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February 1, 2024 Deal Watch

NY investor pays $9.5M for Waterbury industrial complex; will ‘work with the city to tidy things up’

Snowball Developments President Brian Ker at his company's newly acquired industrial campus at 567 South Leonard St. in Waterbury.

Brooklyn-based industrial real estate investor Snowball Developments recently paid $9.5 million to add a nearly 11-acre Waterbury property with three industrial buildings to its growing Connecticut portfolio.

The three concrete block buildings, which total 155,975 square feet, and their grounds are in need of some attention. One needs a new roof. Another is without heat or water. The parking lot is pitted and cracked in places and is run through in one spot by partially covered train tracks that have long been inactive. 

The buildings were erected between 1956 and 1970, according to assessing records.

Time-worn though they are, the buildings are currently completely tenanted. Snowball President Brian Ker said he plans to spend around $1 million over the coming 18 months on building repairs and making portions of the grounds ready to accommodate outdoor storage.

Snowball Development was launched roughly three years ago with the premise of buying underused industrial properties with untapped potential. It has since committed tens of millions of dollars buying assets in New Jersey and Connecticut.

“We want to work with the city to tidy things up and make this much more attractive,” Ker said.

The upgraded buildings will command higher rents, Ker said. He hopes to hang on to existing tenants, which include:

  • Circuit Breaker Sales NE – a Seymour-based company specializing in the reconditioning of circuit breakers and other electrical gear for reuse. The company currently fully occupies a 16,616-square-foot and a 33,280-square-foot building on the South Leonard Street campus, using both for storage.
  • Pack-All Inc. – a company specializing in the repackaging of retail goods.
  • Architectural Supplements Inc. – a manufacturer of innovative plant containers.

The industrial compound once hosted a railroad “roundhouse” where trains would come to be serviced. Later, it was home to boat-maker Alcort Inc., which made the iconic Sailfish sailboat.

Snowball purchased the industrial campus from Benerofe Properties. Based in White Plains, New York, Benerofe is another company that buys and leases existing industrial assets. It paid $4.85 million for 567 South Leonard St. in 2007, according to assessing records.

Benerofe remains the certifying party for the cleanup of industrially polluted soil on the site under Connecticut’s Transfer Act. A portion of the sales price will be held back until that ongoing work is complete, Ker said.

Ker said he believes the South Leonard Street property will yield higher rents following investment due to the increasing demand for industrial properties in Connecticut, which is pushing demand further into the center of the state. 

Snowball Development's newly acquired industrial campus at 567 South Leonard St. in Waterbury.

South Leonard Street is in an area of Waterbury that has a core of intensive industrial use and is close to ramps for Interstate 84 and Route 8.

Ker said he is confident he will be able to quickly find takers for any space that opens in the South Leonard Street location.

“In the market before there was no incentive for landlords to really invest in properties,” Ker said. “We see the market is already shifting and will continue to shift. In our mind there is more demand for space than space that can be created today.” 

Waterbury Mayor Paul Pernerewski said Snowball has spoken with city officials about plans for continued investment in the property, including a possible expansion to its footprint. 

“We look forward to working with Snowball through the renovation process,” Pernerewski said. 

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