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WESTPORT, CT-Cushman & Wakefield of Connecticut reports it has brokered a lease for 17,070 sf at 285 Riverside Ave. here with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.The J. Philip Bender Agency, a division of Northwestern Mutual, will relocate from 535 Connecticut Ave. in Norwalk to the four-floor, 54,000-sf building on Riverside Avenue that at one time served as the corporate headquarters for Marketing Corp. of America.

C&W associate director Gregory Frisoli and senior director John Gray along with Marc Lewis and David Welsh of Riverside Investors represented the building ownership in the transaction. CB Richard Ellis’ Jackie Pinyan-Durels represented Northwestern Mutual.

Riverside Investors is the owner of 285 Riverside Ave. and the adjoining Riverside Buildings complex, which consists of five freestanding, two-story, 10,000-sf buildings, and 355 Riverside Ave. Riverside Investors is a joint venture of Lexham Private Investors of Stamford and Normandy Realty Partners of Morristown, NJ, which purchased the 145,190-sf complex in April 2003 for approximately $37 million. The complex is 100% leased, but existing tenants have put some space at the complex on the market for sublease, according to C&W’s Frisoli.

“The Riverside Buildings and 285 Riverside Ave. offer small to midsize tenants the opportunity of having their own building on an exclusive waterfront property in Westport,” Frisoli says. “It is a rare opportunity for such a large block of space with these exceptional water views to come available in Westport.”

He notes that further leases are pending at the seven-building Riverside Avenue complex, with 23,000 sf of space with water views still available for lease.

Officials with Riverside Investors relate that 285 Riverside Ave. is undergoing a capital upgrade that includes renovations to the building’s lobby, elevator cabs and common areas and is being redeveloped for multi-tenant use. “There is a lack of and a demand for class A-office buildings in Westport, especially for smaller tenants,” Lewis says. “The reaction to the common-area redesign and multi-tenancy plan has been extremely positive.”

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