The Real Deal Tristate

Vineyard Vines HQ sold in Stamford, Avon inks Rye deal & more Westchester and Fairfield real estate news

By Maya Rajamani | July 18, 2019 07:45PM

Clockwise from top left: Development site near New Rochelle’s train station hits the market at $28M, renewal activity increases in Westchester County’s office market, Fairfield County’s office market has its best first half since 2015 and Westchester wants restrictions lifted on its potential uses for a century-old estate in Mount Kisco (credit: David Alexander David).

Group buys Stamford’s Vineyard Vines building for $34M
More than a month after buying a Stamford office building for $163 million, Philadelphia-based Rubenstein Partners has sold another office property in the city for $33.5 million, according to the Stamford Advocate. Rubenstein and New York-based George Comfort & Sons sold 181 Harbor Drive — which serves as the headquarters of the Vineyard Vines clothing company — to a joint venture led by New York-based real estate firms the Melohn Group and Drake Street Partners. The Daily Voice Plus reported that a CBRE team led by vice chairman Jeffrey Dunne represented the sellers and brought in the buyers. Rubenstein and George Comfort will retain ownership of the waterfront Shippan Landing campus, of which 181 Harbor Drive is one of six buildings. Rubenstein and George Comfort are in the process of making $40 million in capital improvements to the site, and Rubenstein noted that Vineyard Vines will remain a tenant in the building it has now sold to Melohn and Drake[Advocate] — Brian Baxter

Avon’s real estate arm unloads Rye facility for $23M
Avon Capital Corporation, the domestic real estate and financing vehicle controlled by the cosmetics giant of the same name, has parted ways with a property in Rye, the Daily Voice Plus reported. The vehicle sold the 176,000-square-foot facility located at 601 and 621 Midland Avenue to a limited liability company called Midland Rye — a vehicle controlled by George Comfort & Sons, the Feil Organization and O’Connor Capital Partners — for $23.1 million, according to the outlet. The facility sits on 18.13 acres of land and used to house Avon’s data center, as well as other related operations. “Midland Avenue garnered substantial interest from investors, users and developers due to its unmatched transit-centric location and superior access to knowledge workers in one of Westchester’s most prestigious communities,” said Kevin Welsh, an executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank, which brought in the buyer and worked on behalf of the seller. Real Estate Weekly reported that Actio Corporate Asset Advisors also advised Avon on the sale. Avon laid off all of its 105 workers in Rye last December. [DVP]

Report finds rise in activity for Westchester’s office market
Leasing activity in Westchester County’s office market was down almost 8 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2019, but was up 9 percent when compared to the first quarter, the Daily Voice Plus reported, citing data from CBRE. The second quarter saw 153,904 square feet of leasing activity, but the first and second quarters combined had 405,000 square feet of activity, according to CBRE. Renewal activity, meanwhile, clocked in at 226,000 square feet — the highest it’s been since the third quarter of 2017. The availability rate stood still year-over-year, at 17.3 percent, while the average asking price on leases — $28.32 — was down 4.3 percent from the same time last year “because expensive space was leased or otherwise removed from the market,” according to the DVP. Global law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, the New York State Department of Labor, shared office space provider Regus and the hedge fund Greywolf Capital Management were involved in the top four renewal deals during the second quarter, the CBRE report said. [DVP]

Fairfield office market sees best first half since 2015: report
The office market in Fairfield County may have had its lowest quarter for leasing activity since the first quarter of 2013, with 308,000 square feet of new leases signed, but that was still good enough for its “best first half of the year since 2015,” according to CBRE’s second quarter report. Class A space made up 77 percent of all of Fairfield County’s new leases during the last quarter, and new ventures comprised 34 percent of new leasing activity, per CBRE data. Average asking rents, meanwhile, rose by a mere $0.06 — to $35.35 per square foot — between the first and second quarters of 2019. “[W]e are seeing more media and production companies lease space, which we expect to continue into the second half of the year,” said a statement from CBRE executive vice president Tom Pajolek. Jim Fagan, a managing principal at Cushman & Wakefield, told the Daily Voice Plus that Fairfield County will likely see a drop in vacancies during the next few months as large corporate tenants move into newly-leased space. A Cushman & Wakefield market report found that Stamford accounted for 58.1 percent of all demand in Fairfield County during the second quarter. [DVP]

New Rochelle development site hits the market at $28M
North Star Commercial, a limited liability company, has tapped Paul Massey’s B6 Real Estate Advisors to market a commercial building and adjacent lot in New Rochelle. Rockland County-based North Star is seeking $28 million for the 33,220-square-foot building and 16,610-square-foot lot, which sits two blocks from the New Rochelle train station. Property records show that the LLC shelled out $5.9 million for the property four years ago. Thomas Donovan, who joined B6 as vice chairman last year, told The Real Deal the property is “well located” and that the “price to entry is very reasonable.” New Rochelle, which has been a boon to developers in recent years, thanks in part to its development-friendly Mayor Noam Bramson, this month smoothed the way for a 24-story, 225-key hotel not far from the development site and saw a $190 million downtown mixed-use project secure financing. [TRD]

Westchester looks to lift restrictions on Mount Kisco estate
An estate in Mount Kisco could eventually be used as a destination for weddings or a set for movies and television shows if a restriction on commercial uses is lifted, LoHud reported. Westchester County, which owns the 130-acre Merestead estate after it was donated by the William Sloane family in 1982, wants a court to lift the restriction on the property. Merestead includes a deteriorating 1906-built mansion, trails, a farmhouse and a barn. The county was gifted the estate to use for parkland, but wants to rehabilitate the mansion, sell off some of the items that currently furnish it and reinvest the proceeds into the park, according to a statement from the office of Westchester County Executive George Latimer. The county also wants other restrictions abolished, such as one barring the construction of new buildings on the property and another that keeps the barn from being used for “non-barn purposes.” [LoHud]

Greenwich investor pays $18M for Westport’s National Hall
National Hall, a commercial complex along the banks of the Saugatuck River in Westport that hit the market late last year, has been sold for $17.5 million, the Connecticut Post reported. The outlet noted that Jose Gonzalez-Navarro, president of Greenwich-based securities brokerage GWM Group, is the acquirer. The largest building in the National Hall complex is 2 Post Road West, a three-story brick building that dates back to 1850 and is home to several local businesses, including the Meatball Shoppe and Oko Kitchen. Westport-based Greenfield Partners, which previously sold the site for $19.9 million in 2007 before reacquiring the property three years later, is once again the seller. Greenfield embarked on a renovation of the National Hall complex after its last purchase of the site. The firm, founded by Starwood Capital Group alum Gene Gorab and advised by Cushman & Wakefield, did not return the outlet’s request for comment about its decision to sell. TRD noted earlier this month the roughly $30 million sale of a two-building office property in Westport to a limited liability company. [CTPost] — Brian Baxter

Beauty services company renews Darien office lease
EC Scott has renewed its lease at an office building in Darien, the Daily Voice Plus reported. The beauty marketing and distribution services company agreed to a five-year extension for its 6,750-square-foot space at 1 Thorndal Circle. EC Scott has been leasing the space on a month-to-month basis for the past six years. Colliers International executive managing director and marketing leader Jeffrey Williams and associate director Hollis Pugh completed the renewal. “Jeff and the Colliers team helped us secure terms that ensured our business did not experience any disruptions so that we could continue providing our clients with an unmatched level of service,” EC Scott founder and CEO Mark Scott said in a statement, according to the outlet. [DVP]