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Developers seek to transform former office spaces into housing

Downtown plans: Developers seek to convert old business structures to apartments

STAMFORD — As part as an ongoing redevelopment trend in Stamford, two obsolete office buildings downtown may find new life as housing complexes.

The city’s Zoning Board is reviewing two separate applications that, if approved, would create a total of 37 residential units in two former office spaces.

Mario Lodato, a downtown commercial property owner, is seeking to redevelop a five-story, 27,000-square-foot building at 460 Summer St. into 21 residential units.

 Similarly, Randy Salvatore, a developer who previously partnered with Seaboard Properties on a $25 million apartment conversion of an office tower at 100 Prospect St., is vying to turn a two-story, 21,000-square-foot office building at 1200 Bedford St. into 16 housing units.

Both projects were presented during a public hearing last week at the Government Center.

“This is very consistent with the master plan which for years has been trying to get more people downtown and get more vibrancy,” John Leydon, an attorney representing Lodato, told zoning board members.

Over the years, smaller, aging Class B and C office buildings have struggled to find tenants, making their transformation into residences viewed as smart adaptive reuses.

According to the city’s land use bureau, the pace of such projects has picked up over the past six years. Since 2005, there have been at least six office-to-residential conversions in the downtown.

The two buildings currently under consideration are roughly 40 years old. The structure at 460 Summer St. dates back to 1967 and was the former home of the YWCA, while the one at 1200 Bedford St. was constructed during the 1970s. The latter, which is located in a residential zone, was one of a handful of developments in the downtown designed solely to house small professional tenants such as lawyers, accountants and doctors.

Salvatore is set to purchase the building at 1200 Bedford St. next week for an undisclosed sum. He estimated the cost of redevelopment as roughly $4 million. “We’re keeping the shell, but it’s basically going to be a new building,” he said.

In the right setting, conversions can be attractive, cost-efficient investments.

“Typically a lot of the older buildings are located in good areas,” Salvatore said. “They were very well built but now are tired and the uses that are there are not suited to the market.”

Beginning in 1994, the city began amending zoning rules to loosen density restrictions and reduce affordable housing requirements for conversion projects. Rather than the usual 10 percent, only 6 percent of units must be below-market rate housing.

“It seems to be right on the market,” said Norman Cole, the city’s principal planner and acting land use bureau chief. “There’s a lot of property out there that wants to be converted.”

Staff Writer Elizabeth Kim can be reached at elizabeth.kim@scni.com or 203-964-2265.

P 203.968.2313
F 203.968.2341

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