So Long Hotel; Hello Apartments

Thomas MacMillan PhotoA developer has scrapped plans for a new downtown four-star hotel—and sold the building to a company looking to put more than 100 new apartments overlooking the Green. Estimated sales price: $13.5 million.

The building in question is the 11-story tower at 205 Church St. attached to the Wells Fargo (formerly Union Trust) bank at the corner of Church and Elm Streets.

A New York company called Hampshire Hotels & Resorts bought the 151,965 square-foot circa 1928 building (best known for its rooftop cupola) in 2009 for $10.5 million. It evicted a random collection of attorneys and other small businesses operating out of the rundown building’s offices in the hopes of updating the heating and ventilation systems, restoring the property to its former grandeur, and renovating it into a 150-room luxury hotel.

Four years later, the bank remains open, and the rest of the building remains closed and empty.

On March 28 a New York-based developer bought the building (or in effect took ownership) of 205 Church from Hampshire for a nominal $10, according to the warranty deed on file in the city land records. Sellers and buyers are not required to list actual sales prices on warranty deeds. But the documents do list the city conveyance tax, which in this case was $67,5000. That would indicate an approximate $13.5 million sales price.

The developer also obtained a $10 million mortgage from Captial One for the property, according to the land records.

The plan is to renovate the building to create “100-plus” market-rate apartments, according to Dana Collins of New York-based Cooper Square Realty, which will manage the property. “It’s going to have to be completely redone.”

She said she doesn’t yet have details about the project or when it will open.

Principals of Cooper Square Realty, including founder and CEO David Kuperberg, formed a separate limited-liability corporation called Cooper Church to buy the property.

The principals have met with city development officials to discuss their plans. They’re not seeking any government subsidies, according to city Economic Development Administrator Kelly Murphy.

“It’s exciting for us,” she said. “We all worked hard to get to the point where city doesn’t have to be involved [financially] in every deal” to attract developers. She cited a 136-apartment mixed-use project planned at the corner of Howe and Chapel as another example of the city attracting subsidy-free development.

The city has had a harder time luring a developer to a surface parking lot a block away at 10 Wall St. It invited bids to buy and develop the lot, then decided earlier this year that that bids all came in too low. It did succeed in selling lots in Wooster Square to a builder who plans to erect new homes.

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posted by: TheMadcap on April 18, 2013  4:49pm

Well, let’s hope they actually do something with it this time around vs just selling it to someone else in four years.

posted by: anonymous on April 18, 2013  5:01pm

This is fantastic news for New Haven.  New Haven desperately needs more housing of all types.

How long before the CCNE machine steps in to try to kill the project with Community Benefit Agreements or complaints about parking?

posted by: robn on April 18, 2013  7:49pm



posted by: Esbey on April 18, 2013  8:17pm

Anonymous, folks downtown already pay for parking so I hope that the “Free Parking is Basic Human Right” coalition won’t kill this one the way they killed off taxpaying development on State Street. 

If it goes through, it is good for downtown and good for taxpayers.

posted by: Enough Is Enough on April 18, 2013  8:44pm

Ten dollars from the developer, a ten million dollar mortgage from Capital One—there is an excellent example of why it might be a good idea not to bank at Capital One.

posted by: Winston on April 18, 2013  9:29pm

So the prior owner lost $10.5 million investing in New Haven?  And ten dollars was the price the a prime downtown property?  Not sure this is something to celebrate.  Rumor has it that last prospect left town when they learned that property taxes could consume 70% of the project’s net income.

posted by: Walt on April 19, 2013  7:07am

It is still one of the most impressive buildings in the area to me (along with the Hamden Town Hall and Hamden High School where the architect slipped in a tribute to his mom high on the front)

Its location plus the slight cutoff of the front corner and the cupola section on the top meld to make it look to me as if the Green is merely   Union Trust’s   front lawn,  whereas without those features it would be just a brick monstrosity.

Did not know it was now essentially vacant.  Hope it will be saved,

(Plus I can see my old office window near the top of the former New Haven Savings Bank Bldg across the Street)

posted by: westville man on April 19, 2013  8:42am

To previous posters;

The land records only show a nominal “consideration” amount on the deed- $10.  That does NOT mean that was the price paid.  If you look at the 10 mill mortgage that gives you a better idea of what was paid. But all NHI has to do is to look at the conveyance tax paid to the State and City and than back that into the purchase price- probably somewhere north of 10 million.

[Editor’s note: Thanks for that suggestion! Based on a $67,500 city conveyance tax, the sales price would have been $13.5 million.]

posted by: RR on April 19, 2013  9:34am

Enough is Enough and Winston,

You cannot necessarily infer that the developer lost $10 million investing in New Haven or that the property is worth $10. This was likely part of a larger transaction with a lender or development partner that involved transfer of building ownership in exchange for debt forgiveness, control of other properties/projects, or other non-monetary consideration (hence the $10 sales price). With regard to the Capital One mortgage, the amount of financing one can secure on a building is connected to the building’s value and income potential, not its sale price—so you would need to analyze the market value of the building to determine whether such a loan was prudent.

posted by: smackfu on April 19, 2013  9:42am

U-shaped building is good for offices, not so great for apartments or hotel.  Some of those apartments will basically have a view of a brick wall of other apartments.

posted by: TheMadcap on April 19, 2013  9:55am

Being expensive apartments right in the heart of downtown, I’d have to assume the developers would go around the building doing to make sure most apartments had some kind of decent view.

posted by: orphan on April 19, 2013  12:05pm

The Haunted Skyscraper! This is one of the most haunted buildings in America. I read about it on the BBC of all places. Many of the former business tenants of the old UT building were creeped out by this place after dark. Hmm,wonder how an apartment dweller will feel about things that go bump in the night?

posted by: Cinderella on April 19, 2013  2:42pm

Here’s the link to the article about 205 Church St being haunted;
Yay, another Luxury apartment building in a beautiful historic building. Why not? Boston is filled with them and it helps to stabilize downtown.
As to the partially blocked views, I’m sure the developer will figure that one out.
I lived in an apartment in The Eli with windows facing that building and, as to the howling and screaming winds, it is true. That wind tunnel between The Eli and Union Trust creates tremendous wind during any storm and the windows always shudder. At night it can be quite disturbing. But, I doubt if it has anything to do with ghosts. It’s just a natural disturbance.

posted by: IsaiahDCooper on April 22, 2013  4:54pm

I thought that Hampshire Hotels acquired 205 Church Street in 2005.  They started renovating the building in 2007 or 2008 long before they pushed all of the tenants (other than the bank) to leave in 2009.  I had my office there from 2004 until the end of October in 2009.  I was a sub-tenant, using space leased from the owners by the New Haven Executive Centre LLC.  I really like the building and, though I sometimes worked quite late, I never felt it was haunted.

posted by: tomago on April 23, 2013  5:31pm

Hopefully, the City of New Haven won’t do to this developer what they did to 360 State Street…BAIT AND SWITCH…when it came time for the real tax bill.  Forewarned is forearmed…if it’s not a Yale property, you are in for a fight with City Hall.