The Hour

John Hannigan, principal of Choyce Peterson, on Thursday, Feb. 15,2018, at the firm's offices in Norwalk, Conn.

In the second half of last year, Greenwich and Norwalk registered declines in the vacancy rates in major office buildings within their markets, according to a new study, while Stamford saw a slight increase.

Every six months, Choyce Peterson produces a floor-by-floor depiction of office occupancies and vacancies in nearly 80 big buildings in Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk, where the tenant representation firm has its own main office.

Choyce Peterson publishes a separate study in the spring and fall covering the eastern Fairfield County market. The graphics provide context for overall vacancy rates that equate to one in every four-square feet of office space idling, with the overall figure impacted by empty buildings like the former UBS offices in Stamford and Norden Park in Norwalk among others.

"Take those buildings out of the equation - as many will not lease to tenants less than 40,000 square feet - then we have a healthy market," principal John Hannigan said. "When large empty buildings become populated with a few tenants, it generates a vibrancy that creates momentum for other tenants to occupy those buildings ...which in turn puts some downward pressure on pricing in competing buildings."

Much of the Charter Communications headquarters at 400 Atlantic St. in Stamford has been put up for lease, as the cable giant looks ahead to construction of a new office adjacent to the Stamford Transportation Center. Multiple floors in the Stamford Plaza complex became available over the space of six months, at 263 Tresser Blvd., 301 Tresser Blvd. and 107 Elm St. Those changes pushed the vacancy rate up a percentage point in the Stamford offices included in the Choyce Peterson study to 35 percent at the close of 2017, with the Norwalk vacancy rate at 28 percent and Greenwich 21 percent.

Two Greenwich building shad substantive changes since the summer of 2017, as nearly 75,000 square fee tof space filled at Pickwick Plaza on Mason Street on leases by Interactive Brokers and others; and after Greenwich Hospital secured more than 50,000 square feet of space at 500 West Putnam Ave.

And in The Towers complex in Norwalk, the entirety of 45 Glover Ave. is now available after the exodus of Xerox, Aon and Bridgewater Associates.

Hannigan predicts active leasing in the first half of 2018 at 200 Elm St. in Stamford, which to date has drawn Henkel and the Tudor Investment hedge fund as major tenants and said overall market dynamics are healthy in lower Fairfield County.

"There are a reasonable number of companies looking for space in this market - several companies are expanding (and) they are trying to upgrade their space as well," Hannigan said. "Many landlords have been doing a good job of putting money into upgrades at their buildings, so now you see common areas such as lobbies and cafeterias that are more inviting and vibrant."