Commercial alterations running strong

It’s been a relatively busy year for commercial building alterations in Wilton, with building permits showing 24 projects, up from 15 a year earlier.

The permits are from January to the end of June.

The total dollar volume of these alteration projects this year, through the end of June, is $8.4 million, with an average price per project of $352,773, meaning considerable money was being spent.

That pales in comparison to the previous first six-month period, though, when projects totaled $9.6 million and the average cost per project came in at $639,674. That’s because there were more high-end alterations that year, even though the total number of projects was fewer.

The most expensive project in 2018 was $3.9 million for an alteration at 77 Danbury Road, for ASML. The previous year, the biggest was $4.8 million at 249 Danbury Road, for Over Inc./C.H. Danbury Road Associates.

Commercial building alterations are an interesting measure of economic vitality, said economist Steven Glazer of Norwalk Community College.

Commercial growth is important for the town’s tax base, but it does not always come in the form of a new commercial building. Sometimes these buildings receive alterations that increase their taxable value.

“There are a couple of ways to look at this measure.  On the more optimistic front, it shows that companies have the money to put back into their respective businesses, as they wish to expand their operations. The fact that they are willing to spend this money means they are confident with regards to future sales,” Glazer said.

“The fact they are spending more also is probably the result of the fact that over the past few months, the rate of inflation has ticked upward, leading to higher expenses,” he said.

On what he called the less optimistic front, the fact that companies are engaging in these building alterations means they are not willing to move. That is a good sign for the local economy, but may also mean that businesses are not willing to spend the additional cost involved to move their operations.

“Overall, I would focus more so on the positives in that companies are optimistic about future sales as well as they are confident in maintaining their operations in Wilton,” Glazer said.

Some years have more commercial renovations than others, said town Building Official Robert Root. “Three years ago Bridgewater came in and spent millions in renovations and 10 years earlier AIG spent over $20 million on one floor. It always changes but we really do not track trends,” Root said.