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Coppola slams Milligan after preliminary ‘POKO’ plans are revealed

A February rendering of the plan for Wall Street Place, referred to by many as “POKO.” The plan is a “train wreck,” real estate broker Jason Milligan said. Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola said, “Milligan has made it clear to all of us that the only plan for Phase I that is acceptable is a plan which involves him.”

Updated, 6:41 p.m.: PDF added

NORWALK, Conn. —Preliminary plans to restart “POKO” became public Friday, through a Freedom of Information request.

The Garden Cinema would be demolished to make way for a parking garage, as was confirmed last month by Mayor Harry Rilling.

The plans show 100% affordable housing and “garbage” parking arrangements, real estate broker Jason Milligan said. The underground parking garage has been nixed, a loss of $3.4 million in taxpayer funds, he charged.

Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola, in return, called Milligan’s interpretations “misguided” and accused Milligan of going on a publicity campaign to smear city officials, a tactic designed to benefit him financially. The plan has not been submitted and Norwalkers can “rest assured” that it will have an appropriate mix of housing and parking, he said.

The City and Redevelopment Agency have been working to restart “POKO,” officially called Wall Street Place phase I, since mid-2016, when construction halted due to a budget gap. Coppola and Rilling recently said that the plan under consideration would be made public “soon.”

Meanwhile, the City and Redevelopment Agency are in a legal battle with Milligan, who they accuse of unfair trade practices in his purchase of “POKO” phase II and III properties. A hearing on the plaintiff’s request for a temporary injunction began in December and is ongoing, with no end in sight.

Milligan on April 24 submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Planning and Zoning for any information, documentation, correspondence that had been submitted since Jan. 1 about POKO. NancyOnNorwalk also asked for renderings and information.

On Friday, Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin delivered the information.

The April 11 summary prepared by Crosskey Architects shows that Citibank’s redeveloper, JHM Group, is seeking variances or relief on a few aspects, including reducing the height to five floors and parking issues. The plan calls for “tandem” parking and an unusual number of compact car parking spaces.

The schematics, which include much data in a preliminary Zoning table, are dated Feb. 8. It’s this document which reveals that all 101 apartments would be considered workforce housing.

Wall St. Place April 2019 summary

WSP February schematic excerpt20190504

The funding stack for the 2008-approved project included $8.64 million in 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $3.5 million Department of Housing loan.

The Feb. 8 schematics show that the 2008 project had 66 market rate units, 30 apartments for people who earn 60% of the average median income and five apartments for people who earn 100% of the state median income, a 34.6% workforce housing component. The 2019 draft was for 90 apartments available for people who earn 60% of the average median income and 11 apartments available for people who make 80% of the state median income. There would be 55 parking spaces inside the building and 151 in a two-story garage on the Garden Cinemas lot, and recreation space would be reduced by 2,984 square feet from the 2008 plan.

“I think it’s a train wreck and I think that it’s a shame. First of all, the public has the right to be involved,” Milligan said.

The Common Council has met twice in executive session to discuss the plan negotiated with Citibank and JHM, and the Redevelopment Agency has held one executive session on the topic. Details are confidential.

Milligan called this “sneaking around.”

“I think they’re trying to keep this secret to protect themselves,” he said, charging that the administration wants to tidy up a plan and present it as “the best that could be done.”

It’s not the only way it could be done and officials “freaking rushed things by people,” he said.

The plan calls for 36 compact parking spaces in Wall Street Place itself; eight of those are in tandem, meaning, one car would have to pull out so access could be gained to the other car.

Emails provided by Kleppin show that these have been a topic of negotiation and concern.

Emails from JHM to PZ 19-0503

 

It’s BS, Milligan said, asking, “Have you ever tried to park a car in a compact space?”

The late Ken Olson of POKO Partners planned an underground automated parking garage for the development; that’s out.

The underground garage is said to have been funded by the $5 million grant awarded to the project by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DECD). POKO spent $3,321,811 of the grant for “construction-related expenses,” DECD spokesman James Watson said in 2017.

The garage machinery is in New Jersey, Milligan said recently. It’s worth pennies on the dollar and the “$3.4 million” is gone, he said Friday.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) did not reply to an email asking about this.

