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.