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McClutchy’s ‘best offer’ includes paying fee to make up for ‘POKO’ parking shortage

An illustration provided by JHM Group in the proposal for Wall Street Place phase I, shared with the public via the packet for next week’s Common Council Planning Committee meeting.

Correction, 8 p.m.: Headline adjusted; 5:30 p.m.: Proposal narrative written by Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey.

NORWALK, Conn. –The proposal to restart Wall Street Place “comes at great cost, and notably, little, if any, monetary recovery” to Citibank, documents released Thursday state.

If completed, the modified development would provide 50 or 60 parking spaces to the public, falling short of the 100 required under the current Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) for the property. Citibank would pay the City $22,000 for each space that is short of what is required; the math on that totals $880,000 to $1.2 million. Citibank expects to lose $14 million of the nearly $20 million it has already invested in Wall Street Place, often called “POKO.”

“This is the final and best offer that can be made. Should the proposed development not be accepted the bank will be forced to confront the economic reality of having to sell the asset,” a proposal narrative submitted by the legal firm Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey states. The firm represents Citibank’s proposed redeveloper, a company commonly referred to as “McClutchy” but officially named JHM Group.

“I recently had my staff meet with five highly respected and reputable stakeholders in Norwalk to ask their feedback on the proposal,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in an email. “To a person, they felt the project was good for Norwalk and should move forward.”

The Common Council Planning Committee will consider the proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Council chambers, located in City Hall at 125 East Ave, where JHM representatives will review the plan. This is not a public hearing, but public participation is invited. The difference is that the public will not hear the presentation before being allowed to speak on the topic.

 

The ‘best offer’

The documents explaining the proposal are in the Council packet available online, thus making the proposal public after months of speculation. Many of the details were made public Thursday by a NancyOnNorwalk story that explained the 100% affordable housing aspect of the proposal.

The sources for that story said that City funding for the project would remain at the previously agreed upon levels; the LDA calls for the City to invest $4 million in infrastructure not just on Wall Street Place phase I but for phases II and III.  The proposal is only for phase I, as Citibank does not have control over the phase II and III properties.

Wall Street Place is the stalled development on the corner of Wall and Isaac Streets, a Tyvek-wrapped hulk for more than two years. Citibank’s subsidiary Municipal Holdings LLC took ownership by foreclosing on its $31.9 million construction loan and has been negotiating with the City and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to come up with what it calls a “carefully conceived, financially feasible, and well-designed project,” just for the partially completed building, phase I of the development.

Proposal highlights are listed in the packet:

  • Six stories (same as, using existing building frame)
  • 165,339 square feet
  • 101 Units
  • 10,233 square feet of ground floor commercial space (“street activating uses, as allowed under Zoning”)
  • 180-190 parking spaces (140-150 at 17 Isaacs St., 40 onsite)

· 50-60 +/- parking spaces available to the public

· 130 fulfill project zoning requirements

  • “Redeveloper will pay the City a $22,000 fee for each parking space short of LDA required 100 public parking spaces
  • “As part of the public infrastructure improvements 29 additional on-street spaces will be made available by the City that will not count toward any required development parking”

Income/Unit Mix

  • 34 units at 40% Area Median income (AMI), renting to those with a maximum income of $43,000-$52,000 a year, depending on family size
  • 32 units at 60% AMI (max Income $65,000-$78,000, depending on family size)
  • 35 units at 80% AMI (max Income $86,000-$104,000, depending on family size)

Tax Credit Equity

  • “Project is contemplated as a 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) deal which is anticipated to yield $27.6 Million in equity”

Citibank’s New Investment

  • “Citibank will provide an additional $35.3 million in construction financing and $16.9 million of term debt and $27.6 million of new equity in order to complete the project.
  • “Citibank anticipates losing roughly $14 million of the nearly $20 million it has invested in the project to date.”

Wall Street Place preliminary design 19-0627

Wall Street Place projected rents 19-0627

Area Median Income Chart 19-0627 per Citibank

 

 

Garden Cinemas ‘would be sold regardless’

Citibank will demolish the Garden Cinemas and build a parking garage on the property, to provide 140-150 of the needed parking spaces.

