Mixed-Use Project Lands Largest Connecticut Office Lease of 2020

Nuvance Health Systems committed to 220,000 square feet at The Summit at Danbury.
The Summit at Danbury. Image courtesy of Summit Development

Summit Development and co-development partners Crestline Investors and the Rizzo Cos. have signed Nuvance Health Systems to 220,000 square feet of Class A office space at The Summit at Danbury, the partners’ 1.2 million-square-foot, mixed-use redevelopment project in Danbury, Conn. The commitment marks the largest Connecticut office lease agreement of 2020.

Carrying the address of 100 Reserve Road, The Summit consists of a central structure made larger by 15 connected pods that flank the rectangular structure’s east and west sides. Per terms of the lease agreement, Nuvance has the option to expand by an additional 80,000 square feet for a total of 300,000 square feet.

The deal paves the way for a major change for Nuvance, allowing the health-care company to relocate and consolidate its executive headquarters, back offices, labs and certain clinical facilities from locations in New York, including a 60,000-square-foot office space at Taconic Crossings in Lagrangeville, in the Hudson Valley area.

The Summit at Danbury, central atrium. Image courtesy of Summit Development

Nuvance’s lease at The Summit ends one of the office-market trends seen across Fairfield County, if not the entire U.S., much of the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Larger tenants with more bureaucratic decision-making processes and complex occupancy models have remained in a wait-and-see mode and continue to forego long-term leasing commitments,” according to a third quarter 2020 report by CBRE.

Summit and its joint venture partners relied on Cushman & Wakefield’s Gerry Leeds, Maureen O’Boyle, Jim Fagan, Brian Scruton, Adam Klemick and Kathleen Fazio for representation in the lease transaction. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed; however, Cushman & Wakefield’s website lists space at The Summit for $18.50 per square foot.

Nuvance will set up shop for 500 employees at its new location. Should the company exercise its expansion option, the approximately 600,000-square-foot office segment at the Summit will be 100 percent leased.

From office to live-work-play

Summit, Crestline and Rizzo have a vision for The Summit set to transform the distinctive Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates-designed complex—originally built as the corporate headquarters for Union Carbide at a cost of $450 million in 1982—into a live-work-play destination under a single roof.

Summit and partners came into possession of the 100-acre campus in 2018, acquiring the property out of foreclosure for just $17 million nine years after it had been converted into a multitenant office location known as The Matrix. At the time of the purchase two years ago, The Summit was just 15 percent occupied, with a limited future in the market.

As Summit and partners noted in their master-plan overview, “It became clear from a marketing standpoint that single-tenant Fortune 500 corporate headquarters on large properties are a thing of the past, and there simply is not a sufficient, sustainable market for 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space in one location.” The ownership pointed to General Electric’s 2016 announcement of its global headquarters relocation from neighboring Fairfield, Conn., to Boston as a prime example.

Upon completion of the reimagining and right-sizing endeavor, The Summit will also feature a new central atrium, 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant offerings, 75,000 square feet of conference and event space, the $75 million Danbury Career Academy public school for middle and high school students, as well as 400 apartments. The partners have already invested in significant capital improvements at the property.