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McClutchys present ‘POKO’ plan, answer Norwalk questions

A 15-year-old Wall Street Place rendering flashes on the Common Council chambers screen Thursday in City Hall, with Mayor Harry Rilling reacting at right. (Harold Cobin)

NORWALK, Conn. — John and Todd McClutchy publicly pitched their plan to finish a stalled apartment building at Wall and Isaac Streets.

The 100% affordable housing-plan to restart construction on Wall Street Place, commonly referred to as “POKO,” includes keeping Isaac Street in a one-way configuration, Todd McClutchy said Thursday to the Common Council Planning Committee. Retail space was removed from the Isaac Street side of the building to provide “desperately” needed parking spaces, and loans from two state agencies are part of the funding stack.

As previously reported, the Garden Cinemas would be demolished to build a two-story parking garage and the 101 apartments over ground floor retail will cost a total of $80 million, a sum that includes what McClutchy called $19 million in “sunk costs” for Citibank.

Video of entire meeting, by Harold Cobin, at end of story

“It’s a tremendous sum and what Citibank’s mission here is that … the new money has to be something that is viable, something that is sustainable, so that they are putting good money into the development,” McClutchy said.

Citibank had no representatives at the meeting. The bank, which controls the Tyvek-wrapped monolith through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, plans to issue a $35 million construction loan to finance the project. It will buy $25 to $30 million in 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits at a higher than market rate to provide equity for the project, McClutchy said.

“Citibank is going to take a loss on this deal no matter what happens. They are willing to stick with it and provide the financing going forward because they don’t want to leave the City of Norwalk with a hole,” McClutchy said.

The plan now under consideration publicly was developed through two years of negotiations, in which both sides made significant concessions, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said, explaining that the Council presentation is just the start of the process as it will, if moved along by the Council, need approval by the Zoning Commission and the Redevelopment Agency.

“This isn’t done in the dark of night, this is the first of many meetings,” Attorney William Hennessey said, representing the McClutchys and their JHM Group.

Five of the six Council Planning Committee members seemed amenable to the plan. Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E) asked many sharp questions, called the parking garage “horrendous,” and then voted against sending the proposal to public hearing. It passed on a 5-1-0 vote and is planned for July 18.

 

To review

Wall Street Place has its origins in a 2004 Wall Street redevelopment plan. The planned three-phase project is governed by a Land Disposition Agreement signed in 2007; it gained initial Zoning approval in 2008. POKO Partners then obtained extensions on its LDA deadlines, finally beginning construction in 2015 after receiving its final extension under Mayor Harry Rilling.

Construction on “POKO” then halted in June 2016 due to a $9 million budget shortfall. A parking shortfall then developed: The Zoning Commission had allowed some of the needed parking spaces to be moved onto phase II of the project, which became an issue when Citibank took over phase I as Citibank does not own phase II. Real estate broker Jason Milligan bought the phase II parcel, the former Leonard Street municipal parking lot, in May 2018, further complicating the situation.

The City and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency have sued Milligan and Richard Olson of POKO Partners over this transaction, seeking to regain control over the property.

The project was approved for 36% affordable housing in 2015. The LDA actually calls for a minimum of 20% affordable housing, Sheehan said Thursday.

 

High affordable component?

Todd McClutchy, left, and John McClutchy speak to Norwalk Common Council members, Thursday in City Hall.

“We hold most every project we ever developed,” John McClutchy said, addressing concerns from some that the developer will take its development fee and then sell the completed project.

The father-son pair touted their accomplishments in building The Heights, a Darien affordable housing project, as evidence of their ability to restart Wall Street Place. Neighbors said their homes would be devalued but instead the values have increased, and the project is a “huge success” with a constant waiting list of people looking to move in, John McClutchy said.

The elder McClutchy said the company has been in housing for 50 years, has built 55,000 units of housing and 5.5 million square feet of retail/commercial space throughout the country. JHM is partnering with The Richman Group on Wall Street Place, continuing a partnership that has created 150,000 units of housing.

“I believe, personally, that the development we have come up with fits the profile of the city,” John McClutchy said. “I believe that the people who will live there will reflect the character and the income streams within the city because it’s not one low-income stream, it’s several. And it’s in different categories.”

Some have said that Wall Street Place will be unsustainable, destined to fall into disrepair due to its affordable housing status.

That happens to developments that are over-leveraged, resulting in rents that don’t go up as much as expenses do, McClutchy said.

