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Friday, December 15 Business

Matrix tenant files lawsuit against ‘distressed’ building

DANBURY - A tenant of the Matrix Corporate Center has filed a lawsuit in Danbury Superior Court against the building’s owner and receiver of rents seeking compensation for damages and to be relieved of its lease obligations because of the structure’s deteriorating state.

The law firm Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, a tenant at the Matrix since 2011, cites the declining tenant roster and failure to properly and safely maintain the complex among the reasons for the lawsuit. The firm has signed a lease to relocate into another building in Danbury due to its dissatisfaction with the Matrix.

“(The law firm) has experienced worsening conditions in the Matrix Corporate Center during the term of its tenancy,” the complaint reads, “and has registered innumerable complaints and notices of default … which defaults have not been cured in a reasonable time, and which defaults remain uncured.”

The complaint alleges breach of the office lease for several reasons, including failure to maintain security systems and personnel, consistent heating and cooling, food selection, road signage, structural elements, janitorial services and safe access to the building.

“As a result of the foregoing breaches … (Chipman & Mazzucco) has suffered and will continue to suffer money damages …” the complaint reads, further alleging the “inferior premises and amenities are of far less value,” than when the lease was signed.

The Matrix Corporate Center is a 1.3 million-square-foot office complex in west Danbury. It was built in 1982 as the headquarters for Union Carbide, which once had thousands of employees in the building. When Union Carbide was acquired and dissolved, the building was converted into a multi-tenant complex.

It was purchased in 2009 for $73 million by Matrix Realty Group and renamed Matrix Corporate Park. Glen Nelson, CEO of the Long Island-based real estate group, died in a car accident in December 2015. Ownership of the building transferred to his family’s estate under an entity called Gera Danbury.

Since then the building has lost major tenants such as Praxair, Boehringer Ingelheim and General Motors. According to a recent Fitch report, the building is 34 percent leased, but only 16 percent physically occupied - a number that will decline further when GM and Chipman & Mazzucco leave.

Deutsche Bank Trust foreclosed on the property earlier this year and the commercial real estate firm CBRE was appointed as the receiver of rents. The foreclosure process is not complete. Gera Danbury, CBRE and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas are named in the complaint.

CBRE officials could not be reached for comment.

Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola allege in the complaint that monetary damages exceed additional rent due for the remainder of the lease term. It seeks unspecified damages of more than $15,000, attorney fees and to be relieved of the lease.

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“We are deeply concerned about the direction of the Matrix Corporate Center,” Ward Mazzucco, partner with Chipman & Mazzucco told Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday. “If rent from the remaining tenants is not sufficient to operate the building and to pay the landlord’s debt, then most current and prospective tenants would not consider this a stable long-term environment.”

cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338

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