The $130 million sale of the Nyala Farms corporate center -- the largest real estate transaction in the town's history -- may be a key to keeping the Bridgewater Associates hedge fund from moving its headquarters out of town.
The property at 60 Nyala Farms Road was sold late Friday afternoon to 60 Nyala Farms Road LLC, an entity established by the Stamford-based developer, Building and Land Technology, which had been working with Bridgewater to build a new headquarters for the hedge fund on the Stamford waterfront.
The sales paperwork was filed shortly after Bridgewater officials announced Friday the hedge fund was backing out of a state-brokered deal to move most of its local operations to Stamford, despite $115 million in tax breaks and incentives.
BLT, a privately held real estate private equity, development and property management firm, confirming the corporate center acquisition Monday in a statement issued by Carl R. Kuehner III, the CEO, said: "We're pleased to expand our portfolio into Westport, which is home to a number of Connecticut's leading businesses. BLT is a Connecticut company, and the opportunity to acquire another market-leading property here is especially exciting for property here is especially exciting for us."
BLT had been trying to win approval for plans to build a new Stamford headquarters for Bridgewater since the project was announced By Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2012, but the proposal became mired in controversy over zoning issues in that city.
The Nyala Farms center, with five buildings on 53 acres in the Greens Farms section of town, had holdings assessed at $78,264,810 on the 2013 grand list, making it the town's second-largest taxpayer. Bridgewater Associates, which maintains its trading floor and other offices at Nyala Farms, is the town's single largest employer with real estate at 1 Glendinning Place assessed at $25,478,050, third-largest on last year's grand list.
In addition to Bridgewater, other tenants in the Nyala Farms complex include Terex, Morgan Stanley and RBC
A BLT spokesman could not say Monday whether its acquisition of Nyala Farms could pave the way for a larger Bridgewater presence at the complex.
A spokesman for Bridgewater said Monday, through the company's public relations agency, there is not necessarily any connection between the Westport land sale, and Bridgewater Associates' plan not to move to Stamford, even though both actions took place the same day.
"Bridgewater did not purchase the property. It was a totally different LLC," a spokeswoman from Bridgewater's public relations firm, Prosek Partners said Monday.
"They did not purchase it for Bridgewater. That is inaccurate," she said.
Bridgewater continues to pursue other options to the cancelled Stamford relocation plan, the spokeswoman indicated, but would not comment directly on whether any scenarios might include purchasing property or expanding operations in Westport.
Both Bridgewater's Glendinning campus and the Nyala Farms property -- two of the five Design Development Districts in town -- are now eligible to have upgrade and expansion plans carried out by their owners that had been restricted until earlier this year.
At the request of a lawyer representing Bridgewater, the Planning and Zoning Commission in March approved a proposal loosening the tight development restrictions that applied to the DDD districts since the zoning regulation was adopted in 1980.
The P&Z, in unanimously approving revisions to the DDD regulations, struck a compromise on the allowance for expanded coverage on the affected properties, cutting back the proposal to no more than a 10 percent increase from the 20 percent that Bridgewater sought.