NORWALK, Conn. — Drivers in South Norwalk might have to spend a few extra seconds at a traffic light once The SoNo Collection is built, General Growth Properties Senior Developer Doug Adams said Monday.
Adams was fielding questions about potential mall traffic from Diane Cece at the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Association (CNNA) meeting, which drew about 30 people, many of them new faces to CNNA.
“There are times where certain turns, you may have to wait longer, whether it’s the second cycle through the light, but it is not a material, like, ‘Oh my God,’ as Larry (Cafero) said, gridlock. … Overall, you are talking about that level of additional wait,” Adams said, specifying 6 to 8 seconds.
“They did more of an in-depth job than we expected them to,” Cece said. “There were a number of people here who haven’t been to any of their presentations, so they really did a kind of an in-depth thing.”
“They forget about the traffic I expect to see when 95 is standing still, getting off at Exit 16 and coming out over the Stroffolino Bridge, to make their deliveries, and also their retail customers,” George Hensinger said on his way out the door. “That’s going to put a burden on East Norwalk and East Avenue, which they didn’t include in their traffic study. All they said was they’re going to try to get a count at the Stroffolino Bridge. … He said the whole traffic thing is yet to be debated. The study hasn’t been done and that’s coming but he didn’t even mention East Norwalk, so I made sure it was in there.”
While Spinnaker studied eight intersections when it got approval for the previous development planned on the 95/7 site, at the intersection of West Avenue and Interstate 95, GGP studied 26, Attorney Larry Cafero said during the presentation.
Did you know that intersections are given grades from A to F? Cafero said he didn’t know that until he worked for GGP – every intersection in New York City is an F, he said.
“It still works, but it’s an F,” he said.
An A means no traffic, Cafero said.
The intersections near the proposed mall are predicted to be “C’s” on Friday nights and Saturdays, Adams said.
“You want traffic but you want to manage it. That’s really what we feel we have done with this plan,” Adams said.
GGP had considered a roundabout, Adams said, in response to a suggestion from the audience. That would take time and wouldn’t be likely to get approval from the state, he said.
Other questions included parking. The spaces would be 9 feet wide and there will be closed circuit television in the garage, Adams said. He also talked about parking apps that may be available when the mall opens as expected in October 2018, likening them to E-Z Pass, or perhaps a Google Maps app that would tell drivers where they can find a parking space.
Mike Mushak said he hoped the parking garage wouldn’t have too much screening on it, as it would block the view.
“I agree, if you dress up too much it can sort of draw attention to itself that way,” Adams said.
“We hope to be through zoning and design review the first half of this year,” Adams said. “It’s very important for us to get into the ground as early as possible this year.”
Cafero said malls open in April or October.
If you remember, in the previous development “AIG was going to open and take one of the big office buildings. … Then something happened in 2008, in October, and AIG was no longer, so they missed that whole window,” Cafero said.
One woman asked what kind of stores would go in.
“Are we talking Forever 21 stuff?” she asked.
“You can look at the Westchester. It’s not the super-high end. It is upscale,” Adams said.
There are select stores in the area, but, “They don’t have the critical mass,” Adams said.
“Those fashion retailers like to be grouped together, they feed off each other,” Adams said.
GGP has an office in South Norwalk, and a model will be available for viewing soon, Adams said.
“I like it,” Judith Dominguez said, as she was leaving. The mall would provide recreation for her children, ages 1, 6 and 10, she said.
“I personally was hoping they’d get more into the traffic study,” Cece said. “They only focused on West Avenue in their impact area, but they did 26 intersections in all… but we didn’t really talk about that.”
“They did say there’s going to be more meetings, public hearings,” Cece said.