Commercial real estate accounts for $15 million in annual revenue

Though many residents leave Wilton during the day for offices in Stamford and New York, the town contains more people during the day than at night.

Town Planner Bob Nerney, one town official with his ear to the door of commercial real estate, said Monday Wilton is “interestingly enough, an export economy.”

This, he said, means that while many people leave Wilton for work,  people entering town to work at companies like Breitling and Bridgewater Capital outnumber the exodus.

“There are few towns in Connecticut where that is the case,” Mr. Nerney said.

“Weston — for instance — is a case where you have very few people coming into the community to work. Probably the public school system would be the greatest magnet, but most people who live there are leaving the community for Norwalk or New York.”

With the second-highest commercial occupancy rate in Fairfield County, Mr. Nerney says fostering the commercial sector has been a great success of Wilton.

Currently, commercial real estate makes up 15.55% of Wilton’s total grand list real estate value, town assessor David Lisowski said Monday. In New Canaan, that number is 22%.

At the tax rate valid through the end of June, commercial real estate taxes provide more than $15 million in revenue for Wilton’s coffers, Mr. Lisowski said. In January, the Wilton Economic Development Commission reported a 91% occupancy of commercial space in Wilton. Based on what the town is now collecting, the remaining 9% could bring in as much as $1 million in additional tax revenue.

Wilton’s proximity to large urban areas — like New York City and Stamford — plays a part in drawing commercial offices to Wilton, as does access to Route 7 and Interstate 95, Mr. Nerney said.

The areas surrounding town also offer an excellent workforce pool and a welcoming community, he added.

“There is an excellent quality of life for those who work and live in the community. Wilton is a very attractive town with good schools and a high quality of life. All of that sort of plays a role,” he said.

Retail businesses also find Wilton an excellent place to set up shop, Mr. Nerney said.

Because the town experiences a high day-time turnover rate, retailers have a customer pool nearly double the size of Wilton’s total residency.

“During weekdays, we have people [working in town] seeking out restaurants and other support services, and at end of day when they leave those residents of Wilton are doing shopping during evening and weekend hours.”

He referred to this process as a positive cyclical activity for both business owners and residents. While businesses benefit from increased traffic, residents benefit from access to services often reserved for towns that are double Wilton’s size.