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Norwalk roundup: Real estate, forward-thinking thoughts

It’s a Norwalk milestone: the long-dilapidated building at 45 Wall St. appears to be nearly ready for use.

Work continues inside 45 Wall St. on Thursday, visible through an open door.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some Norwalk items of note:

  • Duleep’s space ‘available’ – but not for sale
  • Currie’s for sale
  • Kleppin gives POCD update
  • Hempstead: Norwalk is a bedroom community for Stamford

 

‘Available’ – but not for sale

“Ganga Building(s) for sale!!!” was the subject line of a news tip NancyOnNorwalk received from a reader this week.

Actually, commercial space at 45 Wall St. and 29 Wall St. is available for rent.

NAI Signature Group does not list a price on the spaces, but says nearly 1,600 square feet is available on the first floor of 29 Wall St., a “restaurant/tavern/bar/nightclub or other,” and two suites are available at 41-45 Wall St., with 1,250 square feet in one and 1,350 square feet in the other.

The building at 29 Wall St.

Both buildings are owned by Ganga Duleep. The building at 45 Wall has sat dilapidated since it was heavily damaged by a fire in August 2010, drawing scathing criticisms that it was holding the neighborhood back. The city cited it for blight but no fines have been levied, with Norwalk Chief Building Official Bill Ireland consistently reporting that progress was being made, despite neighborhood reports to the contrary.

On Thursday, Ireland forwarded an email he received May 31 from contractor Demetrios Panteleakis listing the status of renovations:

  • “-all framing ground level complete but for facade awaiting redevelopment approval
  • “-rough plumbing complete
  • “-rough electrical complete
  • “-sprinkler piping 80% complete”

 

On Saturday, a worker was leaning out of a third-floor window opening, apparently scraping paint from the window frame.

 

Also for sale

Currie’s Tire.

Other interesting real estate listings include:

  • 599 West Ave., a.k.a. Currie’s Tire, price not disclosed
  • 7 Wall St., a.k.a. Peach’s Southern Pub & Juke Joint, price not disclosed
  • 455 West Ave., the oriental rug store, listed at $1.64 million
  • 467 Connecticut Ave., the Chick-Fil-A, listed at $3.75 million
  • 29 North Main St., The Palace Production Center, listed at $2.9 million
  • 696 West Ave., which includes a CVS and the Shoe-Mart, listed at $9.2 million
  • 22 Cross St., Rallye Tire, listed at $985,000
  • 42 Van Zant, listed at $2.8 million
  • 65 Van Zant, listed at $1.3 million
  • 83 East Ave., a medical building, listed at $5.25 million

 

Developer Paxton Kinol has said that he tried to buy 455 West Ave. for use in the Waypointe development but gave up because the owner “just keeps negotiating.”

Regarding the Palace, Nancy McGuire’s listing states, “Award-winning Palace Production Center is the most extensively outfitted production/digital media building between Boston and New York. This has been the home to one of the largest and most well-known new media companies on the east coast.”

 

POCD update

There have been some consistent themes as Norwalk gathers input for a new 10-year city-wide master plan, also known as a Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin told Common Council Planning Committee members last week.

People want Norwalk to be more mobile, more bike and pedestrian friendly and Stantec, the consulting firm hired to help with the effort, is working on ideas for connecting the “little nodes and village areas” that are Norwalk, he said.

The visioning series has concluded. Kleppin said he’d given Stantec marching orders to draft a POCD that is concise and actionable, not a laundry list of thoughts. He’s hoping for ideas on economic development, given that Norwalk is interconnected with Stamford and the northeast region.

A draft will be provided to the Council and the POCD Oversight Committee before it goes public, and a final draft developed for review in two public sessions, he said.

 

Hempstead voices concerns about apartments

Common Council member Doug Hempstead (R-District D) asked if maybe the new POCD could list the positives and negatives of apartments versus single family homes, and the effects they have on specific neighborhoods.

The plan will talk about housing needs, in terms of affordability but may not get to the level of detail Hempstead was looking for, Kleppin replied.

Kleppin said he’d been to an economic development meeting, where a Stamford economic development coordinator talked about apartment buildings.

Companies relocate to Stamford because of the density that’s been created, with employers liking the concentration downtown in proximity to transit, he reported the Stamford official as saying, adding, “that same narrative has been playing out in other areas as well.”

