Updated, 1:49 p.m.: Comment from Tod Bryant.
NORWALK, Conn. – An apartment building on Day Street is going up remarkably fast and GGP really has started construction of The SoNo Collection.
That, white fluff, and the surprising sight of a Wall Street building without a back wall are some of the photos we present to you on this Wednesday, accompanied by illuminating information from the city.
The modular construction being used to construct Maritime Village lickedty split is a Connecticut-approved method of building, Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland said.
The construction first got neighbors’ notice in April. It’s grown quite a bit since then.
“This is not the first modular ever constructed the third floor of the Norwalk Inn is all modular. It has been around for a long time and all modular are built and inspected in the factory by licensed PFS inspectors in perfect conditions,” Ireland said in an email.
Maritime Village, a Spinnaker Real Estate Partners development, was approved by the Norwalk Zoning Commission in October, 2014. It makes use of an existing manufacturing building to create a mixed use development with 57 apartments.
The Commission approved a change in May, reducing the planned office space from 9,730 square feet to 3,300 square feet, with the remainder being planned as a distillery.
Norwalk Housing Authority Choice Neighborhoods Director Tom Ivers said in April that he expected people to begin moving into the complex in July.
Wall Street façade/building
Renovations at 45 Wall St., damaged in a devastating fire nearly seven years ago, are on track, Ireland said.
The look of the building continues to shock.
“I wonder how you can remove the roof, back wall, side walls, and floors of a building and have it not considered demolition? I walked by it today and the door was open. There was nothing there,” Jackie Lightfield wrote to her Norwalk Center Google Group on Tuesday.
“It was a demolition as required,” Ireland replied.
“Why go through this tedious and lengthy demolition process without posting a notice, when the end result seems to be to rebuild a new building? The current facade can be rebuilt in the same architectural style and at least restored to its original ground floor configuration,” Lightfield replied.
Notice was not required, Ireland replied.
NancyOnNorwalk asked Ireland about the building in early May.
The back wall was removed because the engineer deemed it unsafe, he said, in an email.
Appearances to the contrary, that’s good, he said.
“The engineer was able to recognize the deficiency and recommend the proper structural method of repair using the same material that was originally installed,” Ireland said.
Renovations on the building, owned by Ganga Duleep, began in late March. That was after the city threatened Duleep and TD Bank with a possible fine of $100 a day under the commercial blight ordinance.
Insurance issues had long been a holdup. Ireland said in December that Capital for Change, Inc., had gotten involved in the project as a go-between, working with TD Bank and Duleep’s insurer to resolve issues impeding the release of insurance proceeds to the project.
“This building currently has approved state and federal preservation plans for Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits,” Norwalk Preservation Trust President Tod Bryant wrote Wednesday. “Whatever is being done must follow those plans. Building codes also play a role in what can and can’t be done to a building that was burned and then left exposed to the elements for years. In the end, this building will continue to be part of the historic Wall Street streetscape. The fact that even the façade will be saved is a miracle.”
Don’t Block the Box enforcement
There have been 76 car stops since Sept. 6 at the intersection of France Street and North Avenue, Norwalk Police Lt. Terry Blake said on May 31. The intersection of East Avenue and Interstate 95 has seen 16 car stops from Nov. 21 to May 31, he said.
Those are the two intersections that Norwalk has tried out a Don’t Block the Box road painting and traffic enforcement.
“Car stops mean a vehicle was stopped for a violation,” Blake said. There were 192 car stops on East Avenue in “that general area,” beyond the box, in that time period, he said.
“The Traffic Unit and Patrol Division have been assigned to these areas periodically since the boxes were installed,” Blake said.
White seeds flying
It’s snowing in Norwalk, a Norwalker said last week while driving onto New Canann Avenue from Super 7.
White seeds were flying through the air.
Department of Public Works Director Bruce Chimento said Monday he didn’t know what kind of tree they came from, as the tree wardens in his department are responsible for keeping trees alive, and aren’t necessarily tree experts.
He suggested that maybe they came from Cottonwood trees.
“Also known as Eastern poplar, a single cottonwood tree can release more than 25 million seeds, each suspended by a frizzy mass of cottony fibers that can transport the seed far from the tree,” the Washington Post reported in May, 2010, commenting that the “seeds set sail this time of year.”
The Mother Nature Network calls the seeds “airborne fluff.”
“No, It’s Not Snowing – 5 Facts About Cottonwood Trees,” is the headline on a weedPRO.com post.
“Believe it or not, all that fluffy cotton blowing everywhere is a sign that pollination for the cottonwood is over. A very mild allergen, cottonwoods effect sufferers BEFORE the spreading of all that fluffy cotton,” the post states.
Dig that SoNo Collection
The long-dormant plot of land at the intersection of I-95 and West Avenue is alive with activity (as shown in the photo at the top of this story).
As promised, GGP has begun digging its foundation for The SoNo Collection, ahead of getting final approval from the city for its requested modification.
The removal of a hotel from the plan does not affect the footprint of the proposed mall. In seeking approval of the change, GGP Vice President Doug Adams said the company was willing to take the risk and invest its money into the start of construction, ahead of the required yes-votes.
GGP has sailed through its approvals from the Common Council and the Redevelopment Agency. It faces the Zoning Commission for a public hearing on Thursday.
“I think Bill Ireland said there is about nine months of foundation type work, excavating and removal before they can really start going up,” Attorney Eric Bernheim, special counsel for the city, told the Commission last month. “They have plenty of stuff to do before they build the superstructure. ”