Bridgeport’s Downtown North sees progress with opening of Security building
BRIDGEPORT — It’s not easy to estimate how quickly a new apartment building will become fully leased. “It’s like an election — you never know,” said Kim Morque, principal at Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.
On Wednesday the Spinnaker staff, its partners and city and state officials celebrated the opening of the Harral Security Wheeler development on Main Street. The first project to be redeveloped in what is known as Downtown North, the 70 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments in the eight-story building are already 40 percent leased.
“We’re off to a good start,” Morque said.
Spinnaker, in a joint venture with the Trefz Corp., recently completed its adaptive reuse of the former office building that dates to 1904. Morque said most of the building was gutted and the work included the addition of a new staircase.
Uncovered during the redevelopment were several surprises, including an elaborate pattern engraved in cast iron around the main entrance of the building. The pattern had been hidden in a 1970s-era renovation.
Enclosing the building’s atrium with glass partitions to contain smoke in case of a fire was also a major project, Morque said, adding that city building inspectors were on the site monitoring the progress constantly. “You can believe this is the safest and most compliant building in all of Bridgeport and probably Connecticut and all America,” Morque said, with a laugh.
The Housing Development Fund was the first commercial tenant to move into the building. “It’s a great space,” said Catherine Halstead, senior leads manager for the organization, adding that the site sees plenty of foot traffic.
City Lights Gallery, which is in a temporary space at 855 Main St., is slated to move into the complex next year. The building has multiple commercial spaces available.
“We’re looking for small businesses — professional firms, design firms; the local architect or engineer would be terrific,” Morque said. “We didn’t really set the spaces up for food or restaurants. We think there’s enough food or restaurants downtown now so we want to make sure those stay vibrant.”
The mixed-use building adds housing options to a neighborhood that has seen its residential population triple over the last decade. It’s also the first long-vacant building to be occupied in the Downtown North area, which contains a half-dozen or so dilapidated structures.
The Security building contains amenities including a rooftop patio and fitness center. Studio rents range from $950 to $1,200, one-bedroom unit rents are between $1,100 and $1,500 and the two-bedrooms are going for $1,400 to $1,800.
“This hopefully is the catalyst that is going to move everything happening in the south end (of the downtown) to the north,” said Thomas Gill, the city’s economic development director.
Gill said residents and visitors downtown will see more activity in Downtown North next year. He said the Jayson-Newfield buildings, under development by Urban Green Builders, will close on its financing by the end of the year and the work already started will move forward quickly.
Next to that is what is known as the Preservation Block, where Spinnaker is finalizing its plans. A tulip museum next to the Harral Wheeler Security buildings should be completed next year.
Helen Muñiz, community development specialist for the state Department of Housing, which funded part of the $21 million price tag on the Security project, said she was impressed by the results. “I know what it takes to undergo a gut rehab,” she said. “This is a good day for Bridgeport.”