A JHM illustration of the Isaac Street side of the proposed Wall Street Place, showing a parking garage where the Garden Cinemas are now.

Garden Cinemas owner Richard Freedman in a June 6 letter to JHM states that the cinemas would be sold no matter what happens.

Garden Cinemas letter 19-0606

 

“Parking has always been a main concern during negotiations,” Rilling wrote. “Unfortunately, acquisition of other parcels made it very challenging to deal with the parking issue.”

Real estate broker Jason Milligan bought phase II and III properties more than a year ago, from owner Richard Olson of POKO Partners. The pair are being sued by the City and Redevelopment Agency over this transaction.

“Municipal Holdings and JHM encountered a significant obstacle in restarting the Phase I development when there was a sudden, unexpected and unauthorized acquisition by a third party of the land that comprised most of the Phase II project site,” the proposal states. “This action seriously compromised the ability to provide adequate parking to support the Phase I development. That problem was partly mitigated when the Garden Cinemas site became available for purchase.”

 

A ‘sole mandate to reinvest in communities served by Citibank’

The plan was derived from “thoughtful calculations and analysis” by Citibank’s Municipal Holdings, the proposal states.

“Importantly, financing for Wall Street Place was not provided by Citibank’s conventional Real Estate Group, but rather by Citi Community Capital – whose sole mandate is to reinvest in the communities served by Citibank with lending and investments that are specifically targeted to developments that include benefits to low and moderate income residents,” the proposal states.

The proposal implies that Citibank’s reputation is at stake, as it “is actively involved in redevelopment project financings throughout the nation and consistently leads the industry in that sector of finance.”

“It is with that business focus in mind that Citibank remains committed to pursuing a good outcome for the Wall Street Place development. There is no path for the bank to recover the funds it has thus far invested – even the most optimistic proforma indicates a loss of $14 million+ of the $19.5 million invested to date, assuming all goes well from here,” the proposal states.

Wall Street Place preliminary sources and uses budget 19-0627

“Citibank is backing this proposal out of a genuine interest in seeing the Wall Street Place development completed in a way that will benefit the City of Norwalk and its citizens. It is important to note that Citibank and JHM have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to present a proposal that meets the goals and objectives of the City and its stakeholders,” the proposal states.

 

‘Our kids cannot afford to live here’

Rilling released this statement:

“The Wall Street Place Project (“POKO”) has impeded the redevelopment and revitalization of Wall Street for over a decade. When I first ran for Mayor in 2013, I committed to the community that I would get this project moving and did. Despite setbacks, I am excited to see this project is once again moving forward.

“The Wall Street area should be a more vibrant downtown and a larger part of Norwalk’s success. To make that happen, we need to finish stalled projects. We also need more people, as this area is one of the least populated Census tracts in the area. Bringing more talented and dynamic people to the Wall Street area will be a win for local businesses and our community.

“We all know the high cost of living in Lower Fairfield County. We know that our kids cannot afford to live here. They move back in with us after school, or, unfortunately, are forced to move away. I am in favor of mixed-income housing in this development. Many jobs in sales, social services, entertainment, education, health care, math, and engineering, fall within the income guidelines for this project. Mixed-income neighborhoods create economic and cultural diversity. They create vibrancy.

“Wall Street Place is a complicated project with unique circumstances. Many people have had ideas of what to do with Wall Street Place but the challenges were tremendous. We’ve been working with Citibank and speaking with stakeholders to find a solution that works for the neighborhood and our City. I invite the public to review the plans with an open mind and share their opinions at various public forums in the coming weeks. I know they will see, as I do, that this project has great potential for Norwalk.”

28 comments

@Tony P June 28, 2019 at 8:41 am

“Should the proposed development not be accepted the bank will be forced to confront the economic reality of having to sell the asset.”

Sounds good to me, best option presented to date – when can we start talking about this?

Paul June 28, 2019 at 9:26 am

REALITY CHECK:

Citibank wrote off their loss on the loan three years ago. Its history…What matters to Citibank is profitability today and in the future. Their new cost basis is zero. Therefore, the government concessions in pursuing this project is going to be profitable on many level and the only alternative to selling the property.