Coppola sent a blistering statement in response to Milligan’s comments. Through Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan, Coppola said:

“As everyone is keenly aware, for the better part of a year now, the City and Redevelopment Agency has been engaged in litigation with Mr. Milligan in which the public parties claim that Mr. Milligan engaged in tortious conduct by purchasing properties in the Wall Street Area which are subject to development covenants and transfer restrictions under the 2007 LDA. In fact, as a direct result of Mr. Milligan’s conduct, very advanced negotiations with Citibank last summer to get construction of Phase I moving were stymied. The City and RDA have worked tirelessly to get negotiations with Citibank back to the point they were at a year ago and Phase I back into construction. During the past year, Mr. Milligan has worked just as tirelessly to put any obstacles in place to prevent us from obtaining this goal.

“Over the past year, Mr. Milligan has gone on a publicity tour through your news outlet and others to harass, smear, defame, and embarrass public officials in what is a patently obvious attempt to get the City to capitulate to his demands so he can further his economic interests. He has used these media platforms to spread his homespun misguided narrative in a very apparent plan to undermine the public’s confidence in the City’s elected officials and employees who are working hard to get Phase I back into construction.

 “At the same time, Mr. Milligan has engaged in a legal strategy aimed at delaying the City from having its day in court and running up the cost of the litigation through continuous, well-timed motion practice challenging the court’s jurisdiction. In fact, the current status of the litigation is delayed due to the third such motion pending right now. The previous dilatory motions that were filed by Mr. Milligan were DENIED by the court.

 “Over the past year, Mr. Milligan has contacted consultants engaged in connection with the redevelopment plan making bombastic claims of wrongdoing and {threatening} legal action. In fact, as recent as this week, Mr. Milligan sent a series of communications to Citibank which has but one purpose – to stop the City from getting Phase I back into construction.

 “Mr. Milligan has relentlessly contacted City officials to try to persuade them to not engage in further discussions with Citibank to resolve any remaining issues with the Phase I project. A few weeks ago, before the Common Council met in executive session to discuss the Phase I project, Mr. Milligan reached out to all Council members on the phone and in writing to urge them not to consider Citibank’s Phase I proposal before Mr. Milligan even had an opportunity to view the proposal himself. Mr. Milligan has made it clear to all of us that the only plan for Phase I that is acceptable is a plan which involves him.

 “Now, Mr. Milligan has obtained copies of a draft plan from last February that Citibank discussed with the City’s planner. The plan that he is referring to is just a draft and an actual plan has yet to be submitted by Citibank. If the City and RDA approve a plan from Citibank, the public can be assured that any such plan will provide for an appropriate amount of public parking and will have an appropriate mix of housing units for individuals of different income levels.

 “Mr. Milligan’s initial comments regarding the plan are misguided. For example, the plan that he reviewed showed that the units would be offered at different income levels, including a significant number of units at 80% and 60% of Area Median Income levels. Many of the units that have such restrictions will still be at market rate levels. City and RDA officials are not going to comment any further on the potential plans that Citibank will be submitting for the Phase I project. We will wait until the plans are actually submitted and Citibank has an opportunity to publicly present its plan to the Common Council, RDA and Zoning Commission.”

 

The court case against Milligan resumed Monday and was promptly put on hold again, rescheduled to resume on May 23.

The plaintiffs are seeking to block Milligan’s expert witness, claiming that a witness cannot offer legal opinions on a case; Milligan on Monday charged that they were delaying. The witness should be allowed to testify, on a tight leash, with each question scrutinized to make sure it’s in accordance to legal standards, he said.

Judge Charles Lee on Monday said the plaintiffs’ attorneys were seeking more time to develop legal briefs in response to Milligan’s motion to dismiss the case.

Milligan later agreed he has been delaying the case, as he wants to rent out his property before an injunction is imposed.

“Sure, there are delays that I caused,” Milligan said Friday. “Was delaying the only goal? No, I am not delaying for delaying’s sake. I am unhappy.”

The lawsuit is BS, and “Combined with all of my delays is olive branches,” he said, pointing out that his latest email to the Council members thanks them for their service and offers them another point of view on restarting the project.

