NORWALK, Conn. – Think of the condominiums next to O’Neill’s Pub on West Avenue when it comes to the look planned for the proposed Head of the Harbor development on Wall Street.
That’s according to architect Ray Sullivan, who explained the concept to the Zoning Commission recently: The two-building complex would feature a public plaza in the middle, positioned in such a way as to provide a view of the Norwalk River for people traveling down East Wall Street.
The larger of the two buildings would be four stories high and feature parking underneath, and have 45 apartments. The second building would be three stories high, with five apartments on each floor, and office and amenity space on the ground floor. That would include six workforce housing units, three in each building.
The plans were filed Oct. 23, and the Zoning Commission is considering a zoning change and a special permit for the project. It was thought that a public hearing might happen in January, but that agenda is not yet available. The Public Works Committee is having a related public hearing Jan. 6, but it’s not likely to draw much interest – it concerns the abandonment of the long-closed Smith Street.
Attorney Albert Vasko said the plan has been 10 years in the making. Sullivan said planners walked the road and tried to figure out what the view is after the original idea of one long building was nixed, so they could place the pedestrian plaza in just the right place.
“We feel pretty comfortable we’ve got the right view corridor and that when you are either walking or driving down East Wall it won’t look too massive and we’ll actually have an opening between the buildings,” he said.
The project includes 92 parking spaces for residents and 15 spaces for city use – the Norwalk Historical Society is counting on them for its Mill Hill project. A planned staircase would come down the hill and end opposite the plaza, Sullivan said.
The main entrance to the complex would be on Hubbell’s Lane. Smith Street would be one way off of Wall Street and would provide access to eight of the parking spaces, with signage and a changing road width discouraging wrong-way drivers, traffic Engineer Michael Galante said. Bollards would also guide cars and create a nautical feel. The traffic light at Hubbell’s Lane, East Wall Street and East Avenue would not change.
Landscape architect Earl Goven said the plaza would have a handicapped-accessible route adjacent to the larger building and a waterfront walk with a public pergola and built-in benches. The pergola will be built with beams from the original building, he said. Rainwater from the roofs will be directed to rainwater gardens, negating the need for Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and Army Corps of Engineers permits as there is no single outflow, he said.
Developers hope to begin construction in the spring.