No other free market developer would touch this ill-conceived project. They would demolish the building and develop a new plan for the current market. They would not spend $80,000,000 ($800,000 per unit, $350 per square foot) for 101 “low income housing”. That project cost with 101 units is the equivalent to a luxury $1,000,000 (avg.) per unit condominium building or a $6,500 per month (avg.) rental apartment building! In today’s market an $80 million price tag would justify 275 units with an average rent of $2,500 or 450 low income units with an average rent of $1,500.

The point is that $80 million for 101 low income units is not feasible without a huge government subsidy (taxpayers) today and in the future. The bottom line is that taxpayers will be subsidizing CitiGroup’s profits, a $160 billion company.

Tom Keegan June 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

I recently had my staff meet with five respected and reputable stakeholders in Norwalk to ask their feedback on the proposal To a person they felt the project was good for Norwalk and should move forward . Mayor Rilling said . I believe the real investors in the city of Norwalk (the tax payers/homeowners should know who these five are

Ken June 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

Norwalk NEEDS many things MUCH more than it NEEDS more housing of any kind. Anything of this nature should get ZERO from the city, the City should always look to have developments ease the tax burden on us all, not have us ease developers burden. $1500 a month is far from low income housing if we are talking local income. Thats $18,000 a year, far beyond the means of anyone realistically considered low income. We NEED to stop pretending that $200,000 a year is middle income just because we pay many city employees that much or more. $45,000 is a closer realistic figure and people making that would find it very hard to pay the “low income” price of $1800 a month. Norwalk NEEDS its administration to stop buddying up with special interest and developers at our expense. Harry Rilling may view us as replaceable but many of us WANT to stay here.

Michael McGuire June 28, 2019 at 10:29 am

Comments as I read this article

Harry Rilling, RDA or their advisors never consulted me or the Wall Street Neighborhood Association on this topic of POKO in general or specifically. I have been offering my services to held out since 2016 specifically on POKO, and as WSNA we repeatedly requested a seat at the table since not only are we stakeholders, but several of use are commercial real estate industry experts familiar with these issues. Our overtures were always rebuffed. Hence the interviews with 5 highly respected individuals is laughable.

For Citibank to sell this asset is not a hardship despite the “Citibank has been victimized” tone of the Planning commission letter put together by RDA which constitutes most of the verbiage of this article. Lots of nice pictures and a completely one sided take on things by Norwalk’s RDA. Zero analysis on alternative investment scenarios. And at no time does RDA simply state – “Hey Norwalk, you can get out of all this mess, and these law suites by pulling the plug on the LDA.” Where is that cost benefit analysis?

I find it very interesting that this deal was characterized as “nothing solid” or something to that effect only two or three weeks ago by some City taking head. Now we get our 180 seconds of time to cover a very complex issue on Tuesday night of a vacation week as this virtually done deal is slammed through the various agencies.

My wife and I are two of the biggest proponents of revitalizing and redeveloping the Wall Street area, we are both career commercial real estate valuation professionals, we invested heavily in Wall Street and own the building right across the street from POKO. We are all for a development on the POKO site.

So why are we against this? Simple, as structured it’s a bad deal for Norwalk. This project could be done as a market rate development which would boost this area. Instead we get a financial lame duck to carry around for the next 40 years.
Regarding the financials on this it seems odd to me that a project which under POKO cost ~ $50 million is now costing $80 Million, a whopping 60% increase in “cost” yet RDA’s states Citibank will lose $14-$20 million. We need Tim Sheehan please explain this one.

Interesting that the financial stack includes $27.6 million created on by the good graces of the City of Norwalk being willing to sponsor this municipal tax credit deal. Citibank than issues a $35.3 million loan for construction and then a $16.9 million loan to cover the balance, both of which they profit from. I don’t think they are losing anything here. A LIHTC deal makes the money up front hence the $80 million price tag – that’s $30 Million more than 2 years ago. More RDA misdirection?

