NancyOnNorwalk on Friday contacted Wall Street Neighborhood Association Chairwoman Nancy McGuire and asked her to elaborate on the Association’s comment, in a petition, that a new mural on Isaac Street has “provided a long-missing sense of pride in our neighborhood.” This is her response.
We have a lot to celebrate on Wall Street. Young entrepreneurs like Chris Wyant, Casey MacDonald, Rene Soto and Sherri Gallina have chosen to locate their new businesses in our neighborhood. The Wall Street Theater is open and hosting weekly shows, and restaurants like the Magnolia Room and Peaches are bringing in music lovers and diners from all over Fairfield County. The Isaacs Street lot is now available to the businesses who have all but closed from the lack of its availability; and established businessmen like Paul at Café Aroma are sustaining their businesses despite the lingering Citibank construction site. I actually took a YOGA class tonight – an amazing start to the weekend, especially for a middle-aged woman, and I highly recommend it to anyone reading this.
POKO and its failed “Wall Street Place” are a thing of the past. Duleep’s contractor has closed up her building for the winter and taken down scaffolding. She has hired a broker to market her empty retail spaces. The residents and business owners who have endured this graffiti-ridden site for seven years are simply relieved. Our days on Wall Street now are filled with young athletes from Kong Cross Fitness doing their sprint intramurals around the block, coffee lovers sipping their Macchiatos on the white sofas in front of the café, family men and their sons in barber shops after work, and musicians and artists of all sorts walking back and forth from restaurant to studio, to coffee cafe, to car.
Jason Milligan, the source of much agony on the part of policy wonks, purchased Phase Two of the POKO development , promptly cleared away the construction debris on the Isaacs Parking Lot, and replaced the roof on the blighted Chinese Restaurant across from the library. Moisture issues have been remediated. The vacant retail units rebuilt, and two new tenants have been found for this once desolate Eye Sore.
I belong to a business networking group in Stamford. I live in Stamford. I go to church in Noroton. And from all over the place, business, church, my neighbors, people are talking about Norwalk’s renaissance. This is not by accident. People are hearing the good news of changes in this beautiful town. Despite some naysayers, the new mall, the Wall Street Theater, and the Waypointe development have been a blessing for Norwalk.
The Wall Street Neighborhood Association is not a political organization. It is not Democratic or Republican, Straight or Gay, or even a non-profit organization. It is a community of residents, businesses, and building owners who have decided that our common goals outweigh our differences. We are encouraging changes that will help us maintain sustainable businesses, enjoy our riverfront, make the most of living in an urban environment, and feel safe when we walk our streets.
Government regulations are certainly helpful and important. But the languishing Wall Street blight was the result of too many rules and regulations that simply left decades of business stagnation and decline in Norwalk’s famous Downtown. It wasn’t quick. It was like a snowball sliding down a hill from 1960 to 2011. I like to think that Duleep’s fire in 2010 was the final match that torched the forest. The view of Wall Street over the last decades is what happens when people wait for government to “fix it.” Duleep’s building may have been a thorn in the street’s side, but the foreclosed POKO failure was the catalyst that pulled us together.
Our government leaders should keep the focus on creating attractive streetscapes, improving infrastructure that attracts investment, and approving zoning applications that bring job-generating-grand-list-growing small businesses to Norwalk.
Today, Wall Street has a lot to celebrate. But some businesses are choosing to finally close their doors. While they recognize the change, it simply time to move on to new ventures. For these owners, it has been too many years sailing up wind against the tide. The fact that the new artistic murals make up 100 percent versus 50 percent of a building side or have business names or not, should not be the focus when entire generations of Norwalk families are leaving for better Main Streets.
These murals are creative, eye-catching and reflect the urban grittiness that makes up our artistic foundation – from artists, to musicians, to residents, to businesses to restaurants. The pride is that everyone down here is picking up the ball with their talents and moving it down the field. And we are doing it together.