctions the real estate often sells at below market price, but we have chosen this selling platform for a sale in an efficient and timely manner.” [NYP]

NFL analyst, former quarterback sells Greenwich home for $2.7M
The National Football League’s New York Giants might have some uncertainty at the quarterback position, but a son of the team’s former star quarterback Phil Simms can rest easy after becoming the latest notable Greenwich property owner to sell their home, the New York Post reported. Chris Simms, himself a former NFL signal-caller, and his wife, Danielle, last month sold their nearly 4,000-square-foot, five-bedroom waterfront home at 12 Shore Road for $2.67 million. The 0.3-acre property, whose listing said it is located on a “sheltered estuary in Old Greenwich,” was custom-built in 2011 by Ridberg + Associates. The Post reported that the younger Simms, now an analyst on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” is moving to a larger home in the area. Douglas Elliman’s Monica Webster had the listing for Simms’ former home, which hit the market late last year seeking $2.799 million. Elliman noted in a recent report that Fairfield’s luxury sales market remained soft during the first quarter. [NYP]

Rye developer proposes 5-story mixed-use Larchmont building
A five-story mixed-use building could replace the existing commercial buildings on two parcels in Larchmont, according to the Daily Voice Plus. The outlet noted last week that an affiliate of Rye-based developer Elk Homes plans to build a 26-unit condo building with 5,000 square feet of retail space on two properties at 108-114 Chatsworth Avenue and 65 Wendt Avenue. Known as Centro Larchmont and designed by architectural firm Perkins Eastman, the project would include parking and a pedestrian walkway. The proposed development “offers many benefits to the community,” Elk Homes chairman Gary Hirsch told DVP, noting that it would have “minimal impact on municipal services.” Elk Homes will need a special-use permit and an easement from the village to move forward with its plans. As for Hirsch, its chairman, he spoke with DVP last month about branch out from the housing market into luxury rentals. [DVP]

Mack-Cali mulls new apartment complex in White Plains
Nearly two months after selling off a $487.5 million office and flex space portfolio in Westchester and Fairfield counties, an affiliate of Jersey City-based real estate investment trust Mack-Cali Realty is eyeing a potential apartment building in White Plains directly across from the city’s Metro-North train station, the Daily Voice Plus reported. A Mack-Cali owned office building at 1 Water Street, which the outlet said appears to be vacant, is on a 1.24-acre site behind a proposal for a new mixed-use development that would contain 300 apartments and retail space. An entity called 1 Water Street LLC is seeking to swap land that it owns with the city’s Urban Renewal Agency, whose members voted 4-0 on April 23 to allow the developer to include the agency’s property on the application it will submit to White Plains’ Common Council for approval, according to the DVP. Mack-Cali is in the midst of proxy fight with activist investor Bow Street Capital, which owns 4.5 percent of the REIT’s common stock. [DVP]

Cable giant’s HQ exit marks new era for Stamford office building
Stamford-based Charter Communications, the second-largest cable company in the country behind market leader Comcast, will leave its current home in the city for a new building in 2021, according to the Stamford Advocate. But the long-planned move that will see Charter vacate its headquarters at 400 Atlantic Street for a new home at Building and Land Technology’s 406 Washington Boulevard will not necessarily be disastrous for the former property, said one local broker. While 400 Atlantic will lose its largest tenant, the loss of Charter also presents opportunities for the building’s long-term leasing prospects, Newmark Knight Frank executive vice president James Ritman in Stamford told the Advocate. “It’s a great building with good amenities and well-located near the train station,” Ritman said. “It won’t be instantaneous, but in relatively short order, if the right things are done with that property, I think we’ll see big portions taken by companies in the area.” Charter currently has nearly 300,000 square feet of space at 400 Atlantic, according to the Advocate, which detailed several disputes between the St. Louis-based cable titan and the building’s landlord in recent years. [Stamford Advocate]

Westchester lawmakers spar over end of Rye Playland contract
Playtime could be over for Rye Playland. Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Sunday ended a 30-year contract with Standard Amusements, the company that was slated to start managing the Rye-based amusement park in November, and some lawmakers aren’t happy with the decision, LoHud reported. Latimer said his decision came because the county was “simply not satisfied with what we have been seeing,” noting that Westchester “wanted to see the energy, excitement and drive in Standard Amusements’ vision for Playland — we didn’t just want a real estate deal.” John Testa, the Republican minority leader of the Board of Legislators, however, said he felt Latimer’s decision was “a mistake financially for the success of the park and for the future of the county.” Standard Amusements had agreed in 2016 to take over management of Rye Playland and inject $27.5 million in much-needed investment to revitalize the park, but disagreements soon arose between the company and the county over who would be financially responsible for certain upgrades. Standard Amusements has accused Westchester of mismanagement and refusing to negotiate changes to its Rye Playland contract. [LoHud]

Joint venture pays $60M to acquire Milford mall after loan default
In New Haven County, the Milford Crossing Shopping Center has a new owner, the New Haven Register reported. Seattle-based real estate company Bridge33 Capital and New York-based Waterfall Asset Management have reportedly agreed to pay $59.6 million to purchase the mall, which was owned by Miami Beach-based LNR Partners. JLL brokered the sale. The 371,537-square-foot shopping center in Milford, located between Bridgeport and New Haven, is currently 98 percent leased. It includes stores such as Barnes & Noble, HomeGoods, Petco, Staples and Walmart. A spokesperson for Bridge33 Capital told the Register that the new owners of the 47-acre site “definitely want to keep our existing tenants.” Bridge33 and Waterfall Asset Management acquired the mall through an online auction after a previous owner defaulted on its loan, the outlet reported. [New Haven Register]