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Bloomingdale’s would join Nordstrom as SoNo mall anchors; news gets warm reaction

Update, 11:41 p.m.: Comment from Mayor Harry Rilling.

NORWALK, Conn. – Bloomingdale’s is coming to Norwalk – assuming the city approves the expected proposal by General Growth Properties to build a shopping mall on West Avenue adjacent to I-95.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning by Bloomingdale’s parent company, Macy’s Inc., via press release.

It would be the only Bloomingdale’s location in Connecticut.

According to the release, the store would be a three-level, 150,000-square-foot location featuring Bloomingdale’s typical fare: designer and luxury goods, including women’s apparel, shoes, accessories, beauty, men’s, kids and home items.

Bloomingdale’s Norwalk store is expected to employ a workforce of approximately 200 people.

Bloomingdale’s would join upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom as anchors at the SoNo mall. Nordstrom’s intent to build a similar-size store was announced by GGP at the end of February.

Shortly after the Nordstrom announcement, Mayor Harry Rilling said he expected the second anchor store to be similarly upscale.

“Hopefully we’ll get, and I am fairly comfortable with the possibility that we may end up with, something like a Neiman Marcus, a Saks Fifth Avenue, a Bloomingdales,” he said.

“I kind of knew that Bloomingdale’s was next on the radar and it was very difficult to keep that inside of me because it was exciting to have a Bloomingdale’s,” Mayor Harry Rilling said Wednesday night. “So it’s going to be, I think, by everybody’s definition a high end mall, and hopefully bringing lots of lots of jobs to Norwalk and people who are looking for work. We’re excited about that.”

In a story published here on March 17, resident Joanne Horvath praised the mall concept and specifically mentioned Bloomingdale’s.

“Redevelopment for this site has been going on since the 1980s and finally a developer has come up with what I believe is the best possible use for this property,” she said, adding that the site is highly visible from I-95 and easily accessible from Route 7. A Bloomingdale’s as the second anchor would put Norwalk on the map as a shopping destination, she said.

As far back as January, GGP’s potential anchor stores were foreshadowed in comments by retail industry consultant and Robert Gibbs, who was brought into the discussions by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

“The shopping center industry has been very strong for luxury retail centers, especially malls that are anchored with upscale department stores like Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s,” he said.

The Common Council last week approved language for the parcel’s revised Land Disposition Agreement that would permit the mall’s construction. The LDA would allow GGP to choose two uses from the following list:

  • 85,000 to 625,000 square feet of Class A office space
  • 75,000 to 750,000 square feet of retail space, with a maximum of 10 percent of that going to restaurant uses, and anchors of high quality
  • 60 to 350 residential units, with 15 percent affordable.
  • 85,000 to 175,000 square feet of hotel space, with at least 150 rooms and upscale facilities

In addition, 5 percent of the space would be dedicated to the “public realm,” a broadly defined use that would include plazas, art and other public gathering spots.

Three Council members responded to NancyOnNorwalk requests for their reactions to the Bloomingdal’s announcement.

“The addition of Bloomingdale’s adds to the project’s attractiveness,” said Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large). “Plus, I am certain neither Bloomingdale’s nor Nordstrom’s would make this kind of decision without thoroughly researching every aspect of the project, including traffic.”

John Igneri (D-District E) said he has supported the mall from the beginning.

“It will be the economic engine for Norwalk’s growth. So the addition of Bloomingdale confirms my opinion,” he said.

“If we are going to have a Mall in Norwalk, I can’t think of two better anchor stores than Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s,” said John Kydes (D-District C). “Their longevity and success in White Plains gives me confidence that it will also work here.”

Pending city approvals, GGP is targeting a 2018 opening for the mall.

“This spectacular new shopping center will be a distinctive and upscale destination for Fairfield County and surrounding areas, prominently positioned at I-95 and Highway 7,” Tony Spring, chairman and chief executive officer of Bloomingdale’s, said in the announcement. “Our new store will offer an exciting fashion environment and a modern service experience to build upon our strong base of loyal omnichannel customers in the Northeast.”

