Owners of the new Monroe Diner under renovation on Main Street hope to open sometime in August, a store is interested in leasing space at Stepney Crossing, and the Pepper Street Industrial Park continues to attract tenants.
Winthrop E. Baum, chairman of the Fairfield County Commercial Brokers Network (FCCBN), got to see the town's economic progress first-hand last Friday during a Monroe Economic Development Commission sponsored bus tour.
"It's great to see that progress is being made in a difficult economy," Baum said. "Monroe is one of the few places that is doing better."
First Selectman Steve Vavrek said, "It's a breath of fresh air when outside people are seeing it — the progress I said is going to be coming. Time's aren't easy, but we're trying to make it as easy as possible."
Vavrek noted that progress takes time, using the police station project as an example. After stalling several times since 2004, the town broke ground on the building project this spring.
On Friday afternoon, the EDC hosted FCCBN's monthly meeting and luncheon in the Ehlers Room of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library. Baum, Hossler and Vavrek all addressed the audience before most of the 45 people in attendance boarded a Premier Lines bus for a tour of commercial properties in Monroe that are available for sale or lease.
Hossler said brokers provided listing sheets with a photo and information such as the asking price and square footage of properties, which went into binders that FCCBN members used to follow while along the bus tour.
Hossler led the tour and when the bus arrived at the Pepper Street Industrial Park, local developer John Kimball, boarded the bus and took the microphone to talk about progress and opportunities there.
"They were happy to be on the bus and they saw things they've never seen before," Hossler said Friday. "One Realtor said, 'This is a beautiful little town.' I many times say this is the quiet corner of Fairfield County. As I said today, 'The mouse is roaring. Things are turning around."
Since December, Hossler said, "We've filled in quite of few spaces. David Sippin said they're almost full."
Sippin, is managing partner of Sippin Management Co., which owns a number of commercial properties along the busy corridors of routes 111 and 25.
After stepping off of the bus, Stephen Hodson of Hodson Realty said, "We toured all of the vacant properties in town. It was productive."
Baum, who is a part of Web Realty Co. in Norwalk, praised the work of Hossler, who first arranged for the FCCBN to hold its meeting in Monroe last year.
"He's such a good representative of the town," Baum said. "And to think it's all volunteer."
Sponsors for the bus tour included Kimball Group, Tartaglia Commercial Properties, Atherton Associates, Sippin Property Management Co., Pond View LLC, HR Hodson Realty Inc., Vidal/Wettenstein LLC, Newtown Savings Bank and Union Savings Bank.