“I have built under every program that HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) has had since the early 70s,” he said. “The Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which is the result of Tax Reform Act of 1986, is the most successful of all of them because what it did is it provided a way to subsidize rents by providing enough capital to offset your costs, make sure that you have true sustainability in these deals.”

Citibank is “paying 10 to 15% more than the current market typically generates,” Todd McClutchy said. “That allows for nearly $28 million to be generated.”

“As part of the underwriting process (with Citibank)… there are adequate operating and replacement reserves to instill that the long-term sustainability of the project is viable,” he said, adding that JHM’s “concentration of developments in Connecticut” allows it to get “better bang” for its buck.

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is planning to fund the project with a $5 million loan and the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) will award a $3.5 million loan, Todd McClutchy said.

Livingston pushed back, asking if the project was using municipal borrowing capabilities.

The tax-exempt bonds are “sponsored by a local agency and then those are issued by the state,” McClutchy said, and Sheehan chimed in, “the local agency could be the Redevelopment Agency” or CHFA (Connecticut Housing Finance Authority). The Norwalk Housing Authority could sponsor the bonds or the City could, McClutchy interjected.

It won’t affect the City’s or the Redevelopment Agency’s credit rating, as, “These have to be supported by the income from the project itself,” John McClutchy said.

The project failed under POKO, with its 36% affordable housing, Sheehan pointed out.

“The people that the mall is going to employ would be able to live in that district and hopefully be able to walk to work,” he said.

 

 

Criticisms and replies

Other Council commentary referred to the Wall Street historic district, the area’s artistic spirit and the $4.4 million in City infrastructure costs.

The LDA calls for the latter, for all three phases; that could be available to phase I, Sheehan said, calling it “up to the city to make the determination.”

“The developer is paying for the public infrastructure cost and then being reimbursed after its completed,” Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola said.

There are historic properties in the district, but Wall Street Place is not one of them, Sheehan and Director of Community Development Planning Tami Strauss said, in response to Livingston.

Public criticism came before the McClutchys and their team spoke.

The Wall Street Neighborhood Association has a vision for the Garden Cinemas, as it expected that the Cinemas would be purchased and donated to the Association, becoming the centerpiece of an annual film festival and a community hub, Marc Alan said, voicing hope for wiggle room on the parking garage planned to replace the theater.

Tod Bryant produced a 15-year-old Wall Street Place rendering and said it was virtually the same as the new rendering, an update from what was approved in 2015.

That new rendering is a “stock design,” that will “destroy the street,” Bryant said. “This is a statement building. This is what people are going to remember Norwalk for, there’s SoNo, there’s the mall and this building.”

Milligan said that the plan to keep Isaac Street one-way would result in “no legal viable exit.”  Attorney Daniel Benjamin, who represents John Dias in his “POKO”-related lawsuit against the City and Redevelopment Agency, pointed out that the only exit drivers will have from the one-way-Isaac will be Milligan’s lot, the former Leonard Street municipal parking lot,

“How many cars are going to go there, day and night? Is there a potential danger there by exiting through the parking lot?” he asked.

Unaffiliated Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton assailed the tax break JHM will get, reduced property taxes for 15 years, by asserting that Norwalkers are fed up with their steadily increasing tax bills and asking, “Why do they get a deal that the rest of us don’t get?”

Replies came as the meeting wore on: the tax deal is already part of the LDA, which calls for the property’s owner to pay 7.5 % of the residential gross income for 15 years, the LIHTC period, Coppola said.

It had been proposed as $215,000 a year to Norwalk but is now projected at $195,000 a year, Todd McClutchy explained.

JHM and Citibank tried to change the tax agreement but the City stood firm, Coppola said, calling it not an abatement but more of a tax fixing agreement and pointing out that Trinity Financial has a similar deal for Soundview Landing, the replacement for Washington Village, and other Fairfield County towns do similar things.

Isaac Street is one-way now, Todd McClutchy said; that situation dates to when POKO owned the Leonard Street lot, and Milligan is allowing traffic to move through there now.

McClutchy suggested that other options could be looked at, possibly to create a turn around. Mayor Harry Rilling said the City is prepared to make Isaac Street a two-way street.

JHM proposes removing 1,000 square feet of retail to provide parking spaces, McClutchy said, suggesting that arts businesses could go into the remaining retail.

Council member Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) asked if there could be an arts installation in the parking garage.