Full disclosure – I do not condemn Citibank at all for anything they are doing. They are just following their mandate to maximize shareholder value – nothing wrong with that.

I do however, hold the current administration (particularly after this blindsiding) and the RDA leadership directly responsible for subverting and perverting the system by misleading elected officials, misleading the public, and never really publicly exploring other options that were good for Norwalk.

What is a particularly “slimy” is the RDA angle on that this is a virtuous undertaking by Citibank. Nonsense -it is a Federal Government mandate that every major bank must have a community reinvestment arm that invests in otherwise unfeasible project. More RDA misleading??

The City or RDA never worked with the stakeholders in the area, asked us for our opinions or perspectives, considered alternative plans etc. I know this because RDA never issued 3rd party reports for various alternative that were presented to the public. Maybe they did them and it did not support their position. Who Knows? After all it is working under the auspices of a basically illegal Wall Street- West Ave Plan that RDA pushed past our CC by misleading them which I would be happy to demonstrate to any City, State, or Federal official or legal counsel interested.

As a final thought – read the above out load and time yourself – could you say all that in a manner that others would understand, not likely. And this is only a response. My thoughts on the next article “POKO” Questions and Answers likewise is much longer than 180 seconds to read.

JOHN C ROMANO June 28, 2019 at 10:59 am

I agree mostly with Michael’s remarks. The only real avenue to take is Market rate units, (preferably condo’s owner occupied) let CITI stay in the game thru it’s community re-investment arm. Finance and subsidize the units being built and sold. Norwalk, cancel the LDA save the taxpayers money. This bad deal does not fall on Rilling entirely, it goes back several years to previous administrations, plus the city has been led down the garden path I suspect by RDA. But Rilling and the council can become our hero’s, man/women up (common council) and push back. The center of our town is to important to rush to completion without using common sense. We had mistakes from the past which we are doubling down on and creating even larger sins. Norwalk is a great city, It just needs a course correction. What is done is done, the apartments approved have been built or about to be built. Let’s now Put a moratorium on apartments like we did on condo’s in the 90’s. Concentrate on the wall/west ave corridors and get it right. We do not need people from all over the state invading Norwalk’s resources. The new voucher system let’s people from all over the state migrate to wherever they choose. This impacts all our resources and burdens the tax payers. Lessons our middle class, drives down property values.Increases school costs and population with no help on the horizon from the state (Thanks DUFF)

Mike Mushak June 28, 2019 at 11:53 am

Good news!

And file most of the previous responses under “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

The same folks who want to see Poko finished one day are hoping for failure the next day.

The same folks who whine on about subsidies for housing are begging for the city to subsidize a failing movie theater that needs million is renovations. Hypocrisy served up daily in the comment section, with a side of phony hysteria.

As Harry Rilling has pulled a trifecta of increased services, lowered taxes, and improved city management, what’s left for his usual small gaggle of critics except their repeated mantra “Poko, Poko, Poko?” They are praying for failure or else they’ll completely run out of things to whine about!

The evidence is well-known by now by anyone paying attention to Norwalk’s recent history over the last 40 years, that a critical mass of residents in any downtown is necessary to support a vibrant business community and street pedestrian traffic that animates the downtown, and gives it a “vibe” that attracts more businesses and residents and investment.

SoNo is case study in how that works. This isn’t rocket science, and we’ve known that is what Wall Street has needed for decades through study after study by professionals who plan downtown improvements for a living.

On Wall Street, Head of the Harbor has been a huge success, bringing new 24/7 residents to a neighborhood that desperately needed it. Now we need to add a completed POKO to the mix as the urban synergy begins to build on itself.

And any first-year urban planner or business major can tell you the availability of affordable housing is one of the major criteria in what attracts new businesses to an area, so their employees can afford to live near where they work. It’s an investment that in the end pays for itself.

Developers will not build affordable housing on their own, so they need incentives. This is not my opinion, but proven by basic economic facts whether you like them or not.

I applaud the Rilling Administration for working hard to solve the POKO mess, that let’s remember occurred because of a tragic untimely death of the original developer.

