R&F Norwalk LLC v. Board of Assessment Appeals of the Town of Norwalk
A court can find that the sales comparison approach to valuation of a furniture store that requires only 50 percent of the usual amount of parking for retail stores is more accurate than the cost replacement approach. The municipal assessor valued the plaintiff's property at $11.4 million as of Oct. 1, 2008. The plaintiff appealed and argued that the property was over assessed. The plaintiff's appraiser, Stanley Gniazdowski, used the sales comparison approach to valuation and opined that the fair market value was $10 million. The subject property has three acres and is located in a B-1 business district. The structure was built for Raymour & Flanigan as a retail furniture store and contains 58,490 square feet. It has 150 parking spaces, which is half as many as is required for other types of retail stores. The reduced number of parking spaces makes the property less attractive to other potential retail businesses. Stanley Gniazdowski's comparable sales included two furniture stores that were similar. One of them, Ethan Allen, was valued at $175 per square foot. The other, La-Z-Boy, has a building that appears similar to the subject Raymour & Flanigan store. The court rejected the municipal appraiser's claim that the cost of constructing a "big box" building could be used. The Raymour & Flanigan structure was built specifically as a furniture store with restricted parking. Although the municipal appraiser considered the rent paid by tenants such as Marshalls, REI, Barnes & Noble and Sports Authority, none of these tenants are similar to a furniture store tenant. The court relied on the sales comparison approach to valuation of the fair market value. Sales of Ethan Allen and La-Z-Boy were the most comparable. The court found that the fair market value of the subject property as of Oct. 1, 2008 was $10.6 million.