Project of the Month: Northeast Retail Leasing and Management Co. to redevelop 55,000 s/f University Plaza in Willimantic

April 27, 2018 - Retail

Willimantic, CT In August of 2017 Northeast Retail Leasing and Management Company, LLC closed on the purchase of 1315 Main St., a 55,000 s/f shopping center in the prime central business district and retail area. Based on their experience with redeveloping the East Brook Mall  in nearby Mansfield, Conn., Northeast knew that Willimantic is the regional shopping hub for the ten surrounding middle and upper middle income towns. Northeast was well aware of the limited number of retail vacancies in the market and the difficulties that retailers have finding premium quality space. With no new retail construction planned in Willimantic it made sense for Northeast to reposition an existing asset to create an opportunity for several new retailers seeking space in this regional market. 

Surrounding the shopping center is a Stop & Shop Supermarket, Windham Hospital and Eastern Connecticut State University. The property consists of a 50,000 s/f retail building and three outparcels with access from a signalized entrance on Main St. which has the highest traffic count in the town.

History of the Property

The property was originally built in the early 1960s as the region’s first Stop & Shop Supermarket. As time passed the Stop & Shop building underwent an expansion with the addition of a Medi-Mart, which later became Walgreens Pharmacy. Over the years three outparcels were added which are currently occupied by AT&T, The Fish Market and the Oriental Café.

Purchase and Approvals

Northeast was represented by Attorneys Allan Koerner and Elizabeth Strole of Rome Clifford Katz and Koerner in the closing of the sale.  Civil engineers for the project were  Ben Wheeler and Peter DeMallie of Design Professionals, Inc. Environmental consulting services were provided by GeoQuest of Bloomfield Conn.

Today/Access Agency

The seller, Access Community Action Agency who previously occupied office and clinical space in the front of the building, relocated to the rear into 12,000 s/f of newly constructed office space.  Their new offices and dedicated parking field now front Valley St. The relocation has allowed Northeast to create prime retail space that is approximately 100’ deep at the front of the building. 

Property Today/Planet Fitness

University Plaza will soon be anchored by Planet Fitness which plans to open in late summer. Planet’s interest was sparked by the regional trade area, the proximity of Eastern Connecticut State University and the campus of Windham Hospital which are both adjacent to the center. As one of the largest fitness centers in the U.S., Planet Fitness attracts members in the key 25-45 year old demographic.

The center in the early 1960s

Property Today/Future

Presently, 20,000 s/f of retail space remains available which includes the endcap at the signalized main entrance. 

A visit to the center today reveals a redevelopment project fully underway. Darin Senna of Hartford Sign & Design redesigned and fabricated a new pylon sign while general contractor, Orlando Annuli and Sons is constructing a new façade, storefronts, new mechanical systems and interior fit outs. 

Site contractor Koss Construction of Colchester Conn. recently completed construction of a dedicated parking lot for the Access Agency including new curbing, drainage, dumpster pads and the construction of a new ATM pad for The Savings Institute. A new EPDM roofing system will be installed by Capital Roofing of North Haven Connecticut.

The transformation is well underway and over the next few months, University Plaza will again be an important and vibrant shopping center in the region.

University Plaza Project Team:

Northeast Retail Leasing and Management Company, LLC - Developer/Leasing

Orlando Annulli & Sons, Inc. - General Contractor

Koss Construction LLC - Site Contractor 

Design Professionals - Civil Engineer/Surveyor

GeoQuest, Inc. - Environmental Engineer

Hartford Sign & Design - Sign Contractor

Capital Roofing - Roofing Contractor 

Rome Clifford Katz & Koerner, LLP - Legal Counsel





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