Office market emerges in Connecticut’s richest town 

Financial firms are turning Darien into ‘Greenwich lite’

Office Leasing and Development Is Surging In Darien
Baywater Properties’ David Genovese (LinkedIn, GEtty)

Darien’s claim to recent real estate fame is not just about the recent purchase of an $85 million island, but the small Connecticut community is also emerging in the office market.

The town’s popularity as an office destination is growing, Bloomberg reported. While it’s nowhere close to rivaling the hubs of its larger Connecticut counterparts, such as Greenwich and Stamford, the ability to work close to home has some major companies, particularly in the finance sector, embracing the quaint town.

Insurance company Aon Plc, investment firm Crestwood Advisors and financial services company Janney Montgomery Scott are among the companies setting up shop in Darien (population: 22,000). Cantor Fitzgerald already had an office there, but has doubled the location’s headcount since the pandemic.

Darien is the only town in Fairfield County to add office space for lease since the onset of the pandemic. Much of that space is being developed in the Corbin District, two square blocks in the town’s downtown area. The development of the district is being led by Baywater Properties, run by David Genovese, former co-head of real estate investment banking for Credit Suisse First Boston.

The first phase of Genovese’s lease was fully leased upon completion. The second phase is already 60 percent leased and is expected to wrap in two years, when 100,000 square feet will come online. At that point, Darien will have a grand total of 915,000 square feet of office space, according to CBRE.

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While Darien’s growth as a hub for major firms has drawn comparisons to Greenwich, the former is much too tiny to be a true rival. 

Still, the office leasing data is staggering, even accounting for the fact that Darien’s sample size is small. Last year, office leasing in Stamford’s business district fell 9 percent year-over-year, while Greenwich leasing rose 9 percent annually; Darien’s leasing surged 164 percent, according to CBRE.

The average asking rent for space at Genovese’s buildings are way more affordable than those in Greenwich and slightly cheaper than Manhattan, according to JLL.

Holden Walter-Warner

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