“That’s an interesting idea,” Hennessy said. “Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to us and it should have. We will think about it.”

Former Mayor Bill Collins asked if the City could have worked toward foreclosing on the property. Eventually, that might have worked out, but it would have taken years, Coppola said.

As for the look, architect Michael Weissbrod explained that JHM is proposing mostly the same mix of materials planned in 2015, brick veneer, fiber cement siding and panels, and some aluminum siding on the top.

Todd McClutchy said changes were made to the materials to “freshen it up” and other changes planned to give the building depth, with architectural features to soften the building.

“It’s so imposing right now because it’s all one color and there’s no push and pull of materials,” Weisbrod said. “…This project, at least for me, is creating a sense of space. We feel this project has the potential to be a very vibrant hub for downtown Norwalk.”

25 comments

Enough July 8, 2019 at 5:36 am

100 more apartments on an already strained infrastructure. That building does not fit that area at all.

Milly July 8, 2019 at 6:09 am

Enough – you are 100% right – how do they not see that it is too huge for that area. At the end of Wall St where Head of the Harbor is the city has been there multiple times flushing the sewer line. Plus the city is allowing parking on Mill Hill for that buildings benefit.

Lisa Brinton July 8, 2019 at 6:31 am

There seems to be total disregard by this administration over the tax implications of this new deal, or they don’t understand math.

This development including the mall, Washington Village replacement, Ironworks and now Poko have tax credits- yet ALL add more people and more expense to the city without corresponding tax revenue. The strain on the city’s infrastructure including roads, beaches, schools, etc. has never been more evident than this summer.

The operating budget continues to climb, largely dominated by a school system we are struggling to pay for. This building, with the majority being 2-3 bedrooms will add families with students.

I am also disappointed that Barbara Smyth, an NPS educator (whom I voted for) only asked about public art in the garage, but neglected to ask pointed questions about families with children and the added NPS burden without sufficient tax revenue.

Lastly, the presentation by the JHM Group about the Darien project bore no resemblance to what we are facing here in Norwalk. We are already a diverse city, with 14% affordable housing. At issue is how local taxpayers are bailing out a bank, providing a hefty fee to the developer and assuming costs for the next 15 years.

Jason Milligan July 8, 2019 at 7:23 am

“The plan now under consideration publicly was developed through two years of negotiations, in which both sides made significant concessions, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said.”

Wow. If that is true then the city and Agency are really bad at negotiating!

The city gave a free parking lot with 120 public spaces. We are getting back 40 spaces.

Please explain how a one-way dead end works…

Making Isaacs into two-way doesn’t magically provide an exit either. It just makes it a two-way dead end with no place to turn around.

The original plan and LDA require the city to build New Street #1 where the Dias El Dorado Club and the Vitale People’s Chicken building currently are. Land acquisition alone to build the New St would now cost about $3.5 million.

Do Nothing!!

The Citibank/McClutchy deal is terrible for Wall St and terrible for Norwalk.

We should not let Harry’s election jitters determine Wall Street’s fate for the next 50 years.

Bill Nightingale July 8, 2019 at 9:44 am

so these are the hard ball questions we get for our common council reps on the Planning Committee?

” Council member Barbara Smyth (D-At Large) asked if there could be an arts installation in the parking garage.”

No wonder Norwalk finds itself with these failures.

Bill Nightingale July 8, 2019 at 9:46 am

Why is the Redevelopment Agency allowed to have anything to do with this project? The RDA has been a total utter complete failure in everything it does. It needs to be abolished.

CAROL July 8, 2019 at 9:57 am

the public has to demand hearings at every step of the way. it is our tax $$$$ that are going to go up so a few buddies can build a future nightmare for norwalk.
PEOPLE WAKE UP,THIS IS FOREVER,DEMAND YOUR RIGHTS AS CITIZENS TO BE HEARD.

Patrick Cooper July 8, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Executive Director Tim Sheehan? Huh? I thought that as of July 1 – he worked for the city of Springfield MA. One can only wonder why he would continue to stump here.

I noticed the McClutchy team didn’t mention the 5.1 million dollar payment they receive. I also noticed the story doesn’t explain how they were selected because of their very public displays of affection for the state democratic party. Remember – we had to get them on board before the Malloy administration was done? – because who knows – an R might have won.

