May 11, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 2:30 pm
DEAL WATCH TODAY

CT's Blue Back Square off the sales block

West Hartford's Blue Back Square is staying in the hands of its current owners a while longer.

"It's my understanding that it's no longer on the market,'' Town Manager Ron Van Winkle told HBJ's Deal Watch Today.

West Hartford's interest in whether Blue Back sells isn't benign: A potential nine-digit sale price for one of the region's most vibrant urban magnets would generate lofty real estate conveyance levies for both town and state coffers.

The 4 -year-old office-retail-housing development that co-anchors the town's central business hub was being shopped by Belgian investor Ronald de Waal in a bid to liquidate his U.S. commercial realty portfolio, officials said last summer when Blue Back initially went on the market.

De Waal's Ronus Properties did not return HBJ Today's repeated phone calls for comment.

Farmington Valley real estate developer Robert "Bob'' Wienner, who originated Blue Back's concept and later recruited de Waal and Street-Works LLC as co-developers/investors, did not immediately return a phone call Friday for comment. Street-Works, formerly based in White Plains, N.Y., could not be immediately reached.

Asked more than a month ago about Blue Back's sale status, Wienner said the property had drawn tire-kickers but no sales contract. He declined to identify the interested parties.

However, other realty observers have noted that de Waal's initial insistence on shopping Blue Back Square -- described as his "crown jewel'' -- as part of his entire realty portfolio, which covers New England and the southeastern and southwestern U.S, may have been a hindrance.

Blue Back opened in November 2007 as a $159 million development with 600,000 square feet of office, retail and housing space. All but a tiny patch of retail space is full.

No asking price has been publicly disclosed on the 210,000 square feet of retail space, 205,000 square feet of office, and 48 apartments -- each at least 90 percent leased. Blue Back's 59 condominiums are individually owned and not part of the offering.

According to West Hartford's 2011 revaluation, Blue Back's market value grew 35 percent the past five years, with its six parcels valued at $121 million. The properties' assessed value is $84.7 million.

Aside from Blue Back, de Waal owns Meyerland Plaza, a "power'' retail shopping center in Houston purchased in 1998; and other properties in Georgia and North Carolina.

Staff Writer Greg Bordonaro contributed to this report.

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