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GGP sails to Norwalk Zoning Commission approval

Wini Mola hugs GGP Vice President Doug Adams on Thursday, after the Norwalk Zoning Commission approved GGP’s request for modifications to The SoNo Collection.

NORWALK, Conn. — It’s full steam ahead for The SoNo Collection.

The Norwalk Zoning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved GGP’s requested modifications for its mall, the removal of the hotel and some parking spaces, without resistence or even any discussion. Only three members of the public spoke at the brief public hearing, their comments largely in favor of the mall.

That’s the last hurdle for GGP, in terms of city approvals.

“Now we just have to get it built,” GGP Associate Developer Rob Jakubik said after the vote, to other GGP members and a jubilant citizen.

Construction has already begun, with work on the foundation progressing at the West Avenue lot just south of Interstate 95, on either side of North Water Street.

Language changes that drew controversy at the Common Council level did not even draw questions from the Commission.

Changing the definition of retail removes ambiguities that could give later generations difficulty years from now, Attorney William Hennessey said.

Retail is “a narrow term in the world and it’s also not a defined term in the regulations,” he said.

“We thought it would be good to just point out a couple of uses that could find their way into the mall over time, certainly nothing now, but would not necessarily be considered retail to the staff, because those are definitions that pertain to those uses,” Hennessey said.

GGP Senior Designer Paul Madden said 148 parking spaces are being eliminated, all in more remote areas of the mall.

“My client is very excited and very anxious to continue the pace of construction so this facility can open in October of 2019, just a little over two years from now,” Hennessey said.

Expressing “wholehearted support” was Wini Mola, a realtor who has spoken at previous public hearings.

Likewise former Common Council member Patsy Brescia, who said, “I hope tonight is going to be the last event. I was expecting balloons or whatever, but maybe later.”

Sallie Marsico resumed her objections to the LED billboard planned to face I-95, urging the Commission to take the opportunity to reverse the approval it granted the signs last fall.

But, “It is wonderful that an outstanding developer is about to build an outstanding mall with outstanding design features and outstanding department stores on this outstanding parcel of land. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The SoNo Collection will be a success and grow in that success over time,” she said.

Hennessy’s reply was that the signs were approved in a separate application. He produced a letter from Michael McGuire to further illustrate why GGP felt it necessary to remove the hotel component from its mall.

Again, there were no questions from the Commission, and the public hearing was closed.

GGP has agreed to pay Norwalk $3.5 million in lieu of building the hotel. Attorney Eric Bernheim, special counsel to the city, told the Common Council last month that there’s an appeal period on GGP’s approvals, meaning that the money would be available at earliest the middle of July.

8 comments

Debora Goldstein June 9, 2017 at 8:32 am

Nancy,

Is there any information on the appeal process mentioned in this article?

Deb

Rick June 9, 2017 at 8:36 am

GGP Senior Designer Paul Madden said 148 parking spaces are being eliminated, all in more remote areas of the mall.Could Norwalk of used those parking spots for something else? absolutely not.

funny GGP has parking problems elsewhere

from city minutes no credit was given in todays news

The transit agency said Wednesday that fliers had been placed on GoTriangle riders’ cars saying they would be towed if parked at the mall outside the hours of six a.m. to six p.m. Monday through Friday. In a 2008 agreement between the city and the mall, Southpoint agreed to set aside 147 of its parking spots for people to park their cars and board GoTriangle buses. The mall had offered to accommodate park-and-ride vehicles when it asked the city to rezone the property in 1999.

“We thought it would be good to just point out a couple of uses that could find their way into the mall over time

The trojan Horse has just been pushed in

Too bad Norwalk wasn’t able to get the 255 million dollar Ct subsidized Amazon center paying above retail jobs also todays news

Our city shows once again low hanging fruit still exists .

Still no reason to think Norwalk has not made the best deal for its taxpayers.

Anyone from GGP suggest who the partner will be for the mall yet?

Rick June 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

Im sorry that was 1800 new jobs in Ct in one building ,imagine what that would of done for Norwalk.Giving people jobs so they could go to a GGP mall.

Tony P June 9, 2017 at 10:22 am

No questions from the Commission – really? None? Amazing. Good for GGP, I suppose – they out maneuvered City Hall.

MsB June 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm

At long last! Very exciting for Norwalk. Can’t wait to shop there! Now if we could get B&N interested…..

Disgusted June 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

The Sono Collection Mall brought to you by the Norwalk Zoning Commission. Ushering the city into the 1980’s. Looking forward to dining in the food court.

Fill Up June 12, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I can’t wait for the food court, I love Panda Express.

Did anyone else see that in the next 5 years around 20-25% of all malls will be closing?

Check out this article:
http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/02/news/economy/doomed-malls/index.html?iid=EL

Has anyone checked the credit ratings of the proposed retailers?, they may not be around when the time comes to move in.

I, too, like to ice skate uphill.

Norwalk should have put something here that is innovative and really sets a precedence for a new future.

I really hope it works out for us in Norwalk.
I think the Hotel would have been a great addition but I guess now if or when the mall fails they can knock it down and make a hotel.

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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.