AvalonBay Communities is moving its regional office from Shelton to downtown Fairfield.

The firm recently signed an 8 1/2-year lease for a 7,000-square-foot office space on the second level of Fairfield Center.

The branch, which employs about 25 workers, is making the move to be close to the downtown Metro-North train station and the vicinity's numerous restaurants and retail shops, said Grant Jaber, AvalonBay's development director.

"We hope to be moved in by April 1," he said. "We're looking forward to it."

The Shelton office occupied more than 10,000 square feet at 1000 Bridgeport Ave. for seven years, Jaber said. The office was in New Canaan before moving to Shelton.

Tommy Febbraio, owner of the Febbraio Group of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate, represented the landlord, Kleban Holdings Co., in the lease transaction, while Tom Pajolek, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis, represented AvalonBay.

"This is great news for Fairfield," Febbraio said. "It will certainly help out restaurant and general commerce in the downtown area."

The space was formerly home to Trenwick America Reinsurance Corp., Febbraio said.

Washington, D.C.-based AvalonBay is a publicly traded housing developer with 10 regional offices on the East and West coasts, according to its website.

First-floor tenants in Fairfield Center, which contains almost 95,000 square feet of retail space on two levels, include Fairfield University Bookstore, Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, Chico's, Altan Jewelers, Apricot Lane Boutique and Victoria's Secret. Second-floor occupants, in addition to Avalon Bay, include Merrill Lynch and new tenants Higgins Group Real Estate's Fairfield office and Michael Knight & Co., CPAs.

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