A Profile of Louis L. Ceruzzi, Jr.
Now that the Friends of the Wissatinnewag have "unearthed" the developer who has big plans for the French King Highway corridor, who is this developer who owns a mansion on an elite island, far from the big box stores he
company has been called a slum landlord.They've stirred the anger of local citizens' groups in other states.But up until now, they've been completely invisible in Greenfield.Hidden by the Mayor and her
Economic Development Coordinator, after more than a year of "secret" meetings with town officials, and the Mackin Construction Company
, the identity of the developer interested in the 140 Gill Road property was finally revealed.Instead of getting a proper introduction to the community, he
now is presented to the public at the hands of citizens.
Engineering studies filed with the state confirm that the developer is Ceruzzi Holdings LLC
of Fairfield, Connecticut, an operating arm of one of New England's largest sprawl-mall developers.Like many developers, Ceruzzi
has several holding companies, and often creates "limited liability companies" for each new project.According to Real Estate Weekly, the company also operates Ceruzzi Properties
, based in Westport, Connecticut, described as "a leading developer of ‘big-box' retail 'power centers' throughout the northeastern United States," with five million square feet of property in its portfolio.
Ceruzzi's tenants includes Wal-Mart
, Toys R Us
, Filene's Basement
, Home Depot
, Linens N' Things
, Sony Theaters
, Barnes & Noble
, Office Max, Pep Boys
, Sports Authority
, Circuit City
, Home Place
, Office Depot
, Staples and Stop & Shop
.One real estate analyst referred to Ceruzzi
as "the Northeast developer of choice for high credit retailers such as Home Depot, Stop & Shop
A group called the Concerned Citizens of Ocean Township fought Ceruzzi
to stop the proposed "Ocean Gate Commons" development.Ceruzzi
proposed a 189,326 square foot shopping plaza, with an 80,000 square foot Stop and Shop.In June, 2005 despite the developer's implied threat of litigation, the Ocean Township Council
voted to adopt an ordinance that limited the largest store to 30,000 square feet.At a public hearing, a representative from Ceruzzi Holdings
asked the Council to hold off on voting---but the zoning change was unanimously approved by the Council.Ceruzzi's legal representative said his
client was strongly opposed to the ordinance."They can't just walk away from this project," Ceruzzi's lawyer said, adding that he
didn't want his
comments to be taken as a threat.Six weeks after the Council vote, however, Ceruzzi
filed a lawsuit against the township in federal court.In September 2003, more than 1,000 residents signed a petition opposing Ceruzzi's plan.Citizens came to Planning Board hearings wearing "Stop the Shop" T-shirts.The Township Council
considered proposals from four land-use professionals, and adopted a zoning change that called for a "village square" development district that will combine retail, office and residential uses.The new town center proposal will be two stories instead of one, providing more building square footage, but on a smaller section of the property, which would leave more open space
In Orange, Connecticut, Ceruzzi
bought the Ryder Mobile Home Park in 2002 for $20 million, forcing 174 families to move.An environmental survey of the site found 16 species of amphibians and reptiles on the land.Environmental activists tried to block the relocation, but city officials allowed Ceruzzi's plans to move forward.Ceruzzi
contributed $12,500 toward each new mobile home (about a third to one half of the total cost).Each family was also given a new tree to be planted on their relocated property.The mobile home park had been there since 1931.Ceruzzi
moved all these families so he
could build a Wal-Mart
on the site.
In Derby, Connecticut, Ceruzzi
was forced to drop the typical sprawl-mart approach, when city officials told Ceruzzi
they did not want big box stores.As developer Louis Ceruzzi admitted, officials told him, "we want to see retail, but we don't want to see ‘big-box' retail.
This isn't a suburban location; it's an urban downtown ...want you to take all these concepts of ‘smart growth' into account ...everything that I read and everything that I learn about and everything that I see happening is complaints about suburban sprawl when the density belongs in the City.So we're looking for the density ...like you to make the retail units small units or capable of being divided into very small units so you can have a shoemaker, a candle store, a bookstore - all these various types of tenants that belong in a downtown location."Ceruzzi
told officials, "we believe the streetscape is going to be beautiful.
also generated controversial headlines for helping Stop & Shop tie up vacant properties near its stores in North Haven, Connecticut and elsewhere--allegedly to keep out competing supermarkets.
Without question, Ceruzzi
has helped big box stores metastasize throughout New England.The firm's large retail project dot the landscape:
In the Western Massachusetts area, Ceruzzi
is developing the North Adams Plaza, which will consist of over 103,260 square feet of retail stores and a parking lot that will hold 1,500 cars.
In White Plains, New York, Ceruzzi
developed a huge, 1.1 million-square-foot development with more than 500,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space on four levels at the base of residential towers.
The principlal force behind Ceruzzi, and Starwood Ceruzzi
is Louis L. Ceruzzi, Jr.
You won't find him living anywhere near his
sprawling creations, however.He
lives in the big-box-free zone of Nantucket, Massachusetts.Mr. Ceruzzi lives in a 7,000 s.f. Colonial house on a half acre of land overlooking Nantucket harbor.He
paid $8.02 million for his
told one real estate magazine that Nantucket is "like 1958, a step back in time."It was also a time when we had no big box stores in New England. Mr. Ceruzzi
is not lacking in professional companionship on Nantucket.
...Now that Ceruzzi has been "outted", Greenfield officials will no longer have to hide the identity of their "deep throat" developer.