By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer
Stamford, Conn. –The shift in the market is palpable. Developers are beginning to build condominiums again, and to accommodate the returning demand, Palmer Hill Partners has broken ground on the second phase of Palmer Hill, an upscale multifamily community in Stamford, Conn. The project will cost an estimated $23 million to complete.
Located at 77 Havemeyer Lane, bordering Old Greenwich, Palmer Hill occupies a 20-acre landscaped site accented by conservation areas. Designed to ultimately accommodate an aggregate 114 townhomes and 81 condominium residences, the property’s existing amenities include a 3,500-square-foot community clubhouse and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
Phase Two of the luxury community will bring online 16 townhomes spanning four blocks, and 27 garden condominiums occupying a single structure. Palmer Hill Partners–a joint venture involving Haddonfield, N.J.-based Buckingham Partners, Pawling, N.Y.-based Sun Homes and New York City-headquartered O’Connor Capital Partners, will spend $7 million to build the condominium building and $4 million for each of the four blocks of townhomes.
Featuring five different two- and three-bedroom plans above a single-level parking deck, the one-story condominiums will range in size from 1,200 to over 2,000 square feet, and are being marketed for approximately $500,000 to $800,000. Palmer Hill’s new townhomes, priced between $700,000 and $1 million, will be three-bedroom residences offering approximately 2,000 to 4,000 square feet of space and private two-car garages. Despite the crumbling of the housing market, the developer has not been forced to drastically slash prices since it began marketing the first 57 residences, which came online in 2009. “We’ve held pricing and have had the luxury of doing that because we’ve built in phases; we weren’t committed to building all at once,” Bob Dale, a partner of Palmer Hill Partners, tells MHN. “We’ve instituted some incentive programs, but by and large, we have held the pricing.”
So far, buyers do not appear to be dissuaded by the price tags attached to the Palmer Hill residences. “We opened for sale in early 2008 and through the end of 2009 we were at roughly 55 sales, but since the start of 2010, we’ve taken 20 new deals, so there was a pickup in the first half of 2010,” Dale says. Palmer Hill Partners has managed to receive FHA approval, which allows eligible homeowners to finance as much as 90 percent of the purchase price and closing costs. “I don’t know how many are using FHA, but we have not had a lot of problems with buyers not getting financing.”
Palmer Hill, offering easy access to Manhattan without the sky-high home costs, has quite a large pool of potential homeowners that it can tap into right now. “A lot of first-time buyers are moving out of Manhattan,” Dale notes. “Over the last 18 months, we’ve been getting young couples and singles who want to move from Manhattan to Fairfield County. There’s a diverse market and we have a diverse product.” As more fleeing Manhattan residents come into the county, Palmer Hill is well positioned to attract a nice percentage of them. “We are lucky in that there’s virtually no competition in the area. There’s little new construction, especially of garden-style condominiums, so even if the condo market isn’t fully back, we have the advantage of standing out in the market.”
The condominium market is, indeed, far from fully recovered, but Dale believes that additional demand for Palmer Hill residences and area condominiums, in general, is on the horizon. “This year, we want to see empty-nesters coming back to the market–that’s what we expect to see,” he says. “We think the market is getting a little bit better each day.”
As for the remaining development of the 20-acre Palmer Hill community, Palmer Hill Partners will soon be more than halfway there. Upon completion of the second phase, the property will be approximately 55 percent built out.