Everyone who wants to see Wall Street succeed should support the city now in this effort, despite the pleas from some commenters to keep the same stagnant status quo on Wall Street that we’ve seen for decades. No thanks!

Time to move on!

Jason Milligan June 28, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Team McClutchy & Citibank will make a fortune on this new deal.

iii. Developer’s Fee To the extent economically feasible, the developer’s fee shall be based on a sliding scale indicated in the CHFA Procedures up to 15% of the Total Development Cost (as defined in CHFA’s LIHTC Glossary of Terms) as per the CHFA Procedures. The developer’s fee shall be inclusive of non-profit overhead and exclusive of land, building and syndication fees, capitalized reserves, and pre-development financing costs.

15% of $80 Million is $12 Million!!

$14 Million loss is total nonsense. Citi will use muni bonds for $50 million at 2% or less interest per year, and they will syndicate the tax credits for a $27,000,000 windfall once the project is substantially built. The generous city of Norwalk is donating $4.3 million into the deal. Citibank and McCluthy will have little to zero in the deal.

They will also profit handsomely each year through management fees and net income. The interest on $50 Million is only $1 million per year. The sweetheart tax deal pegs the property taxes at $174,000 annually for 15 years.

What other expenses are there? garbage, water, maintenance and utilities. The annual revenue is like $2.5 Million per year.

Nobody believes this low end construction project costs $80 Million. That number is quadruple the actual cost of construction.

The question is if the citizens of Norwalk will let this administration sell out the city to Citibank and Team McClutchy…

The other big winners in this deal are the attorney’s and consultants that have to draft the new deals, issue the bonds, create the tax credit package, provide consultation etc. Not to mention defend the numerous lawsuits.

It is no wonder that Harry’s biggest donation sector is “Big Law”.

Bob Welsh June 28, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Several comments on this thread have not been posted because they contain vulgarities, or abbreviated vulgarities.

Jason Milligan June 28, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Harry,

You owe it to the public to reveal who the 5 “Stakeholders” are.

They are not members of the Wall Street Neighborhood Association and they are not residents of the Wall Street area.

Was one of them Mario or McClutchy?

Did you present multiple plans to these “stakeholders”?

Did you analyze other options with anyone?

Do any of these “stakeholders” have pending business before you?

You ignored lots and lots of invitations from area stakeholders to help brainstorm POKO solutions.

This latest plan was cooked up in secret. You are trying to ram it through quickly in July while people are away.

The plan has zero chance of working and the style and manner in which you are trying to force upon the people of Norwalk is typical of your Gestapo tactics.

#LisaforNorwalk

Adam Blank June 28, 2019 at 3:58 pm

If I were designing the ideal development for this location from scratch, this would not be my first choice; however, we are not starting from scratch and I don’t see this as the end of the world. However, I would suggest a significant, but easily accomplished tweak to it. This neighborhood needs density and it also needs residents that are high earners with disposable income to spend on the retail and restaurants on Wall/West. My recommendation would be to modify the district’s zoning regulations (CBD) which require 10% workforce housing to allow the first 1,000 new units that go up to pay a very, very modest fee in lieu of building workforce units. This will drive down the cost of development and spur further development in the neighborhood and “even out” the workforce housing at 10% which, overall seems to be appropriate.

Jason Milligan June 28, 2019 at 5:38 pm

Hey fabulous 5 stakeholders. Let’s see any one of you publicly endorse this train wreck.

These supposed pillars of the community should embrace the opportunity to stand up for the plan they endorsed to a man.

Was Mushak or Adam Blank one of the stakeholders?

cc-rider June 28, 2019 at 7:04 pm

How many more kids will be added to the school rolls? The school system is tapped out of money as is. This sort of development can’t help.

Rusty Guardrail June 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

“Love it or leave it”, right?

We’ve heard that before, every time opportunistic career pols choose the simplest road to re-election: pay feasance to deep-pocket criminal grafters, while mobilizing a cadre of knuckleheads whose empty-headed bluster will drown out any voices of reason.

I simply regard mis-use of my tax money as a built-in cost of living here. Like the cable bill by which I pay for hundreds of channels that nobody watches.

