Notably diverse mix of industries leasing in Stamford, Norwalk help power region

A notably diverse mix of industries has been taking commercial space in Stamford and Norwalk of late – something that one of the area’s premier developers, Building and Land Technology, says is indicative of Fairfield County’s continuing-to-grow strength.

“When you look at the major leases that took place in Stamford and Norwalk in 2019, the first thing you notice is the range of industries involved,” BLT co-President Ted Ferrarone said. “You’ve got science, finance, tech, entertainment, consumer goods all represented, and that’s not even all of them.”

Ferrarone said BLT is “constantly challenged by our corporate tenants to provide the highest level of service and amenities and update our office-building stock to accommodate the needs of today’s workforce.”

The most recent examples of those include:

45 Glover

  • FactSet, a global provider of integrated financial information, analytical applications, and industry-leading services, which in December moved into its new 173,000-square-foot global headquarters at 45 Glover Ave. in Norwalk. The Class A office building is part of the Towers at Merritt River campus, which also includes the 801 Main Ave. and 901 Main Ave. properties. Those locations all afford access to the Merritt Parkway, Route 7 and the Merritt 7 Metro-North train station.

20 Glover Avenue

  • Colangelo, a brand marketing agency, leased and moved into 11,234 square feet at 20 Glover Ave. in Norwalk in June to serve as its headquarters. The property boasts river views and outdoor seating along the Norwalk River and is also located with immediate access to Route 7, the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 95.

200 Elm Street

  • Diageo, the British multinational alcoholic beverages company, leased 57,551 square feet at 200 Elm St. in downtown Stamford in April, relocating its North American headquarters from 810 Main Ave. in Norwalk. The company will move into the property, which served as the former headquarters of Gen Re, in early 2020. The building’s features include a 4-story grand entrance atrium, modernized elevators, collaboration areas, a full-service café with grand rotunda seating area, outdoor central courtyard, full-service fitness center and more.
  • Sema4, a patient-centered health intelligence company, signed a lease in July for roughly 70,000 square feet of office and laboratory space – its second lab in Stamford – at 62 Southfield Ave. in the Harbor Landing area; it is expected to occupy the space in 2020. Harbor Landing is a mixed-use waterfront development offering 200,000 square feet of newly updated Class A office space with views of Long Island Sound, 218 newly constructed apartments, multiple restaurants, a full-service boatyard operated by The Hinckley Co., 120-slip marina and a boardwalk connected to Stamford’s Boccuzzi Park.
  • DaVita, the largest provider of kidney care services in the U.S., has leased 11,246 square feet of office space at 260 Long Ridge Road in Stamford for a kidney dialysis center, and will move into its new location in 2020. Located within the Long Ridge Health & Science complex, a 17.5-acre Class-A medical and office campus, the area is a prime location for medicine, biotech, wellness and research within the Stamford market. BLT rebranded the asset in 2016 and implemented an extensive capital improvement program to the buildings and grounds which included new lobbies, new and upgraded elevators, new HVAC and electrical, centralized bathroom facilities, a repaved parking area and new exterior lights.

Other major deals announced last year in Stamford include Charter Communications’ decision to add a second building to its still-under-construction new headquarters at 406 Washington Blvd. (the first building is due to open in 2021); Indeed leasing 24,000 square feet at 107 Elm St. in addition to its headquarters at 177 Broad St.; and, in what was the city’s largest leasing agreement, WWE’s signing a 16½-year lease for the 415,000-square-foot, three-building complex, once home to UBS, at 677 Washington Blvd. and selling its longtime Titan Towers global headquarters at 1241 E. Main St.

Such deals send the message that “Fairfield County is able to attract all these different industries,” Ferrarone said. “And we (BLT) have been lucky enough to attract our fair share of those.”

The much-ballyhooed millennial generation is driving much of the action, he affirmed. “The younger workforce is generally more tech-oriented, and they want to be somewhere that has that ‘live, work, play’ environment,” Ferrarone said. “And transportation plays into that – despite the traffic on 95, we have a pretty good transportation system here.”

While rush-hour trains from New York City to Stamford used to be half-empty, “These days they’re packed,” he said.

While Stamford’s position as a major real estate market has been secured for some time, Norwalk is also still growing, he said, and has the advantage of being “a little less expensive. But there’s more retail, nightlife, and apartment living taking place there than there ever has been, and there’s a huge diversity when it comes to demographics.”

Allowing that Norwalk has benefited somewhat from spillover from Stamford, Ferrarone said he believed a further ripple effect beyond those two cities – similar to the benefits Fairfield and Westchester counties are now seeing from their proximity to New York City – could evolve over time.

“One of the keys (for Stamford and Norwalk) is the train stations,” he said. “That just helps create the kinds of synergies that employers, employees and residents are all looking for right now.”