“I don’t like the lawsuits, I don’t like the ultimatums,” he said.

City officials say they have spent much time talking to Milligan.

Milligan’s first legal run-in with the City came when the Norwalk Public Library Foundation, an independent body led by former Mayor Alex Knopp, appealed his Zoning approval to build 69 apartments next to the Norwalk Public Library.

The tactic has inspired him to become an activist, he has said.

Opponents to his planned apartments criticized the parking for the project, which included the use of a parking lot across the street from the planned apartments. Critics said apartment dwellers would use the library lot instead. The case was settled when the City paid Milligan $460,000 for a six-year purchase option for his property.

A preliminary rendering showing a parking garage for Wall Street Place. The project is short on parking; the Zoning Commission allowed some of the needed parking to be moved to land that was subsequently bought by Jason Milligan. JHM plans to buy the Garden Cinemas to provide the parking needed, officials have acknowledged.

27 comments

Paul Persius May 4, 2019 at 6:17 am

Im not a developer, but is there a new ‘standard’ in apartment building which is easier and cheaper to build?? Seems like all the new apartments being built around Norwalk (and elsewhere) look exactly the same. I thought the lead photo was of the apartments on West Ave.

Jason Milligan May 4, 2019 at 6:56 am

Wow! Freedom of Information…

I do not appreciate Mario ascribing false motives. His comments would be axed if made in this section. I think the public can see with there eyes that I have helped improve the area in the last year.

100% affordable apartments in the dead center of our city is a bad plan!

Tearing down Garden Cinema would be a crying shame. Other options should be considered and debated. Demolition of a neighborhood icon should be a last resort.

Mario happens to be Lovestruck by Team McClutchy and cannot see that the City is hurt in the dysfunctional relationship. Sadly the love is not mutual.

Who is looking out for Norwalk?

Hopefully mayor Rilling will control his part-time attorney and seek other input.

There happen to be quite a few people in the Wall St area that could provide solid alternatives.

How could it hurt to listen?

The “Tyvek Temple” has been there for 3 years. Let’s not be conned into some rushed proposal. Let’s get it right for a change. Broad public support is possible if we have an open honest debate.

The public is capable of forgiving past mistakes if they are admitted to instead of hidden.

Step 1 to healing is to admit the city under Mario’s guidance gave away 2 parking lots to POKO. They are gone!

Any attempt to pretend they are not gone is a wishful thinking or dishonest.

I am happy to explain the details. There are too complicated for this already long comment.

Nor Res May 4, 2019 at 8:06 am

Jason keep up the Good Fight against city hall. There are a lot of Norwalkers that are Proud of you for standing up to the bullies.

Michael McGuire May 4, 2019 at 8:13 am

Mayor Rilling

This is near the worst possible outcome for the Wall Street area. To add insult to injury it is being forced on us by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) that was just shown to have mislead you, the common council and all the various land use commissioners in its vast land grab via the Wall Street – West Avenue Plan. All the while we, the taxpayers of the Wall Street area have steadfastly requested a seat at the table to help steer a workable solution for everyone.

This revised deal is happening on your watch and under your leadership and will be your responsibility and legacy. Sadly our requests for a seat at the table to help figure this out were steadfastly rebuffed. I always found that surprising because we are the very people who could financially model every scenario to determine which scenario provided the best return for Norwalk. That information, coupled with solid legal input were the essential ingredients needed to achieve a best outcome for Norwalk.

Instead you were guided by RDA. The very group that concocted this failed project in the first place. I can virtually guarantee that financial modeling of various scenarios for Norwalks benefit were not done by RDA. And those done by Citibank only explored what was best for Citibank.

But what is best for Norwalk?

We, the tax paying public, were kept in the dark on this horrendous deal, why? Could it be because it’s such a horrendous deal. It took Milligan’s FOI to surface this fiasco.

Mr. Mayor this is time for leadership. Time for you to stand up to RDA and say no. Time for you to demand other options be explored. Time for you to ask for guidance on this very complex issue. No one can expects you to have all the answers. But we all expect you to have knowledge advisors who put Norwalk first and not themselves.