This whole project stinks to high heaven – but guess what – Norwalk is literally asleep on these shenanigans – has been for decades – and the mayor and CC know this well. That’s why it’s all about the democratic party – that is the only pressure. Harry is loyal to a fault. They want bodies – any bodies – to fund the beast. They get sales tax, and maybe some income tax receipts – and surely some reliable votes. Norwalk gets virtually nothing for that parcel relative to potential property tax receipts – for 15 years – but remember – “it’s not an abatement – it’s a tax fixing agreement”. Super Mario spin. Our costs will far outstrip the revenue – but no one wants to say out loud – single family homeowners will get the bill. Every single time.

This 14-1 common council is a disgrace. Zero concern for the taxpayers – no knowledge or expertise demonstrated in the line of questioning. Not one member of this CC should receive so much as a single vote this November – including the mayor. That is the message that needs to be delivered – loudly and soundly – so that this type of behavior never happens again.

Rusty Guardrail July 8, 2019 at 12:13 pm

NAYSAYERS, right? Yeah, I’m a naysayer, and a whiner and a complainer. Complaining about mis-use of tax revenue.
Passing around some spoils for campaign supporters before they all get voted out.
No doubt Rilling’s building will bring an onslaught of independent retailers: Pawn shops, dollar stores, check cashing bureaus and payday loan sharks.
A DEAD-END ONE-WAY STREET, and America’s Last New Mall (at our expense).
BUT maybe there will be an art exhibit in the garage. That oughta solve it, right?

Tony P July 8, 2019 at 2:18 pm

I mean, aside from the financial nonsense and political paybacks, can someone tell me why we can’t get architecture like the drawing Harry is sitting in front of? At least it’ll be a nice looking boondoggle.

Jeff July 9, 2019 at 1:30 pm

I’m so happy they might possibly maybe consider an art exhibit in the garage.
Based on how this whole process has been run, my guess is it’ll take six years and cost $4m to end up with a stack of finger paintings done by the kindergartners who run city hall.

james gallacher July 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm

The Heights in Darien? Is anyone else familiar with that development? They are very nice 2 story condos located right near Rings End and the houses near them are well maintained 1500 – 1800 sq ft homes. Of course the property values went up. It is a quiet neighborhood that has literally nothing in common with the POKO project. There are roughly 100 units in Darien spanning 10+ acres. I’m sure everyone involved with POKO knows these two projects are not even remotely similar.

POKO is massive. Much larger than the picture with rilling. It dwarfs the neighborhood and lacks any charm that rendering has.

Lisa pointed out the strain on our roads. We live near calf pasture. East Avenue is impassable now almost all day long. It is not just because of the beach. Cars come from Fort Point and Van Zant and go northbound to then race to the left to get on i95 south. It doesn’t work. I asked Rilling about this before he took office the first time and he assured me it was a priority. 6 years later it’s worse than ever. All of his priorities should just be classified as ‘worse than ever’

Mark Demmerle July 9, 2019 at 5:12 pm

The project has been a disaster!!
The proposed facade is arrogant and condescending. It’s an insult to the town and those interested in intellectual and informative films to demolish The Garden. It’s a crime the way this abomination of a project has destroyed The Garden’s business. The entire mess smacks of crooked dealings. Negotiations should have included a new space for The Garden Cinema. Ugly project!

Debora Goldstein July 9, 2019 at 7:15 pm

James G,

Rest assured, the City is all over it. Using the excuse of the Walk Bridge, they are widening and lowering East Avenue and reconstructing the parking and the railroad bridge so the area looks (and functions) like downtown Port Chester.

You won’t have to worry about changing lanes, as the block-long tractor trailer trucks will make it nigh on impossible as they sit belching diesel exhaust at the poorly timed traffic lights.

Norwalk Lost July 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm

Can anything stop the city’s transformation to a “Bridgeport South” glide path trajectory? Basic common sense dictates the city’s infrastructure and amenities are already at capacity with the influx of mass scale apartment development. Why are these developments continuing to be approved at tax payers expense? As witnessed this summer, city beaches are overcrowded and no longer represent Norwalk’s attractive draws. I can only imagine how education, police,and fire budgets will far exceed the minimal tax revenue these monstrosities will contribute.

Mitch Adis July 9, 2019 at 9:57 pm

If I recall correctly, when Mr Milligan let the “100% affordable housing” cat out of the bag, City Hall denied it and called it a lie. Now that it’s confirmed, what do we call this? I’d say it’s a lie. How can we trust Mayor Rilling? How can we vote for someone with such a big character flaw?

