Aug. 18--Less than a month after acquiring the former Perkin Elmer property on the Norwalk-Wilton town line, Greenwich-based National RE/Sources has started a $50 million renovation of the sprawling 402,000-square-foot main building.
National RE/Sources has hired the Stamford office of Cushman & Wakefield, a national commercial real estate broker, to market the building, which is being converted into Class A office space.
The developer has given itself an ambitious schedule for the project, called i.park Norwalk, and plans to complete it in six months.
An addition the main building will be razed, reducing the project to slightly less than 400,000 square feet, said Lynne Ward, vice president of leasing at National RE/Sources.
Interest in the project is so high, Ward said, that she has set up a leasing office at the complex on the west bank of the Norwalk River at 761 Main Ave., in Norwalk.
Ward is used to the challenge of reviving industrial structures, and previously worked in conjunction with other Cushman & Wakefield offices.
National RE/Sources relied on the Cushman & Wakefield's New York City staff from 2000 to 2003 to market the old Lockheed Martin plant in Lake Success, N.Y., a 1.4-million-square-foot complex it redeveloped with Apollo Real Estate Advisors at a cost of $100 million.
"We buy older facilities steeped in history," said Ward. National RE/Sources has transformed former commercial sites into i.parks in Wiscassett, Maine, Edgewater, N.J., Yonkers, N.Y., and Tarrytown, N.Y.
The resulting buildings are renovated to be intelligent in design and infrastructure -- thus the "i" -- and energy efficient, according to Ward.
The former Perkin Elmer building, which has an auxiliary generator to cut the risk of power failures, can be subdivided into spaces of 10,000 square feet and up, said Maureen O'Boyle, a senior director at Cushman & Wakefield's Stamford office. O'Boyle is marketing the building along with Gerard Lees.
Calling the project a "blockbuster development," Lees said iPark Norwalk will attract a diverse tenant base because of its location, value, amenities and accessibility to a large, qualified labor pool.
O'Boyle estimated it will take six weeks to three months to fit-out a space for a business, depending on the size.
The arrival of iPark Norwalk will increase the amount of Class A office space in Fairfield County, which had a vacancy rate of 16.3 percent as of June 30, down from 16.7 percent in the first quarter and 20.2 percent in the second quarter of the year.
O'Boyle, however, voiced optimism about the prospects for iPark Norwalk, noting that rents will be in the range of $21.50 per square foot, 25 percent below area market levels.
According to a report by commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, the average rent in the second quarter in Norwalk was $33.97 and $31.20 in the county as a whole.
"This is going to be a beautiful corporate campus at the intersection of the Merritt Parkway and Route 7," O'Boyle said. "We're targeting growing companies and companies whose leases are ending."
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