04 Jan Stamford apartment boom shows no signs of slowing
STAMFORD — The city keeps building — and selling — apartment towers.
The $90 million sale
last month of the approximately 240-unit Infinity property in the South End’s Harbor Point development marked the latest in a series of eight- and nine-figure deals in recent years. Those transactions highlight investor and tenant confidence in a segment of the housing market that is driving population growth and also expanding the base of potential buyers for single-family homes.
“Harbor Point is like a city within a city — and those buildings are filling up as fast as they build them,” said Tammy Felenstein, Stamford-based executive director of sales for real estate brokerage Halstead. “We’re seeing no signs of a tapering off in demand for apartment living.”
Clarion Partners sold Infinity about six-and-a-half years after it acquired the property for approximately $99 million from a joint venture between Harbor Point developer Building and Land Technology and Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds.
In the previous sale of Harbor Point apartment buildings, BLT sold five towers to Manhattan-based Gaia for nearly $400 million in December 2016. That transaction represented the city’s largest property sale of the past 10 years.
Based at 1 Elmcroft Road in the South End, BLT still owns a number of the Harbor Point apartment blocks.
“For us, we’re excited to meet with the new (Infinity) owners,” said BLT Co-President Ted Ferrarone. “We’re glad that they want to join the Harbor Point community.”
Elsewhere in the city, apartments continued to change hands last year.
The downtown apartment complex at 50 Forest St. was sold for $105 million in the third quarter of 2019.
Late spring saw the $50 million sale of the Baypointe apartment complex, at 112 Southfield Ave., in the city’s Waterside section.
In early spring, the downtown Stamford Corners complex, at 1455 Washington Blvd., sold for $60 million.
Since the inception of the mixed-use Harbor Point development in 2009, BLT has built more than 3,400 units there.
The north tower of its newest property, the 435-unit Allure, opened last year at 850 Pacific St., a block south of Infinity. Construction is finishing up on the south tower.
Allure followed the 2018 launch of the 218-unit Harbor Landing complex and the 2017 debut of the 392-unit NV building.
At 880 Pacific and 900 Pacific, BLT has broken ground on apartment towers that will hold a total of 615 apartments. Building work at those sites is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
The construction parallels Stamford’s robust corporate growth, which is highlighted by projects such as Charter Communications’ under-construction 500,000-square-foot headquarters at 406 Washington Blvd., and WWE’s plan to relocate its main offices by early next year to 677 Washington Blvd.
Those properties stand next to the downtown Metro-North Railroad station and blocks from the Harbor Point apartments.
At Harbor Landing, the offices include an under-construction lab for genomic-testing firm Sema4 that is scheduled to open later this year.
“We’re excited about the job growth in and around the train station, with Charter Communications and WWE moving in,” Ferrarone said. “We’re hopeful that the apartments are a real asset for those corporations looking to grow here in Stamford. You can live down here and walk up to work and the train.”
In downtown Stamford, several thousand apartments have been built in the past decade.
Openings in the past few years have included the Urby apartments at the former “hole in the ground” site on Greyrock Place; Atlantic Station on Atlantic Street; Element One on Morgan Street; Summer House and 66 Summer on Summer Street; and Vela on the Park on Washington Boulevard.
The building will not soon abate.
In the third quarter of last year, more than 5,400 apartments were under development throughout the city, according to the Stamford Office of Economic Development.
Fueled by the burgeoning apartment inventory, Stamford’s population rose by 6 percent between 2010 and 2018, to approximately 130,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
When the numbers from the 2020 U.S. Census are released, Stamford could surpass New Haven to become the state’s second-most populous city, after Bridgeport.
At the same time, apartments are spurring population growth in Fairfield County’s other cities. Between 2010 and 2018, the county’s residency increased 3 percent, to about 944,000.
BLT has also developed a total of about 600 units at its Curb at North 7 and One Glover properties in Norwalk. Curb at North 7’s second building opened in the fourth quarter of 2019.
In the county’s towns, apartment and condominium construction is limited — due in large part to local planning and zoning regulations that preclude large projects.
New multifamily housing in towns such as Greenwich tends to entail the redevelopment of existing buildings or building on lots in or near central business districts.
Attracting tenants — and potential homeowners
Occupancy in BLT’s Harbor Point buildings is averaging about 95 percent, according to the company.
While those apartments and others throughout Stamford and neighboring cities see frequent resident turnover, they also have attracted many long-term tenants.
Theresa “Terry” Rogers has lived with her husband at Infinity since 2015. In 2018, Rogers opened Harbor Point Wines & Spirits a couple of blocks away at 130 Washington Blvd.
“The upkeep at Infinity for the time we’ve been there has been superb,” said Rogers, who just signed a new lease at Infinity. “You put a call in for something, and they’re there right away.”
Many residential real estate brokerages, meanwhile, are hoping that the apartment growth will eventually help to revive the area’s still-sluggish single-family housing sector.
“I don’t think developments like Harbor Point are competition at all,” Felenstein said. “I think of them as a tremendous launching pad for, down the line, when those tenants’ lifestyle needs change, and they’re looking to become homeowners.”
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