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Monday, May 23, 2011

New Post Office Owners Want It to ‘Enhance Town’

(Editor’s note: This story was first published early Saturday and is republished today for those who may have missed it.)

By James Lomuscio

Robin Panovka, a New York real estate attorney who has been a Westport summer resident for 15 years and is the point man for the new owners of the Westport Main Post Office, says they hope the building will enhance the town’s Image
Robin Panovka: quipped he’s getting late mail complaints. File photo

Panovka on Friday confirmed a WestportNow report on Thursday that he represented an Atlanta-based real estate investment group headed by his brother Alon Panovka, also an attorney, which purchased the post office for $2.35 million. (See WestportNow May 19, 2011)

“We love the town and would like to see something that can enhance the town,” said Panovka, partner and co-head of the real estate and REIT M&A groups at the New York firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and who has been heavily involved in redevelopment of the World Trade Center.

On Thursday, a “sold” sign was placed outside the building following Wednesday’s transfer of ownership to the Ansley real estate group. A filing late Thursday with the Town Clerk’s Office made the sale of the 1935-built structure at 154 Post Road East official.

“I’ve spoken to the principals, and they’re very aware of the importance of the site and the building to the town because of its central location and the historic nature of the building,” Robin Panovka added.

Panovka said if it were up to him, the Post Office would remain at its present location “because there’s no better tenant than the federal government.”

“But it’s too much space for them, and they want to downsize,” he said about the Postal Service, which has said it plans to relocate to Playhouse Square.

The Postal Service will remain at the site until its new digs are ready, he said, and now the question is what will fill the space.

While both a restaurant and a retailer have been discussed, he said, nothing is definite.

Panovka, who was cited recently as “dealmaker of the week” by the AM Law Daily industry publication for his work on a $7.4 billion merger that created the country’s largest health care real estate investment trust, said disclosure of his involvement in the post office sale touched off a wave of calls and emails.

“I’ve been getting calls and e-mails from people in Westport asking why their mail is late today,” Panovka quipped.

AM Law Daily on Friday noted Panovka’s involvement in the Westport deal as reported by WestportNow.

It said Panovka laughed when asked whether Wachtell was planning on setting up an outpost in the Connecticut suburbs.

“It’s not a typical Wachtell, Lipton matter, but these are friends of mine, and I’m helping this group out of Georgia,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re just peripherally involved, but I’ve probably gotten five e-mails today complaining about the mail.”

A lecturer-in-law at the Columbia Law School, Panovka specializes in mergers and acquisitions, strategic transactions and corporate governance, principally in the real estate, REIT and hospitality sectors, and in cross-border transactions, according to the school’s website.

As co-head of Wachtell’s Real Estate and REIT M&A groups, he has been active in many recent noteworthy M&A transactions in those sectors, it said.

“Since 2001 he has also been integrally involved in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center, as counsel to the Silverstein development group,” the website said.

It said Panovka was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lived in Israel for 11 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree cum laude from Cornell University and received his J.D. (with honors) from Duke University.


Posted 05/23/11 at 09:30 AM  Permalink


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The old Post Office building in Willimantic, CT is now occupied by the Willimantic Brewing Co. and Main Street Cafe. They retained the original architecture as much as possible as you can still see the old safety deposit boxes and call windows while you dine. A restaurant/pub like that would be a great addition to the downtown area.

Posted by Cynthia Yannotti on May 23, 2011 at 02:20 PM | #