The Board of Selectmen heard GOOD news at last night’s meeting:  the outlook for Wilton’s commercial grand list is looking up–as in, “we will see a whole lot more growth” for the next few years.

Town assessor Sarah Scacco presented a report that gave an overview of the current value of commercial properties in Wilton and increases she’s predicting based on the status of current projects in development. Her take on Wilton’s outlook is that the town’s commercial real estate grand list is “strong and growing.”

The total assessed value of Wilton’s current commercial real estate grand list, as of Oct. 1, 2018, is $881,937,036, which breaks down as follows:

  • Commercial property:  $748,651,506
  • Commercial vacant land:  $2,370,480
  • Commercial condos:  $59,751,020
  • Apartments: $71,164,030

Scacco noted that commercial real estate alone accounts for just over 20% of the total real estate grand list.

Since 2015, Scacco says there has been a 3.26% increase in Wilton’s commercial real estate, which was $27.8 million over the three years. A lot of that growth is due to revaluation, although development has been strong as well.

The revaluation revealed two data points:  apartment buildings have increased in value, while the value of commercial office buildings decreased. The decline in the latter category is due in large part to high vacancy rates across Fairfield County and the state, especially in Class A office space.

Wilton saw the bulk of that increase–1.94%–in the last year alone, for two reasons. For one, the value of apartment buildings increased more than commercial office buildings declined. However, Wilton has also seen several new additions to its commercial grand list.

Scacco adds that not only has it been good news through the Oct. 1, 2018 grand list, “we will see a whole lot more growth” in the next few coming years.

Future Commercial Grand List Growth

The commercial grand list will grow stronger in just the next year. Scacco is predicting that the likely one-year growth from now to the Oct. 1, 2019 grand list should equal or exceed the $27.8 million three-year cumulative growth from 2015-2018.

She credits the development of several projects, that have either recently been completed or are in the final stages before occupancy:

  • Sunrise Assisted Living at 211 Danbury Rd.:  the new assisted living facility just received its certificate of occupancy from the town on Oct. 1
  • Wilton Wellness Center (the new medical building) at 249 Danbury Rd.:  until recently only the first floor was finished and occupied, but a portion of the second floor has been completed and more space has been leased
  • ASML has a lot going on:   Both a 45,000 sq. ft. addition/renovation project as well as a new parking garage are in the very final stages. Scacco added that the company also has open permits totaling $60 million in work–indicating that more growth is to come

“The growth we’re going to have on the Oct. 2019 grand list–what we’re using for the mill rate for 2021–that growth will be significantly larger,” says Scacco, adding that while as assessor she has to be conservative, “I think it’s just the beginning.”

She points to the development at 300 Danbury Rd. where the new mixed use Wilton Heights will be underway for the 2020 commercial grand list and another mixed use development plan that may come forward at 200 Danbury Rd. for 2021.

Messaging and Effort ‘Paying Off’

First selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said that it’s no mistake that Wilton is seeing such positive growth in the commercial real estate sector.

“We had messaging that Wilton was open and we’re now seeing the dividends of that. We were aggressive and said we want investment on Rte. 7.,” something which helps at a time when the residential grand list is declining and home values are down.

She points to the video project, “It’s Working in Wilton,” produced in collaboration with the Wilton Economic Development Commission, as well as networking with the commercial developers to communicate the message that there were opportunities in Wilton.

She added that Wilton is at an advantage. “A lot of other towns aren’t seeing what we’re seeing,” she said. “People are investing in our town.”

Vanderslice credits much of the commercial growth to hard work from several departments and individuals. Among them were Wilton’s town planner Robert Nerney, the Economic Development Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), and commercial real estate brokers. She also singled out town volunteers like Phil Lauria and Jennie Wong from the EDC, Jeff Rutishauser for his work on the Real Estate Study Committee, and the many residents who attended P&Z meetings to support 300 Danbury Rd..

“A lot of people had a part in that,” she says.

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