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July 18, 2022 / 2022 Power 25 Real Estate

2022 Power 25 Real Estate: Paul S. Brandes

Paul S. Brandes

Adding office space to a popular mixed-use development in a post-COVID world seems at odds with the trend of many companies downsizing their real estate footprints amid mass adoption of the hybrid work environment.

But that’s precisely what Paul Brandes and his Charter Realty & Development firm plan to do with West Hartford’s Blue Black Square. Charter bought the posh, 450,000-square-foot mixed-use property last year for a bargain price of $40 million and is converting the 35,000-square-foot former New York Sports Club at 65 Memorial Road into new office space.

The goal will be to cater the space to professional service firms like financial advisors, advertisers, and digital marketing agencies.

“Blue Back has [advantages] for office space that other [office] real estate in the area cannot provide,” Brandes said in an April interview with HBJ, noting the property’s Delmar Hotel and combination of retail and restaurants provide professional firms with convenient, pedestrian-friendly amenities.

Part of the goal of the conversion, Brandes said, is to help fill some of the vacant retail space within the development.

Although based in Greenwich, Charter has significant holdings in Greater Hartford, owning and/or operating about a dozen commercial and retail properties, including Farmington’s Westfarms Center, Hartford’s Front Street District and South Windsor’s Evergreen Walk.

Charter has also been working to shore up an elevated vacancy rate at Evergreen Walk, where construction is underway to make room for a new Whole Foods supermarket and Shake Shack fast-food burger joint.

Brandes is Charter’s founding officer and he has focused his efforts on identifying shopping center acquisition, development and redevelopment opportunities. Prior to founding Charter, he spent a combined 10 years working in acquisitions, development, and property management roles for National Realty and Development of Purchase, New York, as well as the CGI Cos. of Brookline, Mass.

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