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West Hartford’s Blue Back Square Under New Ownership

Blue Back Square sign. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Connecticut-based Charter Realty and Development Corp. finalized the purchase of Blue Back Square from Starwood this week.

By Ronni Newton

A significant real estate transaction that closed Friday – the purchase of the mixed use Blue Back Square development by Charter Realty – will bring the ownership as well as management of West Hartford’s 14-year-old shopping center to a Connecticut company.

The property was purchased from Starwood Retail Partners which has owned the mixed-use development since 2013. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The new ownership group “Blue Back Capital Partners, LLC” is a joint venture between Greenwich-based Charter Realty & Development Corp. (Charter Realty) and Rialto Capital.

“As a Connecticut-based company, our team is all local and fully dedicated to the long-term success of the property. We look forward to working with the West Hartford community and patrons alike to bring in new offerings and enhance the overall experience at Blue Back Square,” Paul Brandes, a founding Principal of Charter Realty, said in a statement. “Blue Back is a truly unique opportunity for us. We are all-in.”

Blue Back Square courtyard Courtesy photo

Robyn Rifkin, Blue Back Square’s general manager since 2014, will join the Charter team and remain in the same role.

“Blue Back Square presents an exciting opportunity for the team to bring new energy to what is already one of the most desirable shopping and dining destinations in the region,” said Rifkin.

Blue Back Square, a West Hartford Special Services District, was developed as a public-private partnership between the Town of West Hartford and its private partners.

Charter Realty, which owns and/or operates more than 80 shopping centers throughout the United States and according to their website has the contracts to lease more than 11 million square feet, already has an understanding of the West Hartford market, and has handled the commercial leasing for other property owners in town, such as LaSalle Road Partners, owner of several LaSalle Road and Farmington Avenue buildings.

Fifty of the properties Charter manages are in Connecticut, and include a variety of upscale retail and mixed-use projects, such as Bedford Square (Westport) and Storrs Center at UConn Storrs. Recently they have been brought in to manage and redevelop Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.

“We are very excited to welcome Charter Realty & Development Corp.to our community. We thank them for their investment in West Hartford,” Mayor Shari Cantor told We-Ha.com. “They clearly recognize the importance of this center for the town and the region and are enthusiastic about reinvigorating and enhancing Blue Back Square. We are really looking forward to working with them to strengthen this regional asset.”

Town Manager Matt Hart is also very pleased with the transition of ownership to Charter.

“I believe that Charter will prove an excellent fit for Blue Back,” he told We-Ha.com. “The Charter team knows the Connecticut market as well as anyone, and they bring a great deal of talent and enthusiasm to this acquisition. I am excited to have Charter as a partner and think we’ll be able to do some really good things working together to promote Blue Back Square and West Hartford.”

As owners of Blue Back Square, Charter Realty will assume the full spectrum of daily operations and management services for the property, including ongoing development, leasing, and marketing efforts.

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