BERLIN — Depot Crossing has been renamed Newport Center @ Farmington Avenue by the local development firm that purchased it last month with the intention of completing long unfinished commercial space.
“We see a great opportunity with that beautiful commercial space on the first level,” said Anthony Valenti, of Newington, co-principal of Newport Realty with Southington developer Mark Lovley. According to town records, Newport Realty purchased the building and property at 848 Farmington Ave. in January for $1.25 million.
Newport Realty has also been working with the town to develop three three vacant town-owned parcels on Farmington Avenue into five mixed-use buildings with 8,400 square feet of retail space, 10,800 square feet of office or medical space and 76 market rate apartments.
Town Economic Development Director Chris Edge said he’s already been working with Newport to find commercial tenants for the former Depot Crossing. He believes the building is suited for restaurants, professional services or specialized medical offices.
“(Newport Realty) said they’re going to be investing money in the ground floor,” he said. “ … Their goal is happy tenants, happy landlords, no vacancies.”
After the building was largely completed around 2014, the 16 apartments on the upper floors were rented out by Hartford-based housing non-profit CIL. The organization was unsuccessful in finding businesses to move into the 9,520 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, which was never finished.
Citing their experience in construction, Edge said he’s confident Newport will fare better than CIL.
Valenti said Newport is advertising a rate of $15 per square foot, which he said is less than what CIL was asking. The first floor can be sold as one large unit or divided into as many as five businesses.
Valenti said the firm is focusing on searching for small businesses as tenants, which has been the company’s model in properties it manages in West Hartford and Southington.
“We’re the guys that love to work with mom and pop tenants,” he said.