Michael McGuire May 4, 2019 at 9:02 am

For those wondering why this is a bad deal. It basically comes down to the Residence of POKO having just enough money to get by. They won’t have the income to revitalize an area the way a market rate housing project would.

Projects like this don’t generate sufficient income to warrant long term upkeep of the property. As such, the properties begin to deteriorate at a faster pace and the restrictions (that last 40 years) make them economic orphans. This spirals the deterioration and drags a whole neighborhood into economic stagnation.

So for all of RDA’s claims that their goal is to revitalize the area is basically BS. This RDA is in the business of forestalling economic development so they can stay in power for as long as possible.

The assumed goal of a redevelopment agency is to put themselves out of business by redeveloping an area. However, this has become such a lucrative game RDA has no intentions of fulfilling their mandate. Think not. Than why did it take the 70 years to “revitalize” SoNo?

Now that SoNo is done RDA has shifted their economic malaise format to Wall Street. POKO is the first of many projects to ensure RDA longevity. Think not? All you have to do is look at their tax incentive plan for this area that benefits POKoesque type development at the expense of the existing property owners. Then Tim Sheehan has the temerity to state that the small property owners are “misinformed”.

Why does RDA not want a train station at Wall Street? Because that is not healthy for RDA – revitalization would happen virtually overnight amp Tim knows this.

I would gladly debate Tim Sheehan on this topic

So POKO is just the beginning of a looooong slloooowww grind that ensure RDA employment at taxpayer expense.

We don’t need RDA like we don’t need POKO at 100 percent affordable.

Maxwell S May 4, 2019 at 9:19 am

The proposed plans to allocate 100% affordable housing in a prime area of the city which has recently experienced promising growth would be a terrible idea proposed by individuals lacking judgement on the impact such a plan will have for continued growth in the Wall Street area. It’s time for positive transformation to occur in our city rather than the typical past way of poor decisions leading to no growth with negative implications.

Rusty Guardrail May 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Dump the Mayor and the Common Council (except Hempstead) in November. Stall the plan until then.

Patrick Cooper May 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

@Mike McGuire – you place way too much faith in our Mayor. Don’t bother. He hasn’t listened to you, a veritable expert, no matter how many times you plead the case. Hasn’t listened to the other stakeholders – via the Wall Street Association. Hasn’t listened to CNNA, or the dignified protests from Adolph Neaderland. Let’s not forget the countless other advocates among the Norwalk taxpaying citizens who absolutely hate this project – and have – since its inception. Harry barely cares. Where is his promised “explanatory statement” – now overdue by months? Probably in the same “empty promises” drawer with his 2013 campaign promise to fix planning and zoning.

The RDA has gone rogue. There is only one answer. Kill it.

The idea that this isn’t politics goes right out the window with the knowledge that the McClutchy team was selected exactly because they were a known “preferred” developer for the democratic party. It tells you exactly who Harry is listening to. Notice they haven’t said how much more taxpayer funds will be needed here – what other goodies the city will shower on the “preferred developer”. No – that will come about 8 weeks after the election – if he wins. Probably on a Friday night before Christmas.

This is why – alone – you vote for Lisa Brinton for mayor. There are 50 other reasons – but you don’t need more than this to decide.

The sad part of all of this is – and not to be overly dramatic – but this cinder block represents the total and absolute destruction of potential of this neighborhood – for generations. You bet this is mayor Rilling’s legacy – one that should shame his grandchildren’s grandchildren. He should be required to put his name on the building – just so future generations will know exactly who was responsible for this colossal monument of stupidity.

DT May 4, 2019 at 5:36 pm

My family has lived in Norwalk for over 130 years.
But this is enough.
100% affordable housing in the middle of a city?!
My family will be moving to Darien, New Canaan, Westport, or Wilton by the end of this year.
This is not the same Norwalk we once loved.
Thanks “City Hall officials.”
Norwalk is one step away from turning into Bridgeport.

Isabelle Hargrove May 4, 2019 at 6:01 pm

So much for the transparent government Mr. Kimmel was trying to sell us a few weeks ago. Residents would know nothing about taxpayers subsidizing another ugly, soulless, large fortress apartment complex, de plus with 100% subsidized low-income housing, if it hadn’t been for another FOIA request.