“That’s great. Stamford has a couple of abilities to do things that Norwalk does not,” Hempstead replied, asserting that Norwalk does not have available office space nor the ability to build campuses and offices.

“It seems that Norwalk has turned back into somewhat of a bedroom community for Stamford,” Hempstead said.

Kleppin said he wanted to do a study of Norwalk’s industrial zones, but the city denied funding.

15 comments

Victor Cavallo June 13, 2018 at 5:15 am

“The city cited (Duleep’s building) for blight but no fines have been levied…” This after 8 years of in-your-face blight and probably the single most devastating factor in Wall Street’s redevelopment progress? Anyone see a problem here with Norwalk’s zoning enforcement? Where are all the Dianes, and Debbies, and Donnas and Lisas on this particular land use problem when we need them to speak out with appropriate indignation?

Rick June 13, 2018 at 12:39 pm

We have Laoise King, These poor souls living next door to Firetree on Quintrad ave are waiting for the city to let them know they lost they are hosting soon patients 15 feet from their children’s bedrooms.

Guess all talk from city hall is done.

cowards, simliar to what your suggesting from Zoning Victor.

Where is the Republicans , most are waiting for a new mayor its up to them now, activists need s city leader not a repeat offender.

Now has Dulleep received tax incentives to continue or has the city run out of incentives?

Patrick Cooper June 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm

@Victor Cavallo – regarding ordinance enforcement – I agree with your sentiments. I drove past this forever-eyesore this morning, and while space may be available – it still looks like a dilapidated building no-one would inhabit. Perhaps that’s the impression plywood over all the windows provides. No explanation for the lack of fines, either. Does someone have some photo’s or something?

The youngest member of the common council – Eloisa Melendez – is chairman of the Ordinance Committee – and represents the district most impacted by this building. Why is she silent here? I’ve never seen a public comment from her on these issues, ever, period.

As for your call to the advocates, why – Victor – is it their sole responsibility? From my vantage point – they have done and continue to do plenty of the heavy lifting. Where is the “opposition party” spokesperson? Is silence a strategy? Apparently it’s working for Eloisa.

Lisa Brinton Thomson June 13, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Victor, What are you talking about? I’ve called out that property regularly and pointed out the city’s lack of enforcement of safety code, resulted in a couple of people suing the city, when they had to jump from the second or third floors. Of course, this sort of stuff goes into executive session, like everything else in town. No enforcement of ordinances, no accountability, no land use plans, no forecasting, no economic models, no transparency…. I could go on and on. At least we’re consistent.

Victor Cavallo June 13, 2018 at 6:42 pm

@ Patrick Cooper: I believe that Ganga Duleep has been granted a soto voce informal immunity against “prosecution” of her land use failings for the purpose of avoiding the perception of “persecution” of a member of a protected class. Given Ms. Duleep’s community service regarding Ryan Park and her political affiliation, I believe these were also factors in granting her a virtual license to retard the recovery of Wall Street for eight years; six years too many to have legitimately blamed her failures on someone else. It also partly explains Counselperson Melendez’s benign neglect of the issue. As for your “’opposition party’ spokesperson” comment, you are correct in implying that my side of the aisle should have rallied organically to speak out and push for redress on this and other issues, independent of the evanescent self-interest to do so by a Republican candidate spox during an election. I vied to establish such a “think tank” but the task now rests with others.

@Lisa B-T: It seems that you are the default extramural “think tank” and policy spox for my side of the loyal opposition. Quite a laudable achievement. I shouldn’t suffer any intramural consequences for admitting as much; should I?

Hugh Sling June 13, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Laws aren’t enforced in Norwalk. Blight and illegal apartments proliferate. I’ve heard that cases that make it to a court hearing are usually dismissed when the defendant points to “selective enforcement” i.e. here’s pics of 10 comparable properties whose owners aren’t being cited.
Motorists routinely zoom through neighborhoods at 3x the speed limit, while the police who should be ticketing them are hanging out at construction sites. Why is this town so bereft of enforcement?

Debora Goldstein June 14, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Another love note from Victor Cavallo, I see.

Victor, it’s flattering that you think a handful people can hold back the tide of bad land use decisions and inconsistent enforcement actions by the city.

Here’s what you and the other Duleep nay-sayers fail to understand when you don’t do the due diligence that we superheroes do.

Duleep’s insurance company withheld the insurance funds for the repairs for almost three years. That was the starting gun for her to take action. Not many of us will hire contractors without knowing we can pay for their work.