Norwalk will be the 41st Bloomingdale’s store location. In addition to 37 current stores, new Bloomingdale’s stores are expected to open in fall 2015 in Ala Moana in Honolulu, and in fall 2017 in the Mall at Miami Worldcenter in Miami, Fla., and in Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center in San Jose, Calif.

Bloomingdale’s in Dubai is operated by Al Tayer Group LLC under a license agreement, as will a new Bloomingdale’s to open in Abu Dhabi in 2018.

Bloomingdale’s also operates 13 outlet stores in the U.S., with a 14th opening in fall 2015 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

15 comments

Mike Mushak April 1, 2015 at 1:23 am

Great news!

As a very curious suburban teenager from central NJ in the 1970’s, I used to take a train and a subway to the closest thing to Heaven I had ever seen up to that point, Bloomingdales in NYC. I loved looking at the special rooms they had decorated in high disco style with lots of chrome and glass, and get spritzed with men’s cologne by beautiful exotic women who would hang out on the first floor and stalk customers. I’ll never forget my first time I was spritzed with “Eau Savage” by Christian Dior, or “Z-14” by Halston. I saved the little samples they gave out and wore them to high school, and used to love saying “Eau Savage” in long drawn out syllables when anyone asked me at my locker what I was wearing.

I was a shy, weird, and creative kid, and Bloomingdale’s was my escape to a fantasy world where beautiful people of all stripes and colors wore upturned collars on their Izod shirts and said “faaaabulous” about everything. In 1979 when I was 18 and after my first year in college, I got a summer job at Renny, a fancy flower shop a few blocks away from Bloomingdales, delivering flowers in a van all over Manhattan. After work I’d walk down to Bloomie’s and Fiorucci around the corner, not to shop on my meager income but just to gawk at all of the glamour and celebrities and get me my free spritz of Eau Savage so I could smell like a million bucks before getting on the subway. At the time it was store like no other in the world.

I once saw the disco singer Linda Clifford there, and said hello although she didn’t notice me. She had just come out with “Runaway Love” a year earlier, in 1978, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKEUuF_PdNM, one of the best dance songs ever recorded, and I wanted to grow up to be black diva singer just like her, or Grace Jones. Who cares now, but it was a great moment of my teenage years just to be that close to the legendary Linda Clifford in Bloomingdales.

I haven’t been in Bloomingdales in decades, and I hate shopping now except for essentials ay Old Navy, but here I am in middle age in Norwalk, 40 years later, hearing the news that Bloomie’s is coming to town. In tribute, I’ve already turned up the collar on my faded too-tight Izod shirt (it somehow shrunk in the drawer) and am practicing saying faaaabulous. Well actually I never forgot how to do that. I might even have to buy my own bottle of “Eau Savage” for the first time in my life, a name which means “the savage” which is an ironic joke at my age, and drink Black Russians while dancing in the sunroom to old disco hits under the mirror ball powered by a single “D” battery, frightening Coco the dog.

Yes, Bloomingdales is coming to town. Pinch me, and wake me up from my disco dreams.

SouthNorwalker April 1, 2015 at 6:23 am

Thank you for bringing both of these stores to Norwalk. I look forward to learning of the additional stores., and hope you are considering a book store, norwalk needs one.
Please also continue with the Wall Street project,, let’s get the Globe going.. What a great concert hall or playhouse it could be.

John Hamlin April 1, 2015 at 7:30 am

The comment from Michael Mushak is simply priceless. If we have to have a mall, at least we will have two great anchors.

Piberman April 1, 2015 at 7:32 am

Even more reason for Mayor Rilling and the Council to encourage a preliminary traffic study on expected downtown traffic congestion congestion ? Does the million estimated visitors monthly need be raised ? Bloomies is the “real deal”. Walking Bloomies on a rainy day will sure beat doing same at Wal Mart.