The sage, learned individuals who have the wisdom to cite the facts are patently ignored.

The “Common Council”? Don’t make me laugh.

Norwalk’s Wall St. foot traffic will be headed from the ugly apartment buildings to the brand new crop of independent retailers that will spring up: Payday loan stores.

EnoPride June 29, 2019 at 12:26 am

Transparency is the very nature of our Democracy, as it is the right and the means to examine the process of decision making. Transparency in local government provides stakeholders the right, not the privilege, to hold their officials accountable to make the appropriate decisions for all, not for some.

Mayor Rilling, could you please publicly reveal the names of the five clearly HANDPICKED, “highly respected and reputable” stakeholders shrouded in mystery who you mentioned conveniently approved of this Citibank/JHM Group “best deal” proposal alongside your very small executive session group? Could you also clarify why the opinion of these chosen five are the gold standard by which you justify that the majority of stakeholders approve this deal? Surely, as Democracy would have it, there has to be, at very least, one or two individuals of differing opinion amongst the group of five? If you do not share the names of these stakeholders, then are you denying us, the public, the right to examine the process of decision making, the right to transparency, the very nature of our Democracy?

Five anonymous stakeholders meeting with you behind closed doors in no way represents the larger, publicly held popular opinion, voiced intelligently time and time again, in meetings and in writing, by countless Norwalkers, business owners, designers, real estate professionals, preservationists, etc. Perhaps you should have included them, listened to and polled all of them to verify the popular opinion. The popular opinion is that this outscaled, designless, cheap to build, expensive to sustain type of land use with no public green space and a pathetically inadequate parking situation is inappropriate for this locale. In this case, the popular opinion is absolutely spot on.

Many are not buying the theory Tim Sheehan put forth about adding that much more population to the census tract. Waypointe, Head of the Harbor and Avalon are filled with more than enough residents, combined with the rest of Norwalk’s dense population (new apartments in walkable Sono and let us not discount the ever swelling influx of N.Y. plate day trippers who shop in Norwalk weekly and take up all the parking spots at our beach) to have that area bustling. Norwalk is not hurting for people. Never was. Neither are Norwalk’s overcrowded schools, as we who have school aged children and who are involved with NPS are well aware.

We in Norwalk are being squeezed. We are suffering from overdensity, lack of public green space and tree canopy coverage, poor infrastructure and inadequately designed, unenforced roads congested with road rage traffic. We are desperately aching for smart planning which places emphasis on existing residents’ quality of life. Adding that many more people into what is essentially a giant, retrofitted, storage unit building made of the cheapest grade materials to add to our ever growing collection does not equate smart planning, nor is it adding to the revitalization of Wall Street in any substantial way. It sure suits McClutchy and your campaign funds off of our backs though. We need more outdoor public green spaces, and more small businesses to bolster the already existing amazing ones which appear to be doing just fine despite your botch job.

We are blessed to have the WSNA, which has become a catalyst for creating buzz and energizing the Wall Street area with events and gatherings, come out of all of this POKO drama. WSNA in their actions have proven that smart promotion and event planning, and a strong sense of community, not fortress apartments, are what bring people together and out to patronize local businesses. I am highly disappointed that a McGuire was not one of your five chosen for all of their efforts and excellent proactive input in revitalizing the Wall Street area. Please seek out a Plan B., Mayor Rilling.

Mayor Rilling, we are still waiting for a full explanation as to why your administration did not choose to halt this plan in 2014 when it started to really stink. We are waiting to hear why you have not requested a full on forensic audit of Norwalk’s RDA since 2015 so we can see where all of our taxpayer money has evaporated to unaccounted for. We do not understand why Mr. Sheehan has been allowed to leave without being held accountable. We are waiting to hear from you in full detail what the two opinions about the RDA which you say exist actually are and why you have stated that neither opinion is wrong. Please clarify. Transparency, please.

We are waiting to hear where the supposed several million given to POKO from Senator Duff was absorbed. So many questions. Though one who can possibly answer all these questions is now walking away unscathed, why are some of the enablers of this POKO botch job still employed by the city? Why is one heading up and rewriting the rules of the Board of Ethics Commission to omit vexatious filers in what appears to be a serious conflict of interest?

