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BRIDGEPORT, CT-Dirt has been turned on a new condominium/retail project at 323 Fairfield Ave. in the heart of the downtown district here. Officials with Bijou Square LLC, the developer of the venture, report the development will bring 84 luxury condominiums priced between $225,000 to $350,000 to the city by the end of 2008.

The project also calls for seven commercial/retail opportunities totaling approximately 10,000 sf in a five-story building on a nearly one-acre site. The development is being built on the site of a former private “pocket” park and when all is said in done will involve a private investment of approximately $28 million. The property was purchased by Bijou Square LLC from Lafayette Square Associates in April of this year. Bijou Square Associates is a real estate development firm that represents an equal partnership between the Bridgeport-based Kuchma Family Co. and Kurt Hersher of Easton, CT-based K.B. Hersher Holdings.

The 323 Fairfield Ave. site is an extension of the firm’s Bijou Square development. Currently, the firm owns 277 Fairfield Ave., the Jennings Building, a 22,000-sf office building, the Bijou Theatre at 275 Fairfield Ave., as well as 262, 274 and 323 Fairfield Ave. along with 166 Elm St. and 307 Golden Hill St. The properties are being developed into retail shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and condominium and rental housing. The Bijou Theatre, originally constructed in 1910, is currently under renovation. When work is completed, the facility will feature independent and art films and seat up to 210 patrons. There will also be two smaller screening rooms that will seat 71 and 42, which company officials say will highlight the work of local artists and be available for corporate rentals. Earlier this month, Bijou Square LLC reported it had acquired 307 Golden Hill St., a 10,250-sf former American Legion building originally constructed in 1850 that is located directly across the street from Bridgeport City Hall. The building has been vacant for six years and has fallen into disrepair. No financial details on the 307 Golden St. transaction were released.

In discussing the firm’s plans at 323 Fairfield Ave. Philip Kuchma, partner, Bijou Square LLC, says, “We are excited to expand the Bijou Square development with this new homeownership opportunity and construction is already underway. Best of all, our vision for Bijou Square is consistent with the direction the city has mapped out in the new Downtown Master Plan.”

The condominium units at 323 Fairfield Ave. will be either one or two-bedroom units ranging in size from 815 sf to 1,300 sf. Each unit will offer nine-foot ceilings, central air conditioning, hardwood floors, ceramic tile bathrooms and Energy Star appliances.

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