Nancy April 1, 2015 at 9:38 am

At last. Its time for Norwalk! We have a story to tell potential businesses who have shied away from the city for years. With the mall buttoned up, its time to move north to Wall Street. Wall Street is less than a mile from the Mall, and about 1/2 mile from the Waypointe Development. Recent arguments for avoiding the Downtown retail sites include the eyesore Duleep building, the delay in the Globe Theater restoration, the city government’s seeming adversity to new business, and the question of whether Bridgeport will be the next “in” place for retailers. But the number one question that arises when a potential owner or tenant is looking as space is the lack of affordable parking. A one way street with affordable angled, metered parking will be essential to convincing new regional business owners to at last, choose Wall Street.

EveT April 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Can anyone explain what is the process for public input about the 5% dedicated to the “public realm”? How can we Norwalk residents contribute our ideas for how this public space should be configured and used?
Also, does 5% simply mean 5% of the square footage and whoever/whatever is using that space has to pay rent, pay utilities, pay for cleaning and upkeep? Or is 5% actually contributed for free by the mall ownership?

Carol April 1, 2015 at 3:37 pm

can’t wait-two great stores now we do need a book store-cafe typr,cup of coffee,books,magazines etc

Local Ed April 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I really hope they diversity this mall, not just big shops, I would love to see some kind of fun bar/restaurant maybe with a large outdoor patio area. On top of that they should try to bring a gym in there. Maybe even some kind of over priced health food store, that will bring the hipsters in!

Janet Bedol April 1, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Maybe B&N will come into this glam new space, or into WayPoint Plaza, which is how I now think of Loehman’s Plaza. We customers are there!

Rod Lopez-Fabrega April 2, 2015 at 11:02 am

I agree with Mike Mushak. I hate shopping and always have, but I also did buy into the special status of Bloomies (their NY store). Heck, I figured that if it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for me. However, the Bloomingdale’s of Stamford was many steps down from the one in “the City” (NYCity, that is) and did not make it and pulled out of their dedicated building. It was pointedly NOT part of a mall, but had their own building. They still were not successful in Stamford. If they are added to the “Norwalk Mall” lineup, will their presentation and mix of products be the same as in the old Bloomies in NY or more like Stamford?

At any rate, the probability of Neiman Marcus, a Saks Fifth Avenue or a Bloomingdales, definitely raises the enthusiasm level from someone who very strongly opposed the idea of a MALL in Norwalk. Those stores along with Nordstrom would bring in the upscale clientele that could make the difference.

So, I would ask if this is a real probability or a clever smoke screen on the part of those politicos and builders who have enthusiasm for the “Norwalk Mall”? If it’s the former, I’m for it.

Suzanne April 2, 2015 at 2:25 pm

What demographic in Norwalk will be able to shop here? What percentage of those people/households does this represent in Norwalk? My guess would not be many – I guess those who want to enter the hallowed doors of the Mall will just have to work there at rates unaffordable to many citizens who need the work to be a living wage.

GGP sure knows how to work the gullible (and those non-Norwalkers who get to shop here.) The City that works: spend your money and leave. No culture to leave behind.

Jody April 2, 2015 at 5:41 pm

This is going to kill whatever character Norwalk has left. All the mom & pop shops are gone on Washington Street. I live in Norwalk because of its diversity. Nordstrom & Bloomingdales, along with the other high-end, high price boutiques in this new mall will force out everything else. Keep the malls in Stamford & put more money into supporting local business in Norwalk.

Maria April 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

So glad to have a mall with two great stores that I love! Bloomingdale and Nordstrom’s will bring something to Norwalk that it is definitely lacking. The location is great for people coming south and north it is right off the highway and I hope it brings a lot of people into Norwalk, CT to shop!

Audrey Cozzarin April 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I am not in favor of a mall in Norwalk, and when I talk to other Norwalkers they say the same thing: Norwalk is already congested, and malls are passé! What’s with the love-affair with shopping, retail, consumerism? Why not utilize that land for something a bit more constructive such as a park or community center? How about a center for the arts? The private has lorded it over the public long enough in my opinion.

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