SOUTH NORWALK, CT-A significant piece of the retail fabric of this section of the city has changed hands. An entity controlled by Stamford-based F.D. Rich Co. has acquired a total of 28 retail/restaurant storefronts on South Main Street and Washington Boulevard here.

TR SONO Partners LLC, an entity controlled by F.D. Rich, purchased the South Norwalk Retail Portfolio of Madison Tower LLC for $24.6 million. Madison Tower is controlled by New York City-based Blackrock Inc. and Madison Marquette of Washington, DC.

Thomas Rich, president and COO of F.D. Rich, tells that the deal is valued at approximately $286 a sf and traded at a 5.8% cap rate based on in-place income. The portfolio was 78% leased at the time of the sale with a majority of the tenants paying below market rents. It consists of 61,146 sf of retail and 24,916 sf of office. The deal was brokered by Jeffrey Dunne, Dean Matus and Matthew Innes of CB Richard Ells’ New York Institutional Group, which represented the seller and procured the purchaser.

“In a single acquisition, F.D. Rich Co. acquired a significant critical mass of street retail in South Norwalk,” Dunne says. “The portfolio is a value-add opportunity through lease-up of well-positioned vacant retail spaces. Their hands-on approach and local presence should ensure they fare very well with this investment.”

Rich says that the uniqueness of the properties, built in the mid 1800s that is located in the heart of the South Norwalk district, is what attracted his firm to the portfolio. He adds that F.D. Rich “thinks the future of Norwalk and South Norwalk are very bright.”

The deal also marks the re-entrance of F.D. Rich to the city. The firm had owned several office properties in Norwalk, but exited the market in September 2007 with the sale of 131 Rowayton Ave., a 9,000-sf office building it sold for $7 million. Rich adds that his firm is currently interviewing real estate brokers in the area to serve as exclusive leasing agent for the available retail space in the portfolio. At present, there are four storefront vacancies ranging in size from 1,000 sf to 6,000 sf.

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