NORWALK, Conn. — It’s an opportunity to look at the SoNo Wharf site a whole new way.
“The street wall that we know on Water Street, which is the IMAX Theater, is going to no longer exist,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said Tuesday, in requesting additional work for Stantec.
Redevelopment agreed, authorizing a $33,500 amendment to an existing contract with Stantec, an international professional services company in the design and consulting industry, to begin work on a SoNo Wharf master plan even if construction would be years away.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to demolish the Maritime Aquarium’s IMAX Theater, changing the entire look of a prominent intersection, which the city has worked hard to upgrade, Sheehan and other said.
“To leave this corner dead is going to be a real problem if we don’t have a real understanding of what we are going to do,” Sheehan said. “We need to get community consensus, we need to get a master plan.
Stantec’s been working on the Harbor Loop Trail; three or four years ago the company looked at the Maritime area to study a possible boardwalk link, but that project was shelved when the state decided to rebuild the Walk Bridge, Sheehan said.
ConnDOT will keep a 40-foot easement where the IMAX is now and, “We need to find out how all of this is interacting,” he said.
Stantec Vice President Gary Sorge, in a memo to the Redevelopment Agency, explained:
“Stantec will conduct stakeholder and neighborhood engagement meetings to determine preferred and best uses of the property and, subsequently, prepare concept alternatives depicting uses and amenities for review with the Agency.
“Stantec will prepare concept plan alternatives and perspective renderings to illustrate future uses of the site. Uses may include multi-functional plaza space, existing facilities to some capacity, a waterfront walkway access point, and other potential public uses that are desired. With the demolition of the theater, a comprehensive study of the entire space is needed with a focus on program flexibility, aesthetics, waterfront access, appropriate waterfront uses, and preservation of view corridors and boat docks for Long Island Sound excursions.”
“Starting now is appropriate time, to get the planning work underway so when the state leaves we aren’t just starting the process,” Sheehan said. “Because, quite frankly, that corner can’t stand to be inactivated for another five or six years.”