The town’s plan to purchase an Elm Street office building to house the Board of Education will pay for itself in five years as part of it is sold off to investors who will convert part of the structure into condominiums.
Two investors are working with the town in its $6.1 purchase of 220 Elm St. and “we are going to ‘condominium-ize’ the building,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said during the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting Monday.
“We are effectively selling the units to the private investors, which helps in terms of giving us independence in terms of the price that we are achieving,” he said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “So because we own the land and we are ending the ground lease, the transaction as a whole is something the independent investors have had to make their own decision as to purchasers. But we are effectively turning around buying the building from the bank and immediately re-selling pieces of it to the other two investors.”
The Board of Education must sign off on the plan to move its offices from a longtime location on Locust Avenue, and then the Board of Finance and Town Council must approve bonding for the purchase, Moynihan said.
Selectman Nick Williams praised Moynihan on putting together the transaction, recalling that he spoke with former First Selectman Jeb Walker more than one decade ago trying to get the Board of Ed out of its rented space.
“We have disagreed on occasion on a few things, including the Police Department at Saxe, but this is a great deal that you have constructed and I really mean that,” Williams said. “We are providing our Board of Education, whom we all love, with ‘Class A’ office space.”
Referring to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi, he added, “I think it’s suffice to say Bryan—superintendent Luizzi—is over the moon about this space. It’s just fantastic. It meets all of the needs of the BOE including the LAUNCH program, and we are doing this for less than $2 million, and getting 54% of the building, which is an incredible building and that’s because if you value the $3 million, 99-year lease that we are contributing, essentially, right? This is a great deal.”
He added, “Kudos to Kevin for making it happen.”
Together with Selectmen Kathleen Corbet, Moynihan and Williams voted 3-0 in favor of retaining Stamford-based law firm Carmody, Torrance, Sandak and Hennessey LLP to represent the town in connection with its purchase of 220 Elm St., and also in favor of an approximately $15,000 contract with Pleasantville, N.Y.-based Savin Engineers to inspect the building prior to execution of the purchase-and-sale agreement.
The 2002-built, two-story building sits on a .73-acre parcel of land owned by the town. Bankwell owns the building, though the bank itself has moved into the former Unimen building at Elm and Grove Streets (consolidating its branch operations at its Cherry Street location).
Two years ago, Moynihan said he’d discussed selling the property. The building last was assessed at $6,094,620.
Town and Board of Ed officials for years have studied alternatives to New Canaan Public Schools administrators leasing space in the Locust Avenue office building at a cost of about $330,000-plus per year.
Moynihan said during Monday’s meeting, “I would also address the point that someone thinks we can put the Board of Ed elsewhere, like in Waveny House. And there really aren’t those possibilities. I mean, Irwin House could not be converted to Board of Education offices, nor Waveny House. This is a unique opportunity when something like 220 comes along to be able to accommodate the Board of Education.”