Updated, 2:30 p.m.: photo arrangement changed; 6:17 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s a roundup of newsworthy items:
- Milligan’s new mural features alternative design for ‘POKO’
- Library launches survey, online and in print
- Bloomingdale’s to start construction; Norwalk bemoans loss of Route 1 paint job
Milligan changes Isaac Street aesthetics
The side of an Isaac Street building has been transformed into a canvas depicting an alternate future.
It took an unnamed artist two days to paint a mural at 21 Isaacs St., starting on the rainy Tuesday and completing it Wednesday, real estate broker Jason Milligan said late Wednesday. The building was previously hidden behind a blighted building.
A combination of people came up with the concept, Milligan said. “We have ideas of how that corner should look and this is kind of an artistic rendering.”
“That corner” is the corner of Wall Street and Isaac Street, now dominated by the partially-completed Wall Street Place phase I, wrapped in Tyvek. Milligan’s version shows a series of separate buildings occupied by entrepreneurs who are currently enlivening the area.
The mural on the side of Electrical Wholesalers (EW) is adjacent to the parking lot formerly owned by the City that Milligan bought recently from Richard Olson of POKO Partners, prompting a lawsuit. The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the City have sued the pair, alleging a violation of the Land Disposition Agreement for the property in the sale.
Milligan recently demolished an old building at 21 Isaac St. This, too, is in dispute, with Milligan charging that the City tried to improperly void his demolition permit and the lawsuit claiming that he violated City ordinances in the demolition.
“I am trying to do as many things as I possibly can to help the area,” Milligan said. “I’d love to be playing full court, full time, full-on offense. Meaning, doing lots of stuff, but I am getting blocked with the dentist, I am getting blocked going to different departments, I am getting blocked, blocked, blocked, sued.”
A dentist would like to rent space from Milligan but current Zoning regulations prohibit first floor medical offices in the Central Business District A Zone. This may change soon, as the West Avenue/Wall Street plan that is getting its finishing touches is said to propose allowing first floor medical offices.
The artist didn’t want to be identified, he said.
“There’s a big arts scene down here and you can thank Jackie (Lightfield) for getting that going,” Milligan said. “There’s a lot of musicians and this opportunity presented itself and I thought it would be an awesome idea. Then I was presented with (a) concept and I said absolutely and that was a good wall for it.”
Milligan is also fixing up the parking lot, with sealcoating and new striping.
“I hope to do more but this mural I hope is like a little progress,” he said. “It’s something nice to look at. It is certainly a stark contrast to what was there three-and-a-half months ago.”
Norwalk Library seeks opinions
You can weigh in on the future of the Norwalk Library by spending five minutes (or less) on a survey, according to a press release.
“Now that we have secured on-site parking and preserved for the next five years an opportunity for physical expansion at Belden Avenue, we are launching this second phase of our planning project for the ‘Library of the Future’ by inviting members of the Norwalk community to recommend their vision for the library’s future development,’” former Mayor Alex Knopp, President of the Library Board of Directors, said in the release.
The city recently settled a lawsuit against Milligan, spending $460,000 to acquire a 6-year-option to buy 11 Belden Ave. The parking lot next to the Norwalk Public Library was subsequently upgraded and expanded.
The library planning coincides with Wall Street area redevelopment efforts, the press release said.
“The NPL serves as the anchor of the Wall Street area and should help to attract the type of entrepreneurial businesses, cultural ventures and residential growth that the City desires here,” Knopp said in the release.
“The library’s previous strategic plan was completed in 2002 and the main library was last renovated in 1982,” said Christine Bradley, Library Director. “It’s time to plan the future of our library by surveying community opinions as widely as possible. We’ll be inviting our library card holders to take the survey on-line and we’re asking as many organizations and networks as we can identify to circulate our survey to their members,” Bradley said.
Library Development Solutions, a “leading Connecticut library consulting firm that had been engaged by the NPL during the 2002 strategic planning project,” helped develop the survey for a $26,000 consulting fee, funded by the Norwalk Library Foundation through private donations, the release said. Library Development Solutions will assist in the planning for eight to 12 months.
LDS will also consider Norwalk’s changing demographics and the digital revolution, the release said. Once the survey’s results are analyzed, consultants will facilitate small focus group meetings, interview elected leaders and “work with the Board and staff members to create a road map for the success of the library over the next several years,” according to the release.
Library volunteers have already been asked to describe an “Amazing Norwalk Public Library,” and, according to the release, suggested:
- Enhance the architecture of the former Carnegie Library
- Create an open modern space with comfortable furniture
- Expand the auditorium
- Create plaza and community space inside and out
- A coffee shop
- Flexible design that enables easy changes in room utilization for the future
“The survey is just the beginning,” Assistant Director Sherelle Harris is quoted as saying. “We are on our way to becoming a world-class library system in service to our residents. Library patrons who use either the Belden Avenue facility or the South Norwalk Branch are invited to fill out the survey.”
“The survey is available online at the library’s website at www.norwalkpl.org, and on our Facebook page, or go to the survey directly at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Norwalkpl,” according to the press release. “Or visit the Main Library or the SoNo Branch to use one of the library computers or fill out a printed copy available from the circulation desk. A drawing for an iPad Mini will also be held for all survey participants.”
Traffic Authority tidbits
NancyOnNorwalk contributor Harold Cobin sat in on last week’s Traffic Authority, where he learned about progress of mall construction and a state paving snafu.
Brookfield Properties Retail Group, formerly GGP, builds the outside of its mall while its tenants are responsible for constructing their retail space, Doug Adams has said at multiple meetings. If you’ve been driving by there, you know: the mall’s exterior is coming along. In November, anchor Bloomingdales will begin construction in its space.
The SoNo Collection is expected to open about a year from now.
The state paved over the ‘Don’t Block The Box’ box markings on Route 1 at France Street. The “Don’t Block the Box” markings were installed at the intersection of France Street and Route 1 in mid-2016 with the goal of reducing congestion at that difficult intersection. The city wants the state to pay to repaint the markings, Cobin said.