This is why the land grab from the RDA of the entire downtown area, coupled with the monstrous lift walk-bridge, will destroy our downtown. Under their iron-fist, these cheaply-made, generic rental complexes will multiply at the expense of small businesses, industry, and apartment-ownership. Only a multi-faceted approach would create an appealing, cool, and authentic urban destination which would generate economic activity, good-paying jobs, and grow our grand list.

When people show you who they are, believe them. The RDA and the current administration are 1-trick ponies. If you don’t like the trick, trade in the ponies on November 5th before they do irreparable harm to our city.

Jason Milligan May 4, 2019 at 6:32 pm

The biggest problem is the secrecy.

A good plan that benefits our downtown and our city doesn’t need to be kept secret. Bad deals that give away the store require secrecy. Also the people don’t need to weigh in on every little detail, but the big picture items they should get their say!

As someone who happens to have a lot of knowledge of all of the details and issues with POKO there is only 1 action item that our city leadership should take.

Terminate the LDA!!!

The conditions are present on Phase I that allow the City & Agency to pursue that remedy. As a successor & party to the LDA I would agree to terminate the LDA with a few small conditions. (Namely recoup my attorney fees)

The benefits of canceling the LDA are many.

1. The City can reclaim $4.3 Million of $4.4 million that the LDA binds the City to contribute. The $4.4 million was already bonded and have is sitting in an account ready to be invested. It could be reallocated to fix sidewalks, lampposts, trees, spigots, benches etc.

2. 2 lawsuits would immediately end. The frivolous one against me, and the lawsuit against Citibank.

3. The negotiating position with Citibank would improve immensely. Citibank would own a piece of property like any other owner. They could develop their property subject to the Norwalk Zoning Regulations.

4. Garden Cinema could likely be preserved. There are lots of ways for someone to buy that property, improve it and keep the theater.

The downside of cancelling the LDA is more perceived than real.

The City would not be owed any parking. While this seems terrible and it is terrible. The parking was given away a long ago. That bad deal was already made in 2015 by Mario & others. The City has no right to get the Phase I parking lot it gave away back then. Also there is no practical way for Citibank to build the 100 public parking spaces on the Phase I site even if they used the vending machine automated parking system.

There MAY be a way for the City to reclaim the Phase II parking lot from me, but the price tag would be somewhere well over $3 Million and the circumstances required for the reclaiming of the lot have not triggered.

The reality is that for the City to even have a chance to get back the parking lots or public parking would require the outlay or outright gift of $4.3 million to Citibank, and the purchase price of $3 to $4 Million from me for the Phase II lot. If instead of spending a additional $7.3 to $8.3 Million plus the city re-purposed the $4.3 Million and saved the $3 to $4 million there would be other ways to get parking or build parking.

For $7-8 Million the City could buy Garden Cinema and put up a new Yankee Doodle Style parking garage. Structured parking is $20k to $25K per space. $7 to $8 Million could get the City 200 +/- spaces on the Garden cinemas site. I am not suggesting this as the best solution or even a good solution. I just wish that we as a city could face reality, and brainstorm other options. The best option on public parking might be to wait and see. Yankee Doodle is less than half full and a car dealer rents the top two floors. There is a public lot behind Bank of America, and another behind CT Surgical. Adding a level or two or 3 of parking on either of those sites would cost much less than buying Garden Cinema.

There are a few other lawsuits that exists and that will likely be initiated soon.

One of the existing lawsuits that does not get much press is the Dias El Dorado Club lawsuit. That lawsuit is an inverse condemnation case. John Dias was literally run out of business after eh was bullied into selling to POKO. Dias went into contract with POKO after receiving letters threatening eminent domain. The El Dorado Club property is required to build New Street #1, which is required to complete Phase I. Once construction started on Phase I, all of the parking was used for building or constructions staging. The El Dorado Club was literally run out of business, and then POKO never closed on it. The City and Agency are actively fighting the Dias lawsuit saying that they don’t have to buy it, but they can’t complete Phase I or get a Certificate of Occupancy without building New Street #1. Dias is suing for somewhere around $3 Million. Canceling the LDA would not totally resolve this lawsuit but it would cap the damages.

