Updated, 5:35 p.m. and 8:07 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. – Some development related items for you:
- Milligan claims Citibank has lost POKO’s tax credits
- Spinnaker’s New Haven development echoes Norwalk mall decision
- Normally silent P&Z opines on Milligan
Whither POKO’s tax credits?
Real estate broker Jason Milligan says he was told by Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein that the tax credits issued to “POKO,” officially referred to as Wall Street Place phase I or the “Parcel 2A LDA,” will not be renewed.
The funding stack compiled by POKO Partners for Wall Street Place includes $8.64 million in 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The tax credits expire on Dec. 31, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority Communications Director Lisa Kidder told NancyOnNorwalk on Nov. 16.
“CHFA is aware there is a potential developer and we are waiting a formal request to address the credits,” she said on Aug. 30.
On Nov. 15, Kidder said CHFA has “not received a formal request from Wall Street Place regarding the Low Income Housing Tax Credits.”
The project would need Zoning approval to apply for tax credits. The project is out of compliance because of its expected parking was moved to Phase II, on land now owned by Milligan.
NancyOnNorwalk emailed CHFA on Aug. 30 to put in a Freedom of Information Act request for the allocation agreement issued to POKO Partners when it was awarded the tax credits in 2014. The request was acknowledged in a timely manner but there was silence until Nov. 15, when NoN emailed CHFA to ask again for the document.
“The documents you have requested are currently with our legal department for review. As soon as they are available, I will send them over to you,” Amy Stoto of CHFA wrote in a reply email.
Todd and John McClutchy, said to be Citibank’s preferred developer for Wall Street Place, did not reply to a Nov. 16 email asking about Milligan’s claim regarding Evonne Klein and the tax credits. Neither did Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan and a Citibank communications person. Dan Arsenault of the Department of Housing referred the inquiry to Kidder.
“I suspect that Citibank and McClutchy are going to take one last desperate swing and beg for those tax credits,” Milligan said last week. “But it’s all smoke and mirrors.”
Citibank could be open to building a smaller project without the tax credits, Milligan said.
New Haven runs afoul with prominent project
Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, known here for the Ironworks apartment building and other developments, as well as for selling “95/7” to General Growth Partners who is building a mall on West Avenue, has “signed on as a partner to restart the stalled plan to build a new urbanist mini-city,” in New Haven according to the New Haven Independent.
Spinnaker is partnering with “The project’s struggling original builder, Montreal-based LiveWorkLearn Play (LWLP),” the Independent reports, explaining that Spinnaker’s been building many apartments in New Haven, including around the stalled New Haven Coliseum project.
As you read the Independent story, you find an echo of Norwalk GGP controversy, under the subhead “No-Tell: Hotel?”
Turns out the Coliseum project is planned to include a four-star hotel. Spinnaker has asked that the hotel be stricken from the project.
You’ll recall that GGP, now Brookfield, originally committed to building a small boutique hotel over Bloomingdale’s, as part of its mall, then backed out when a hotel was approved for construction next to the Norwalk Police station. Norwalk city officials allowed GGP to remove the hotel from the mall project after the company agreed to pay the City $3.5 million.
Since the New Haven deal was approved in 2013, numerous boutique hotels have been constructed, the Independent reports. Including one built by Spinnaker.
The story quotes New Haven Mayor Toni Harp as saying the city needs more conference and banquet facilities like the type you find in large hotels – sound familiar?
You can read the New Haven Independent story here.
Stalling Mr. Mango
Norwalk Planning and Zoning leaders recently pointed a finger of blame at Milligan, claiming that he needlessly prolonged the “Mr. Mango” permit dispute.
In addition, Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said, “I don’t think you can be a developer and not understand the permit process. To me, that’s kind of – asinine.”
The comments came at the Nov. 13 Planning Commission meeting. No reporters were present at the Nov. 13 discussion and NancyOnNorwalk has since obtained a recording.
City officials typically say “no comment” when asked about Wall Street Place (“POKO” to many) and/or Milligan, who is the target of a lawsuit due to his purchase of POKO phase II and III properties. In this case, Commissioner Brian Baxendale brought up POKO, commenting, “The city looks a little foolish, I would suggest.”
Kleppin responded with an explanation of Mr. Mango’s saga: Milligan was seeking a permit for Mr. Mango, actually named Luis Eduardo Londono, to open a storefront in a large building which has an official address of 97 Wall St. This was initially held up by a Zoning violation in the back of the property, a garage area referred to as 51 Isaac St.
Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wrinn said that just when P&Z was ready to use executive privilege to allow Londono to move forward, Milligan had a mural painted on the side of the building, in violation of the Zoning regulations.
“That’s when he knew the other mural was in violation. He did that when he could have just not put the mural up,” Kleppin said.
Asked about this by NancyOnNorwalk, Milligan said his first mural had not been cited when the second one was underway. He paid for three murals, as a set, he said.
“There is not a chance that I had received a violation before I started on the other one,” Milligan said.
NancyOnNorwalk found the 97 Wall St. mural partially completed five days after publishing a story that quoted Norwalk Communications Manager Josh Morgan as saying that the first mural was being cited for violating the Zoning regulations.
The artist had already started the mural, Milligan said.
Kleppin on Nov. 13 said that Milligan had been in the Planning and Zoning office, seeking Londono’s permit, and had objected when he was told that Mr. Mango needed to go to the Health Department, the fire marshall and the Building Department. He quoted Milligan as saying, “Why do I need to go to the health department?”
“Well, does anybody need to go to the Health Department when you’re dealing in food?” Kleppin asked. “What happens if there’s a salmonella outbreak? Don’t you want to know food is being handled appropriately? He doesn’t want to comply with permits. I don’t think you can be a developer and not understand the permit process. To me, that’s kind of – asinine.”
“I never once called myself a developer,” Milligan said last week to NancyOnNorwalk.
Milligan told NoN in August that he didn’t want to be referred to as a developer, that “real estate broker” was an accurate description.
Kleppin and Wrinn are “so deep in their own cesspool that they don’t realize how cumbersome the process is,” he said last week. “You shouldn’t have to be an expert in all this stuff. It should be a piece of cake.”
It shouldn’t be up to him to explain the permitting process to the small business people and budding entrepreneurs he attracts as tenants, he said.
“Why should the town hall have attitude? Because they know how to do everything and a new business doesn’t know?… I don’t know everything in detail either,” Milligan said.