Updated, 2:55 p.m.: Reply from Malloy spokesperson; 11:08 a.m.: Copy edit; 10:10 a.m.: Wilms comment added; 6:06 a.m.: Copy edit
NORWALK, Conn. – A developer who has made large campaign donations to Connecticut Democrats said he needs to take over the stalled Wall Street Place Project while Dannel Malloy is still governor, e-mails obtained by NancyOnNorwalk reveal. City officials say that’s because the state is willing to “increase its investment” in the project.
In a January 9 e-mail to other City officials, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency director Tim Sheehan wrote:
“…as we all know JHM has very strong ties to the Malloy administration and time is ticking on that clock. While I may disagree with JHM on certain issues, his point that this project needs to be reactivated under this governor, I fully agree with.”
Greenwich developer John H. McClutchy’s initials are JHM. McClutchy, and his son Todd McClutchy, were selected as the new builders of Wall Street Place Phase I by Citibank after it foreclosed on POKO Partners, the original developer. McClutchy has been in talks with Norwalk officials about modifying and re-starting the project (See story).
McClutchy donated $165,000 to the CT Central State Democratic Committee by February 2015, according to Jim Cameron. Todd and John McClutchy, Janet McClutchy and JHM Group have donated a total of $32,500 this year, according to Open Secrets.
The original project which stalled and went into foreclosure included $8.64 million in 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits. A February e-mail from Sheehan to city officials appears to say that state financial commitments are again required “to make any project workable”:
“Citibank, JHM, or any other owner of the project property proposing to change the terms of the LDA will have to go before the Council and RDA for approval. Both the City and RDA have been clear that the proposal for an additional $2 million in contributions from Norwalk and a decrease in parking are not acceptable and not something we could recommend at this time.
“The City has issued a default and we are awaiting a revised proposal.”
NancyOnNorwalk contacted Gov. Dannel Malloy’s press office, State Sen. Bob Duff (D-25), and State Reps. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Fred Wilms (R-142) on Sunday for comment regarding the possibility of more state funding for Wall Street Place.
In an e-mail, Malloy’s director of communications Kelly Donnelly referred the enquiry to the Department of Housing, adding: “It’s well known that growing Connecticut’s affordable housing stock has been a top priority of Governor Malloy, demonstrated by the creation of the Department of Housing and his track record of building more affordable housing units during his tenure than the previous three governors combined.”
Wilms replied: “I am against new State funding for the failed POKO project. After 13 years of never-ending failure, we need to finally say that enough is enough. The project needs to be made (for the first time in his history) economically viable. The City can achieve this by lowering the affordable housing requirement plus assigning Yankee Doodle garage spaces for parking.”
The e-mails quoted in this story were obtained by NancyOnNorwalk via a Freedom of Information Act request. The City of Norwalk and its Redevelopment Agency are stakeholders in the Wall Street Place project via a Land Disposition Agreement which abandoned part of a City street to POKO Partners, the developer, and allowed the project to be built on land that had been a municipal parking lot.
“Despite the ever-changing real estate climate, JHM, backed by years of experience, knows how to find and create opportunities, and realize value from unrealized potential. Inevitably, in every market there are developments that have been poorly thought out, located, designed, built, financed and/or operated. JHM’s reputation of finding the value added in spite of these conditions has created a network of real estate and financial professionals that continue to funnel opportunities to its attention. These properties provide JHM with the opportunity to use its creative skills, knowledge, experience and financial resources to assess opportunities and create value propositions, to overcome deficiencies, and position them to attain and realize significant value. JHM and its partners, investors and financiers continue to benefit from its ability to successfully navigate these situations with maximum success.”