I happen to have some solutions for the Dias lawsuit too.

There is a very profound question that will be answered soon.

Will Mayor Rilling be willing to reevaluate the POKO situation? Take in new input. Consider multiple new options or will he let the POKO disaster be the reason he loses the mayoral race.

I really do believe that POKO may be the issue that decides the next mayoral election. Wall Street is the dead center of the city. It is the heart and soul of the city. The POKO decisions will have a huge impact on the future of the city. POKO will be a catalyst for great things to come or it could be the nail in the coffin.

I am an optimist and believe the POKO will turn out in a way that benefits Norwalk

We shall see.

Rusty Guardrail May 4, 2019 at 6:46 pm

No code enforcement…a federal prison in a residential neighborhood…police earning six figures for moonlighting as construction site flagmen at taxpayer expense…

Rusty Guardrail May 4, 2019 at 6:48 pm

…the last mall that will be built in the U.S. (according to Wall Street Journal…

Non Partisan May 5, 2019 at 8:28 am

100% affordable housing?

How does this gentrify an area? How does this improve the local business environment?

Affordable housing is paid for with tax abatements. How many units of subsidized housing can we afford?

EnoPride May 5, 2019 at 7:55 pm

POKO should be killed. JHM should not be the developer. That out-scaled, characterless storage unit looking thang does not belong at that prime historic location alongside Wall Street Theater and other great period architecture. Norwalk deserves better. Another slap in stakeholders’ faces by City Hall. A polling of public opinion would reveal that the majority of stakeholders and area business owners are strongly opposed to this affordable housing type of land use for this locale, as they should be. Shouldn’t their opinions matter? The stakeholders should continue to fight. Mario Coppola’s written words in this article display that he completely disregards public opinion.

Surrounding town residents and their governing bodies would fight to the death to prevent a POKO from happening in their historic town centers. Engaged Norwalk stakeholders have tried to put the brakes on this debacle, which I hope residents truly appreciate. They have been shut out completely. They feel disenfranchised and helpless watching this City Hall make Wall Street look like a colossal concrete block fell from space and crashed down on the street corner of an Edward Hopper painting. All the while, the unfinished version residents have been stuck with has been a negative ROI, taxpayer money sucker, which is financially negligent and deserving of an explanation at very least, or another lawsuit, this time the taxpayers versus City Hall. Think of the countless other architecturally designed, vibrant configurations which could have been at that corner all these years generating revenue and integrating harmoniously and to appropriate scale with the existing historic architecture. POKO is an embarrassing, taxpayer money squandering failure. Shame on City Hall.

McClutchy sure can shamelessly suck the character out of a town that is not his own to make millions, can’t he? He could hardly care to give us the appropriate product with the appropriate parking accommodations, as his email in this article displays. He cares a great deal about timeframe and pay day, though. He could never get away with this eyesore misfit in a prime locale in his own hometown center of Darien without residents and preservationists setting their hair on fire. But he he can get away with it here. Norwalk gets the short end of the stick and Mayor Rilling gets campaign donations from McClutchy, just as Malloy did from this JHM developer. I get how it works.

Check out this article about how the McClutchys roll:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ctpost.com/local/amp/Stamford-train-station-development-dead-9984131.php

And then here is a lot of the same:

https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2018/07/mcclutchy-needs-to-take-over-wall-street-place-while-malloy-still-governor/

Michael McGuire is spot on that Mayor Rilling ought to display leadership here. He needs to stop being led by the nose by RDA’s Tim Sheehan, by Mario Coppola and by this McClutchy, and he needs to seek a more appropriate land use and developer for this prime locale. RDA is public enemy number one in Norwalk. Mayor Rilling and Common Council are complicit in supporting an agency which sells Norwalk out for campaign donations and at the expense of its taxpayers. There is not one single preservationist mentality on that entire Common Council who is willing to step up and admit what a travesty it is to sell out that location. Almost every council member is willing to drink the RDA Kool-Aid to the extent that they are willing to ruin a historically significant area. All the original players should be taken off this project if they cannot get it right. Norwalk Historical Society and Trust for Historic Preservation should be consulted and should weigh in in a big way here. They should fight to save that corner, as City Hall is obviously too boxed in, too tied to special interests to get it right, and just cannot get out of their own way.

