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GGP releases video simulating The SoNo Collection

NORWALK, Conn. — You can get a drone’s eye view of The Sono Collection in GGP’s glitzy new video – including the glitzy interior.

GGP execs have tried unsuccessfully twice to show city officials this video. Perhaps they will have better luck at Thursday’s Common Council Planning Committee meeting, where the debate about GGP’s request to excise the hotel planned for its development will truly begin.

GGP has agreed to pay Norwalk $3.5 million in exchange for dropping the hotel plan, a figure derived by calculating how much property tax the hotel would have generated over the next two decades. GGP is also seeking to revise the definition of Class A anchor, to include the possibility of “high-end entertainment concepts, high-end fitness centers, high-end or specialty grocers and high-end furniture stores.”

Retail is changing, generating many news stories. A Bloomberg story, headlined “Desperate Malls Turn to Concerts and Food Trucks,” states that mall owners are hosting events in their parking lots to draw customers. That includes GGP, the story said, shedding some light on the mall of the future with this excerpt:

“Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive officer of GGP, said at a conference this month that the perfect mall now would include one department store, a supermarket, an Apple store, a Tesla store and businesses that started out online, like Warby Parker, the purveyor of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses.”

The SoNo Collection may include a store that rents outdoor power equipment, GGP shareholder Rick Reardon said at Monday’s District B meeting.

Georganna Rucker also attended that meeting. The South Norwalker walked in expressing doubt and concern about the plan to drop the hotel, but at the end of the meeting was back onboard with her longstanding support for the property.

South Norwalk needs the $3.5 million, she said.

Her own neighborhood could use it, Rucker said before the meeting; the affordable housing complex she lives in, across the street from the South Norwalk train station, is deteriorating but residents don’t have the money to fix it, she said, expressing a plan to attempt to get funding for new windows and siding.

GGP’s video has one odd moment: about 15 seconds in it shows high-rises in Norwalk, behind the mall. Perhaps it’s Merritt 7.

It provides a great simulation of the three-story tall atrium, the rooftop plaza, the North Water Street underpass and the view of the parking garage from the vicinity of Oyster Shell Park, including a rather modern-looking train on the Danbury line.

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

9 comments

THE TRUTH May 3, 2017 at 8:37 am

Nice propaganda video. It kind of reminds me of the dump known as the Stamford Town Center.

Hawkeye May 3, 2017 at 10:34 am

The last official press release from Nortstroms is dated February 26th 2015 in reference to taking 150,000 sq ft of space….also the press release has vanished from the “News” section of the corporate website.

Bloomigdales announced on March 31st 2015 that they would be taking 3 floors of 150,00 sq ft!… no comment other than the projection of the opening is pushed out a year to the Fall of 2019….

Jump to January 2017…
“Macy’s (NYSE: M) (Parent Company of Bloomingdales) is in the process of closing 65 stores through this summer, amid other restructuring actions, at a cost of 10,000 jobs, including 10 in the Northeast. The company is keeping intact Connecticut’s contingent of Macy’s stores which includes locations in Stamford, Trumbull, Danbury and Milford. Macy’s stated plans to close another 30 stores in the coming few years as leases reach their expiration, without stating locations.”

WHAT ARE THEY SAYING NOW?? OVER 2 YEARS LATER??

The city should declare eminent domain, take the property and develop it into some sort of open space park that connects Matthews Mansion and Oyster Shell into the Maritime Aquarium area.

Get the State to kick up a few bucks from the Walk Bridge demolition that is going to turn SoNo into a warzone for 3-5 years.

McKeen Shanogg May 3, 2017 at 11:28 am

Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see an elevator in the video. I saw only one pair of escalators. Escalators are a pain for people with a child in a stroller as they have to fold up the stroller. Many people with disabilities can’t safely use an escalator. How easy is it going to be to get from one level to another? The Stamford Town Center has prominent elevators that are part of the design, and customers w/kids in strollers use them all the time.

Debora Goldstein May 3, 2017 at 7:17 pm

None of this justifies the removal of the hotel or trying to sneak in other non-retail, non-mixed use uses under the guise of clarifying what a class A mall is.

In fact, based upon what they are projecting for the returns on this property to investors in their recent investor call, we should be bumping them up to A+ or higher on the guarantee to not challenge the tax assessment. Currently the agreements are defining class A as being at $425 per sq ft or higher.

Sandeep Lakhmi Mathrani, GGP Inc. – CEO and Director “Yes. We’ve said it’s an 8% to 10% return. The rents we’re getting today would demonstrate that the retailers feel that the sales productivity of the center will be in the high $700s.”

Concerned May 4, 2017 at 9:06 am

Nice presentation but it would be nice if they would include street names to determine the point of view. And I appreciate the outdoor parking, where exactly would that be located?

Christine M. May 4, 2017 at 9:25 am

Just looking at the opening shot of this video, I see that most of Norwalk’s demographics are not represented here. And this is good for Norwalk…?

diane c2 May 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

After the city took private properties for private development every one of the three developers have failed to get a shovel in the ground except demolition.
The time has come to stop caving in to one-way contracts and incompetent developers.
GGP had a contract with city to build as per the URP and LDA. They have failed. TIME TO TAKE BACK 95/7 BY EMINENT DOMAIN. Karma.

diane c2 May 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Mall Public Hearings

Proposed Modifications to SoNo Collecton Mall–
Land Disposition Agreement and Urban Renewal Plan

Planning Committee Tuesday May 9, 2017 at 6:00 pm Council Chambers
Planning Committee Monday May 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm Room 231.
Redevelopment Agency Wednesday May 24, 2017 at 7:pm Room A300.

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