Owner weighs uses for former Union Carbide HQ: site's fate could be decided by year-end

BOB CHUVALA, FAIRFIELD COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL, OCTOBER 2, 2006
The 1.3-million-square-foot Corporate Center in Danbury may be moving closer to being sold later this year or early next, although the building’s owners are still weighing other options for the property.
“No decision has been made, and probably none will be made until after the first of the year,” said Richard Reeves, president of Sunbelt Management Co. in Delray Beach, Fla. The privately held real estate investment firm acquired the former Union Carbide headquarters in 1986; Carbide, which was later bought by Dow Chemical, signed a master lease for the building that expires at year-end.
“We’re still talking to people about leasing, still talking about people developing the site,” Reeves said, and “have contacted a number of people we believe could be interested in buying the building.” The building is surrounded by 100 acres with two sites, each of which are capable of supporting 100,000 square feet of office space.
“In certain markets, there are core buyers who like to buy very stable, fully leased properties,” he said. “Other buyers are willing to take a little bit more risk for the upside potential” of fully leasing the building over time.
“There are a variety of buyers, from some who like a building fully leased, some who like it vacant. This falls in between. We’re still reviewing our options,” he said. One would be to keep the building and develop the site itself. “We’re running our own financial analysis to see the long-term value of holding it and the potential for the development sites,” he said.
The building is about 65 percent leased, and has 350,000 square feet available for lease, said Leroy Diggs, facilities manager for Dow.
The largest long-term tenant is the privately held German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, with 320,000 square feet. Boehringer has a sprawling campus of its own just a half-mile up Old Ridgebury Road, the headquarters of its U.S. operations. The next largest tenant is Praxair Inc., the largest industrial gases company in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide, which leases 204,000 square feet for its global headquarters.
The Carbide headquarters was built to hold 3,000 employees. By the end of this year, the building should have about 1,850 employees, Diggs said.

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