FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Although he’s sorry General Electric’s global headquarters is leaving town, First Selectman Michael Tetreau told local Realtors that they shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what it might mean for the region's real estate market.
“We don’t need to panic yet,” Tetreau told about 100 members of the Greater Fairfield Board of Realtors. “I’m not sure there will be a big deluge of homes on the market.”
With rumors flying after the announcement — which was leaked to the Boston Globe on Jan. 13, sending GE, town and state leaders scrambling — Fairfield has set up a webpage where anyone interested can find up-to-date information. It can be accessed at www.fairfieldct.org/GE .
GE officially announced last week it will move 200 employees from Fairfield to its new digs in Boston. Those people live in several Fairfield County communities, not just Fairfield. And the company announced it will reassign the other 600 employees at the Fairfield headquarters to other GE locations in Connecticut, so many of them are likely to stay in their homes, Tetreau said.
He also dismissed rampant rumors that GE would donate or sell its 68-acre campus to Fairfield-based Sacred Heart University. He said no one at GE or Sacred Heart has told him there has been any discussion about that possibility, which would remove the property from town tax rolls.
After a new revaluation takes effect July 1, GE will owe about $1.6 million in property taxes on the property, Tetreau said.
Last Saturday, Tetreau met with Al and Ken Kleban, chair and president, respectively, of Fairfield-based real estate and development company Kleban Properties, one of the county’s highest taxpayers. The two have spoken with GE and are interested in buying the office site for a corporate technology complex with an educational component.
“They are personally really excited about this,” Tetreau said, noting the two have a good track record in town.
Tetreau said the corporate move means more than potential lost jobs and a company headquarters for Fairfield County. GE also donates funds for local schools and other agencies and provides about 25 percent of United Way’s budget, he said.
“We’re not going to find a company with more prestige than GE, that’s better known that GE or that’s more generous than GE,” said Tetreau, who said the town might see several businesses at the site. “I do not see that happening.”
Stephanie Barnes, president of the GFBOR, said the information will help Realtors "speak clearly to the community and their clients.
"When something like this happens, people get nervous," she said. "We just want people informed."
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