'Hands on' investor buys Stop & Shop plaza
The Stop & Shop Plaza on Route 7 South in New Milford has a new owner.
Regional real estate investor Willing Biddle has purchased the property for $22.5 million through his company, Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc. of Greenwich.
"We bought it two weeks ago," Mr. Biddle said Monday, from a leasing convention in Las Vegas. "We like the New Milford area and think it has potential for significant growth with the expansion of Route 7."
Mr. Biddle purchased Veterans Plaza -- home of Big Y -- in New Milford more than a year ago and said it is partly due to the success of that purchase he decided to further invest in New Milford.
He was in Las Vegas Monday talking to major retailers from across the country.
With properties throughout Fairfield County and Westchester, Putnam and Bergen counties in New York and New Jersey, Mr. Biddle had an eye for businesses to fill several sites. And finding tenants for two, now vacant, storefronts in the New Milford Stop & Shop plaza was on his list of priorities.
"We'd like to get national stores in," he said. "New Milford could use a clothing store," he thought outloud.
The national clothing chain, Fashion Bug, vacated its storefront in the plaza in 2009 followed by The Hobby Store.
Still in the plaza are the anchor stores Stop & Shop and Walmart, as well as regional retailers including Dollar Tree, Radio Shack, Hallmark and GameStop.
Union Savings Bank will be relocating its branch presently in the plaza across the road to Litchfield Crossing, now under development.
Mr. Biddle said the vacant stores would be leased at the going market rates.
Urstedt Biddle Properties was founded by Mr. Biddle in 1969. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it owns 49 properties containing some 4.4 million square feet of space.
It has paid consecutive, uninterupted dividends since its inception, according to the company Website.
"We're very excited," said Vin Nolan, New Milford's economic development supervisor. "For a regional real estate investor to acquire property in town speaks volumes for New Milford's future."
Mr. Nolan said that, with Mr. Biddle's contacts and connections with major businesses and companies, Urstedt Biddle would do a lot for the plaza property.
"He's a lot more hands-on than the previous owner in his ownership and management of properties," Mr. Nolan said. "He has been working at this acquisition for a while now."
The 22-acre plaza was sold to Mr. Biddle by GRE New Milford LLC.
That limited partnership had purchased the plaza for $20.69 million in 2006 from FNM Associates LLC.
Built in 1970, the plaza was renovated in 1990.