NORWALK, Conn. — Nothing is changing with The SoNo Collection, Mayor Harry Rilling said.
Leaders of GGP, the developer of the mall dubbed “The SoNo Collection” now under construction on West Avenue, have agreed to a buyout proposed by Brookfield Property Partners L.P. GGP exec Kevin Berry on Wednesday clarified that “Brookfield has proposed to acquire the shares of GGP it does not already own,” which is about 34 percent of GGP stock. “The proposal is subject to a shareholder vote that will likely occur sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2018. Shareholders must approve the proposal in order for it to close,” he said.
The SoNo Collection is being built on the last parcels of the Reed Putnam Redevelopment Plan. As such, GGP had to go through a lengthy process to get the parcels’ Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) changed to allow retail as the dominant use.
When news of the deal broke, some NancyOnNorwalk readers wrote comments on NoN alleging that Brookfield will walk all over Norwalk.
“as the fog lifts the new owner of the project will propose the newest ‘vision for Norwalk’ including re-locating the aquarium to the site and the save all idea of a casino will finally emerge,” Oldsalt wrote. “Excuses will include: no one builds malls anymore, Do you want the casino to go to Bridgeport? We have already started, do you want us to stop? and my favorite ’ we will need additional accommodations from the City and State to bring this tremendous opportunity to Norwalk.”
“Here we go again. Another POKO,” McKeen Shanogg said, referring to a stalled development on Wall Street.
Berry said he’s “not sure where that even would have come from, besides pure speculation.”
“The decision to launch and develop SoNo was approved and made at the GGP Board level, which is comprised of nine individuals, three of which are with Brookfield,” Berry wrote.
“There is no change to the day to day operations of SoNo,” he wrote.
“Brookfield currently owns 35% of GGP,” Rilling wrote. “They will now be owning a controlling share. Brookfield as a major stockholder, is and has been, totally aware of all aspects of this project. Nothing is changing and we will be dealing with the same people with whom we are currently dealing. Brookfield is keeping GGP involved in building and running the SoNo Collection. This has no affect on the LDA, the anchors, or any other conditions.”
Attorney Eric Bernheim, who was hired by the city as a consultant to deal with GGP issues, on Thursday wrote, “The City of Norwalk is not aware of any changes to the approved development plan. The City anticipates that the project will continue uninterrupted and we look forward to an opening on the scheduled October 2019 target date. We do not believe the language in the Land Disposition Agreement (‘LDA’) prohibits the sale of publicly traded GGP stock. We have requested additional details from GGP regarding this transaction so we can be certain that they remain in full compliance with the terms of the LDA. We are not aware of any request to modify the terms to the approved LDA.”