End the cronyism. Vote for change this November, Norwalk! Your voices and opinions are spot on, and they should matter.

Otto Delupe May 5, 2019 at 9:04 pm

So basically the plan is to shaft Milligan and his investors by impacting the adjacent properties which will most assuredly be affected most by this shortsighted plan? bc really, that’s what is looks like. These genius’s should double down and make Milligan an offer he can’t refuse – taxpayers be dammed.

EnoPride May 5, 2019 at 10:24 pm

I find it disturbing on so many levels that JHM is City Hall’s preferred developer. If you research them more deeply, you unearth several scenarios highlighting their slimy, greedy pattern of pay to play bidding tactics. Just stomach turning. Is the Common Council doing their research?

Nancy McGuire May 6, 2019 at 9:07 am

A bit of information about the Connecticut State Statute Section 8-30g – As of 2018, the City of Norwalk has 35,415 total housing units (2010 fig.), of which, 12.75% of which is designated as affordable, making it one of 28 Connecticut cities with an excess of 10 percent affordable housing. I am not in the business of developing low income house, but it says something about Norwalk when compared to its neighbors. Westport has 3.37%. Darien has 3.56%. Wilton has 4.0%. Fairfield has 2.43%. Norwalk is in the company of Stamford with 15.12%, and Bridgeport with 20.33%. Regardless, does anyone notice the tacky construction? cheap windows? and lack of architectural interest? Every development is all about making money – market rate or affordable. But this square box with composite panels and plate glass windows with cheap trim will be the the dagger in the heart of Wall Street. Mayor Rilling and common council, you don’t have to accept this poor offer, and you are not responsible for Citibank’s losses or McClutchy’s profit. There are plenty of developers who would purchase the site and right-size the development to meet its available parking. There are many other sites off the main street, that can be jammed with affordable housing units.

Mike McGuire May 6, 2019 at 10:06 am

Note also that the above figure for amount of affordable housing does not account for, or include the Many illegal apartments Norwalk hosts.

So in reality the percentage of affordable housing in Norwalk is much higher than the 12.75 percent noted in the statistics above.

Nancy is right. This project can attract market rate developers if the City were willing to create the appropriate environment.

Bill Nightingale May 6, 2019 at 11:48 am

RDA has to be abolished. Not that I condone Miligan tactics but RDA has to go.

Michael McGuire May 6, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Clarification – as Nancy noted above Norwalk has 12.75% affordable housing. But that is only the amount of deed restricted housing that qualifies. If we add in, in addition to the many illegal apartments, all those apartments that are not deed restricted but priced ” affordable” I would bet our percentage of affordable units would nearly double.

Tim Sheehan – please tell us why a 100% affordable project is good for Norwalk? This is a public venue and the public would like to hear from you. We need to understand why you think this is the best deal for Norwalk.

Tony P May 7, 2019 at 7:05 am

The points made about % of affordable housing vs our neighbors, along with the % of illegal apartments, are two of THE most critical issues facing this city that will define it for the next 50 years. If addressed correctly, Norwalk can truly flourish. If not, we become a Willimantic or a Torrington in the next 15 years. #VoteForLisa

EnoPride May 8, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Very Interesting read on the pros of California high court doing away with redevelopment agencies:

https://www.latimes.com/local/la-xpm-2011-dec-29-la-me-redevelopment-20111230-story.html

The below words stood out in the article and could be applied to Norwalk’s RDA on a smaller scale:

“Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Zev Yaroslavsky said redevelopment over the years ‘evolved into a honey pot that was tapped to underwrite billions of dollars worth of commercial and other for-profit projects.’”
“The projects ‘had nothing to do with reversing blight, but everything to do with subsidizing private real estate ventures that otherwise made no economic sense,’ Yaroslavsky said.”

Tell me if the above doesn’t sound like what is going on with RDA/City Hall’s declaration of blight on the area to finance POKO with JHM/McClutchy as developer? How is any of this benefiting the business owners and stakeholders or revitalizing that corner?

RDA must go.

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