The work, once begun, proceeded in fits and starts, mostly due to the City’s need to inspect different phases, and due to VERY slow approval of certain permits.

And for the rest, the blight fines can be held in abeyance as long as some work is proceeding on the building. The fact that Duleep hasn’t been fined demonstrates that the work has been proceeding–maybe not as fast as some would like, but proceeding.

Only a city as petty as Norwalk would punish a property owner for experiencing a disastrous loss and a protracted settlement from their insurance company.

One has to wonder who Norwalk is going to blame for its stagnant grand list growth once the Duleep building isn’t an issue anymore.

Hugh Sling June 14, 2018 at 8:59 pm

@Deb Goldstein: The building was an unsightly hovel long before the fire. The “disastrous loss” was the loss experienced by the tenants who sustained horrible injuries when jumping out of a window to avoid being burned to death. Duleep’s insurance company probably withheld payment for the same reason that the city settled the fire victims’ civil suit: the building had code violations that were being ignored by the city, and the evidence pointed to arson committed by a person who gained easy access to the unsecured premises.

Hugh Sling June 15, 2018 at 1:22 am

And 5 years since the insurance company paid her? A 30-story building can be built in half that time. The truth about the fire and its aftermath is a very dirty story that has been covered up. The people who know the hard facts of it aren’t going to talk.

jlightfield June 15, 2018 at 8:15 am

The neglect and blight of 29 and 41 Wall Street transcend administrations and started long before the tragic fire in 2010. To suggest that the insurance story is a legitimate reason for 41’s blighted status from 2010 to 2018, ignores the ever-present blighted status of 29.

And as entertaining as reading the comments here about who said with all the partisan theater, over in the real world:

1. the Norwalk Center task force took up the lack of a blight ordinance, and followed through to see if passed, and then amended to finally include commercial properties

2. official complaints about specific hazardous conditions were filed with the various city departments that included;

a. the garbage piled in doorways (multiple times)
b. the rodent issue
c. the live electrical cords hanging from windows issue (multiple times) etc.
d. eliminating safety hazards during the construction phase of 41
e. the rotted bilco door issue

Despite the tedious process of getting property owners and their tenants to be a part of making the downtown better through enforcement, there’s the community engagement aspect to get them to be a part of the neighborhood too.

Successful communities invest in themselves and build coalitions of stakeholders. Unsuccessful communities turn every issue into a partisan snipefest and blame-game.

Patrick Cooper June 15, 2018 at 9:09 am

@Deb Goldstein – much respect to your insights, and your work within the city. @JLightfield – your advocacy is admirable, we need more folks who are both paying attention, and trying to make Norwalk better.

I don’t know what’s under the rug. Don’t know the dirty details of insurance (3 years?), permitting, work rules, nor how remediation was scheduled. However – a little context: the brand new 4 billion dollar Tappan Zee bridge started construction in 2013 – and it’s finished. Compare the two projects. Tell me – how? On the surface – the explanations and excuses for an eight years and counting restoration do not seem reasonable.

Victor Cavallo June 15, 2018 at 10:16 am

@Debora: You pejoratively ascribing the “…Duleep nay-sayers..” moniker on the critics of this whole fiasco proves my point: that the City and some community organizers held fire on this problem because it involved a Duleep. Jackie Lightfield excepted; as I see here and in my Google search.

Jlightfield June 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm

@victorcavallo, thanks for noticing and googling. I think Norwalk would be a better city if more people aligned their opinions on stuff with action. A wild conversation with divergent opinions is essential to understanding most issues and working out solutions.

@patrickcooper the Tappan Zee Bridge is both howlingly funny and incredibly sad. It shouldn’t take eight years to fix a building, maintain a property, sweep a sidewalk etc. Or 5 years to replace the Brunel blvd Bridge. Or the countless other baffling instances where a little communication would help bring people to the table to make change happen. It is one of the reasons I’ve tried to make it simple for people to share info whether it’s encouraging people to use the NextDoor app, or creating the Norwalk Center google group.

Cecilia Andy June 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Why not have the P&Z director study the detrimental impacts on the grand list of commercial elder care facilities charging $5,000 – $6,000 per room or half way homes cropping up on residential streets? Perhaps this could motivate the corporation counsel to fight for residential sanctuaries rather than pursuing grandiose lawsuits with opiod manufacturers.

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