Fort Worth firm partners with Summit, Rizzo for large Connecticut office lease

The Summit at Danbury Central Atrium

A Fort Worth firm is part of a partnership that completed the largest office lease in Connecticut this year.

Summit Development of Southport and Crestline Investors of Fort Worth in partnership with the Rizzo Companies of Danbury, on Dec. 29 announced they have signed a lease with Nuvance Health Systems for 220,000 square feet at The Summit at Danbury, the one-time Union Carbide world headquarters.  The deal, the largest office lease in the state this year, will allow Nuvance to consolidate offices in Connecticut and bring 500 jobs from locations in New York.

The lease with Nuvance, formerly Western Connecticut Medical, is for 12 years and includes an option to expand up to 300,000 square feet. Nuvance operates seven hospitals in Connecticut and New York, including Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, and Putnam Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York. Its executive headquarters, back offices, labs and clinical facilities will be consolidated at The Summit.

Just two years ago, Summit Development President Felix T. Charney joined by Crestline and the Rizzo Companies, acquired the property in foreclosure and just 15 percent occupied, for $17 million. Renamed The Summit at Danbury, Charney implemented a reimagining and rebranding program to right size the building to include a mix of office, residential and educational uses. Numerous amenities including a restaurant, a new road for improved access and other significant capital improvements have already been made to the 40-year-old building.

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“The turnaround of this property that had been a beacon in Danbury for nearly 40 years has gone beyond what we could have imagined,” Michael Basile project manager said. “We have invested $20 million in improvements, and we have been blessed with robust commercial activity that has brought 12 new leases since our October 2018 acquisition, increasing occupancy from 20 percent to 41 percent. The Nuvance lease will bring office space occupancy to 80 percent and with their proposed further expansion we will be at 100 percent.”

Charney said, “This is not only a success for us, but it allows Nuvance to have a unified, centralized headquarters, and obviously, it is a major economic boost for the City of Danbury and the State of Connecticut. We could not be happier with this outcome.”

Crestline’s James Delaune said: “We are delighted that Nuvance has chosen The Summit as its new home. Our team has worked hard to restore visibility of this iconic Danbury property. Having Nuvance as the new anchor tenant will assure The Summit’s prominence as Danbury’s premier office and medical address.”

“The announcement of the agreement between The Summit and Nuvance Health is some of the best economic news we have seen this year. As Connecticut enters the holiday season, this is great news that we should all be celebrating,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “Summit Development has made a lasting commitment to Danbury and to the State of Connecticut through their investment in this property, and their new partnership with Nuvance Health, a healthcare institution which provides world-class care. This announcement is only the beginning, as I know it will serve as a catalyst for additional growth and development in Danbury.”

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Charney has made a specialty of turning around underperforming commercial properties in the Connecticut-New Yorkarea including repositioning the Norden Systems plant on I-95 in Norwalk to a mixed-use residential and office complex; converting the Handy & Harmon factory site in Fairfield to a retail center anchored by Whole Foods; and renovating the Yale Lock Building and The Maritime buildings on the waterfront in South Norwalk into stylish offices and apartments.

Charney noted that there is much more still to come at The Summit at Danbury. “We have the zoning in place that in December will allow us to begin creating 200 apartments in the building,” he said. “This is a creative approach could not have occurred without the cooperation of the City and its Planning and Zoning commissions and staff.

Designed by the architectural firm of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo, the unique building was constructed as Union Carbide’s corporate headquarters in the early 1980s at a cost of $450 million. In 2002, Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide and sold the building in 2006. In 2009, a new owner purchased the 1.2 million-square-foot hilltop building at 39 Old Ridgebury Road just off Interstate 84 Exit 1 just east of the New York State line in 2009. Converting it to multi-tenant office space and renaming it The Matrix, it enjoyed some leasing success. However, following the death of the owner six years later in an auto accident, the complex began losing tenants and eventually slipped into foreclosure.

When completed, The Summit at Danbury will have 600,000 square feet of Class A office space; 75,000 square feet of conference and event space; and 30,000 square feet of core services and amenities including Market Place Kitchen & Bar, Platinum Fitness, conference space and pool; 400 residential apartments; and a public school. 

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A team of Gerry Leeds, Maureen O’Boyle, Jim Fagan, Brian Scruton, Adam Klemick and Kathleen Fazioat Cushman & Wakefield assisted with the transaction.