Mayor Rilling, you state that our kids cannot afford to live here in order to justify this poor land use affordable housing proposal, almost as if your leadership has had nothing to do with this reality. What has been your comprehensive plan since 2013 to forge a burgeoning local economy and grow more corporate job opportunities with a big picture goal of ensuring that our kids will be able to afford to work/live where they grew up? Have you decreased taxes and grown the grand list by cutting excessive spending and bloated bureaucracy and curbing your tax and spend habits? Have property values increased? Nope.

Mayor Rilling, please stop selling out Norwalk on the cheap. Quality of life is suffering. Democracy is compromised. Hand the reigns over to someone who possesses business expertise, who can truly listen to Norwalkers and put the horse back before the cart. Please vote for change this November, Norwalkers. Let’s take our city back. If incumbent Mayor Rilling wins yet again, you will have to be subjected to two more years of dismissive, stagnant dictatorship.

Claire Schoen June 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

Really good coverage of a very complicated project – Thank you, Nancy. This is where I pop in to remind readers that we can always use more support, so please consider becoming a sustaining donor, or let us know if you’d like to volunteer. The news isn’t free. And who else gives you links the the primary documents?

In terms of this proposal, I don’t understand why there wouldn’t be at least a few market-rate units to subsidize the others. What’s the benefit – tax credits? Why not ensure full occupancy by having some units at market rate?

What am I missing here?

Norwalk native June 29, 2019 at 11:22 am

Rilling has some interesting sound bites that have been scripted for him, but I really need to hear from Mayor Laoise before I can be swayed on this one.

What is the Mayor’s official position? Will she go on the record?

Ct. V June 29, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Great reporting here. I still don’t get all the details, but it is pretty clear that no one should trust Citi or McClutchy here. Neither of them seem to have the long term best interest of Norwalk anywhere on their list of concerns. Sometimes that’s ok and the interests naturally align. That doesn’t seem like the case here.

Isabelle Hargrove June 29, 2019 at 1:57 pm

One more huge generic big-box, fortress apartment complex that adds nothing authentic or appealing to our downtown area. A me-too project to Stamford only further away from NYC, with no businesses around, and definitely not as hip.

Another project with a negative ROI for Norwalk taxpayers. A 100 rentals who will use our schools and infrastructure while paying negligible taxes to support their use. A market rate project a fraction of its size would generate less use and more tax dollars.

How long are we going to allow this administration to destroy Norwalk while generating no revenues?

Jason Milligan June 29, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Link to POKO Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XQPGKGK

Survey Results so far

Which will Mayor Rilling publish 1st?
1. Entire POKO Explanatory Statement 50.00%
2. The names of the Phantom 5 Stakeholder supporters 20.00%
3. His resignation 10.00%

Would it be conflict of interest for Tim Sheehan to work for Citibank as an off the books consultant?
Yes 95.24%
No 4.76%

Should the City of Norwalk terminate the LDA & start over?
Yes 90.91%
No 9.09%

Should the Mayor & Council engage with the Wall Street Neighborhood Association and other area stakeholders before rushing an unsupported plan forward?
Yes 90.91%
No 9.09%

Should the City of Norwalk financially support Citibank’s $80 Million POKO Plan?
Yes 9.52%
No 90.48%

Paul June 29, 2019 at 6:22 pm

We should consider a protest (file a permit) with police and invite mayoral candidates to speak, lots of press and a big caricature ballon of the mayor. Wall Street residents and business unite ..THE REAL STOCKHOLDERS

Debora Goldstein July 2, 2019 at 6:22 pm

The last set of plans approved by P&Z in Jan 2015 “shaved” stories off the original POKO plan, for FIVE stories, not six.

And this is my favorite:
As part of the public infrastructure improvements 29 additional on-street spaces will be made available by the City that will not count toward any required development parking. Will these be free? After the City began charging Liberty Square residents for their on-street parking?

Debora Goldstein July 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Correction #2 Construction stopped in August 2016, not 2015. It took seventeen months to default the loan, not five.

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