Winstanley to buy New Haven Frontier properties



NEW HAVEN Carter Winstanley has a deal to buy a garage and office building adjacent to his medical lab building on George Street.

The sale of the four-story, 480-car garage and the adjacent three-story former Southern New England Telephone Co. data center, is before the state Public Utility Regulatory Authority for review.

Approval of the $20 million sale by PURA of excess property at 340-350 George St., now owned by Frontier Communications, is necessary before the transaction can go through.

Winstanley Enterprises is a major developer in New Haven, starting with 300 George St., which is filled with research labs, mainly connected to Yale University.

It also is the developer of 100 College Street, a 14-story structure that will serve as the headquarters for Alexion Pharmeceuticals and bring 700 to 800 workers to New Haven.

Michael Coyle, spokesman for PURA, said it could take until late September or early October before questions asked by its technical and legal staff, as well as the Office of Consumer Counsel, are answered on the sale. Within that timeframe, there might be a hearing, draft rulings and opportunities to comment before a proposed final ruling.

Frontier Communications confirmed in May that it was selling off non-essential holdings. The company bought ATT’s landline telephone network and its U-Verse television system for $2 billion in October 2014.

In addition to the garage and switching station, Frontier is selling a parking lot that extends along Audubon, Orange, State and Grove streets, across from the FBI building on one side and facing Elm City Communities headquarters on the other side.

It is listed in the assessor’s office as 335-367 Orange St./29 Audubon St. and is of major interest to city officials for its development potential.

Elizabeth Godbout, spokeswoman for Frontier, said the Orange Street property and the George Street properies do not impact the firm’s delivery of services.

She said they also have a buyer for the Orange-Audubon site, but she can’t talk about it publically yet.

The purchaser of the George Street properties is WE Acquisitions LLC, which has a notification address of Winstanley Enterprises in Concord, Massachusetts.

Carter Winstanley could not be reached for comment Friday.

Frontier has two appraisals for the George Street properties. Wellspeak, Dugas Kane LLC of Cheshire said the office building and parking garage on 2.7 acres is worth $14,800,000.

Arnold Grant Associates came in with a market value of $15.2 million, but said it could bring $18.35 million from an abutter.

The firm suggested the best use is development as a residential or biotech or hospital/medical use.

Matthew Nemerson, city economic development administrator, said he was “delighted” by Winstanley’s interest in the George Street properties, “but not surprised.”

“Given Carter’s leadership and investment in 300 George Street and the Alexion properties, this makes sense for him strategically. He almost had no choice but to buy the garage,” he said. Nemerson said he hadn’t been in the office building in decades.

As for the Orange-Audubon property, when asked what he had heard about a buyer, Nemerson said: “All good things.”

“We have had preliminary contact and a good conversation and if everything goes as well as it could, it could be a very exciting project,” Nemerson said.

Utilities reportedly can’t dispose of undeveloped land without the permission of the town where they are located and the city was hoping for some input on the deal.

In any event, Nemerson felt those concerns were now “moot,” given their contact with the likely buyer.

“We’re delighted with the buyer, we have had a great meeting with them and it is all good,” he said.

Earlier this year, the economic development administrator talked about the need to maximize development of that 1.17-acre site in order to maximize the city’s tax base. He hopes it is built out as densely as possible and likely needs to be rezoned to BD1 if it is going to be housing in order to allow for a higher floor-area ratio.

“(A)s a community we really need to have more density especially on sites that don’t have a high water table where we might have underground parking,” Nemerson said in an earlier interview.

Article source: http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20150731/winstanley-to-buy-new-haven-frontier-properties

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