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GGP again put on spot, as Norwalk Redevelopment Agency moves proposal ahead

An updated rendering of The SoNo Collection, without the hotel that had been planned to be built over Bloomingdale’s.

NORWALK, Conn. — The SoNo Collection is in danger of losing its heart, a Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Commissioner said Wednesday, speculating that the planned mall would no longer be good for Norwalk residents.

Latanya Langley, after saying she was venting on behalf of the community, went on to vote with the three other Commissioners present to allow GGP to present its argument for removing the hotel from its planned mall, seeking amendments to the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) and Urban Renewal Plan for the last parcels of the Reed Putnam Urban Renewal Plan. Continue reading GGP again put on spot, as Norwalk Redevelopment Agency moves proposal ahead

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Blank withdrawn from Norwalk Redevelopment nomination

Zoning Commission Chairman Adam Blank. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. – Adam Blank was not appointed to the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday.

Mayor Harry Rilling announced at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting that he was tabling the appointment of the former Zoning Commission chairman to Redevelopment, after a conversation with him that afternoon. Continue reading Blank withdrawn from Norwalk Redevelopment nomination

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GGP given go ahead: Now formally asking to build hotel-less SoNo Collection

An updated rendering of The SoNo Collection, without the hotel that had been planned to be built over Bloomingdale’s.

Attorney William Hennessey, right, represents GGP at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. – Yes, Norwalk is going ahead with allowing mall developer GGP to make its pitch to various governmental bodies, asking to build The SoNo Collection without building a hotel over Bloomingdale’s, to pay the city $3.5 million instead.

The discussion at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting featured GGP defending its request, responding to public criticism, and Mayor Harry Rilling explaining what commenter Diane Cece, at the beginning of the meeting, called the “back room negotiations” to arrive at what was announced seemingly as a done deal. Continue reading GGP given go ahead: Now formally asking to build hotel-less SoNo Collection

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Norwalkers weigh in on The SoNo Collection

Mellodye Ragin of SoNo Recording Studios talks to the Norwalk Common Council on Tuesday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. — The yays outnumbered the nays Tuesday as a series of Norwalkers took the time to talk to the Common Council about The SoNo Collection.

Brenda Penn-Williams is against the deal, but the Rev. Ray Dancy and the Rev. Lindsay Curtis are in favor. Oldtimers Patsy Brescia and Wini Mola said the mall will be great for Norwalk, even without a hotel, while Diane Cece held Mayor Harry Rilling to account on his opposition to a mall when he was a mayoral candidate. Continue reading Norwalkers weigh in on The SoNo Collection

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Norwalk has conceded enough on LDA already

Send signed letters to [email protected]

This is an open letter to the Common Council members and the Redevelopment Agency, sent as public comment:

 Once again, GGP is before you asking for more alteration of the LDA for the Reed Putnam sites. The world class mall developer who came before you a few years ago with their expert assessment of how to develop this mixed use designated parcel in a way that was economically feasible and harmonious with Norwalk’s needs is now admitting that they are floundering and they want you to help them make their numbers work. They should be held accountable for their own failure to plan, as all commercial enterprises should.

They are currently asking to remove the hotel component, but we should look hard at asking for more, instead of settling for less.
Continue reading Norwalk has conceded enough on LDA already

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Morris files to run for mayor

State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) speaks to Norwalk Democrats on Monday in the South Norwalk Community Center.

NORWALK, Conn. — It’s official: Bruce Morris is challenging Mayor Harry Rilling for the Democratic Party nomination this summer.

Morris, state representative for District 140 and leader of District B Democrats, filed papers to run for mayor Monday, he confirmed to NancyOnNorwalk at Monday night’s Democratic Town Committee meeting. Continue reading Morris files to run for mayor

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Norwalk Dems grill Rilling, Igneri, on GGP, ‘BJ’s, Grasso

Common Council President John Igneri (D-District E) eyes Diane Lauricella at Monday’s Democratic Town Committee meeting in the South Norwalk Community Center.

NORWALK, Conn. — The optics aren’t good for Norwalk Democrats, Diane Lauricella said Monday, putting Mayor Harry Rilling and Common Council President John Igneri (D-District E) on the spot about recent events.

