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Norwalk Building Permits Tell Tale of Growth

NORWALK, Conn. – Hammers have been pounding at a multifamily development on Glenwood Avenue, where nine units are being constructed in three buildings. But ask about building success in Norwalk, and workers will point down the road to a six-unit townhouse complex that is going up. The buildings are bigger and are part of a larger complex, part of which is already completed on Ferris Avenue.

July was the busiest month for new construction permits in a long time: Permits were issued last month for three single-family homes in addition to the nine units on Glenwood. A permit was also issued for a foundation for an 84-unit congregate housing development at 73 Strawberry Hill Ave.

June also had an uptick for new building: Permits were issued for a single-family residence and a two-family residence as well as the six townhouses on Glenwood that connect to Ferris Avenue.

In May, one permit was issued for a single-family residence. In April, there were three. One permit was issued for a single-family residence in February and March combined.

There have been no permits issued for new construction yet this August. Last year two builders got permits to build single family residnences during August. There were no permits for new construction issued last year during July, though.

The nine-unit complex on Glenwood is being constructed by Polito Builders, which did not return a call asking for comment. August Lenhart, a builder in Stamford, is the force behind Ferris Park , the bigger development down the road.

Lenhart acquired permits for the Ferris Avenue portion of the complex in June 2010. The only other new building permit issued that month was for a modular home on existing foundation, a "fire job."

Mike Nikolas, sole broker for Ferris Park, said Lenhart has been building for 30 years. He helped Lenhart acquire the property before the market crashed.

The townhouses sold for $390,000 originally, but have risen to about $400,000. "They increase prices as they finish the construction," he said. "The risk is now minimal for the builder because they only have so many units left, which is interesting, because the market has been on a decline and now we're able to increase the price. It speaks for the quality of our product."

The complex, which will feature a playground, appeals to young professionals in their "mid-20s to early 40s." The units include "pretty much every toy imaginable," with granite counter tops and other amenities offered as standard equipment.

"I think we have been very fortunate with how things are," he said. "We are selling them very rapidly. We have a tremendous group of people. ... We have a new baby, a baby boy was born already in here." The new units will be done in November and December.

Nikolas said Lenhart isn't selling the homes for as much as he originally expected and bought the property when it was at a higher value. But "the way he looks at it you can't lose sleep over it." He expects Lenhart to continue building in Norwalk.

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