While Lauricella was focused on the “BJ’s Wholesale Club” for Main Avenue and on the awarding of a $3.4 million paving contract to Grasso construction, others at the Democratic Town Committee meeting pressured Igneri and Rilling on GGP’s request to excise the hotel from its plan for The SoNo Collection. Continue reading Norwalk Dems grill Rilling, Igneri, on GGP, ‘BJ’s, Grasso

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Norwalk political notes: Blank to Redevelopment; talk of Hartford

Former Norwalk Zoning Commissioner Adam Blank.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s what we have for you in political notes this Tuesday:

  • Blank heads to Redevelopment
  • Morris predicts tolls in Connecticut
  • ECS result could be phenomenal, Morris says
  • Rilling talks about state budget uncertainty
  • Dems report swelling membership

Continue reading Norwalk political notes: Blank to Redevelopment; talk of Hartford

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Council to weigh mall deal changes that are 90% in the developer’s favor

GGP is looking for Norwalk to approve a plan for The SoNo Collection to be built without a hotel.

Send signed letters to [email protected]

Updated, 2:41 p.m.: Minor revision.

Mall developer GGP says it has a big problem. In June 2016, GGP won permission to build a mall and hotel in Norwalk, on the County’s most desirable parcel of open land. GGP’s preference at the time was to build a mall without a hotel, but Norwalk’s leaders insisted on the hotel as a condition of approval, believing that a mixed-use project was far better for the city. GGP added the hotel, obtained their approvals, and recently announced that they can’t build the promised hotel because it is “economically unfeasible” for them.

Now GGP wants special permission to revise its plans to omit the hotel. Norwalk’s leaders already compromised tremendously to grant the June 2016 approval. Therefore, any further compromises should require a hard look at GGP’s definition of “unfeasible” economics. To their credit, GGP team members Doug Adams and Larry Cafero were forthcoming at last week’s information session held at their SoNo storefront. Doug was also forthcoming when I contacted him afterwards by phone.

Please bear with me for a few sentences worth of numbers — they’re important. GGP expects a return of about 8% on the entire project. The cost to build the mall without a hotel is roughly $475 million, which would achieve GGP’s desired 8% return. Building the hotel costs an extra $56 million, and the projected rate of return on the hotel portion is 4.4%. Using math that I learned in public schools, and GGP’s own figures, I calculate that building the mall plus the hotel would reduce GGP’s rate of return from 8% to 7.63%. Continue reading Council to weigh mall deal changes that are 90% in the developer’s favor

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Norwalk Council studies noise issue

Common Council member Tom Livingston (D-District E), left; Ordinance Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A), right. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk would be ahead of Connecticut’s curve if Common Council move ahead with their current thinking on a target-specific noise ordinance.

The Council Ordinance Committee is beginning its discussion next month with the thought of limiting noise from SoNo commercial establishments to 45 decibels at night, and redefining what is considered “night.” This was the recommendation they got from Charles Shamoon, Assistant Counsel at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, but not standard procedure in Connecticut. Continue reading Norwalk Council studies noise issue

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Opinion: Connecticut lawmakers try to silence public debate

During this time of extreme and, at times, violent political activism some lawmakers in Connecticut are trying to silence public debate by exposing private citizens’ information.

House Bill 5589 requires the state government to publish an online database identifying people, the cause(s) they support, and where they live. Continue reading Opinion: Connecticut lawmakers try to silence public debate

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Opinion: Norwalk ACTS director’s weekly shout outs

Anthony Allison

Anthony Allison is the executive director of Norwalk ACTS.

Shout Out to Ailish Dennigan, a Food Corps Service Member, serving with Norwalk Grows, for spearheading the effort to obtain a Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry grant to pilot an alternative breakfast delivery model through the Breakfast in Classroom Program at Brookside Elementary School. The pilot will run from early May through the end of the school year. Brookside students, 64 percent of which are eligible for Free or Reduced Price (FRP) Lunch, already receive lunch bags in the cafeteria, but now they will also pick up breakfast each morning and bring it into the classroom. Research shows that increased school breakfast program participation is associated with better academic test scores, daily attendance, and class participation, as well as reductions in student absences and tardiness.

Shout Out to Connecticut students whose graduation rates reached an all-time high during the 2015-2016 school year, hitting 87.4 percent. Connecticut students continue to graduate high school within four years at a significantly higher rate than the national average of 83.2 percent.  Continue reading Opinion: Norwalk ACTS director’s weekly shout outs

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CTNJ/Opinion: Drastic times – let towns have their own sales taxes

Terry Cowgill

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is managing editor of The Berkshire Edge in Great Barrington, Mass.

In an effort to fill a projected yawning gap in the upcoming biennial budget, lawmakers in Hartford continue to consider a wide variety of revenue enhancement options. In my last column, we explored the proposed plastic-bag tax. Continue reading CTNJ/Opinion: Drastic times – let towns have their own sales taxes

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About this site

NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

About Nancy

Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.