Fibbing Rilling strikes again.

Mitch Adis July 9, 2019 at 10:03 pm

Saint Citibank is doing this because they don’t want to leave Norwalk with a big hole? Don’t believe it. They are doing it because they are in business to make money. This is the best deal for Citibank NOT Norwalk.

Jim Tucciarone July 10, 2019 at 8:34 am

I am one of the stakeholders in this area. I am the owner/managing member of several commercial properties in this area, one on Isaac Street. My investment partner aske me to evaluate the new proposed project. My response:
This “project” is a disaster. No need to dwell on the past and how we arrived here.
The “rescue” plan is a hodgepodge of trying to make sugar out of manure. Not easy and will never taste good.
Unfortunately,Norwalk does not have the will, intelligence, money, plan, focus or capability to handle this situation.
In my opinion the project should be abandoned, the property reclaimed by the City and the parking lot restored (easier said than done but still the right direction).
End of story. Take your loss and move on. Nothing good will come from chasing a failed deal with a new, half baked recovery plan that does not fit the future needs of trying to restore/renew this area.

Bryan Meek July 10, 2019 at 11:02 am

If you have a 401k or mutual funds with blended investments, it is highly likely that you own shares of Citibank.

Call or write them and tell them what you think of this land grab. Tell them that you will make a conscious effort to shop with banks that are responsible corporate citizens.

[email protected]

Phone: 813-604-2778

My bet is that if they had enough negative feedback they would look into whoever the low level manager is that is about to earn a fat bonus check on the backs of Norwalk taxpayers.

Mike McGuire July 10, 2019 at 7:37 pm

TOm Livingston is the only person in the administration to reach out to the stakeholders on Wall Street. I applauded his courage- now if the rest of the CC members would stand up and ask for alternatives prior to approving this ramrod project.

It’s simple , just ask RDA for the backup and support for the alternative scenarios looked at. If they give you anything I would be happy to review it for you and explain it, with Tim Sheehan present So he can explain his reasons.

If they don’t have anything don’t you think it wise to ask why, then demand this be done prior to giving McClutchy $5 million and in the process further burden the Norwalk taxpayer.

Market rate developers would be very interested in this project if the City of Norwalk denies this project and terminated the LDA.

Or the City could delay approval until a thorough investigation was conducted into RDA deliberate misleading the City of Norwalk into approving the highly fraudulent Wall West Avenue Plan which is needed for this project to go through.

I bet RDA will provide nothing because I don’t believe they ever seriously looked at other optiion since it is not in their best interest ( yes to hell with the taxpayer).

To hell with the taxpayer seems to be the moto. The upcoming meetings will be rubber stamping since not one person on those agencies understands what has happened or that they have been duped by RDA.

Eloisa Melendez. Don’t you think you should focus on the serious issues in your district? We have never heard from you despite repeated attempts to have you to a WSNA meeting.

Fellow Taxpayer July 10, 2019 at 7:49 pm

Wake up fellow taxpayers – – $5 million development fee for one year to complete a development that already has a poured foundation and a steel structure! $35 million to complete 100 units? And what’s the other $75 million for? How much have you spent on your home extension or renovation. Wow! How do I jump on that gravy train. And they have found a council stupid enough to vote for it, even without a payout. How much cash does he put into the deal? I would bet that number is $0. So what is the $5 million for? Also, I heard the “reduced” rents are still high, and i would bet they are pretty close to what one can find in the exiting rental market. And, most of the landlords in the existing rental market pay taxes! Think about it. Who are these five council members representing anyway. Certainly not the Taxpayers.

EnoPride July 11, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Crosskey Architect Michael Weissbrod comment on Wall Street Place structure:

“It’s so imposing right now because it’s all one color and there’s no push and pull of materials.”

No, Mr. Weissbrod, it’s so imposing right now because it’s a glaringly outscaled, colossal mistake of a box, devoid of 3 dimensional architectural design elements, compliments of the Rilling Administration/RDA. Norwalkers know this all too well. Mr. McClutchy himself in the video said the design lacks depth. I hope the Common Council at least holds him to that statement and to a better design for the GAAAASP worthy tax break he will be receiving off of our backs. Who are they kidding here, aside from our “boxed in” mayor, RDA, Mario Coppola and Common Council? And no, the jail cell barred balconies don’t count as successful design element implementation. Color block the colossal box and cover it up with a cheapy 2D mix of surface materials, and it will still read as a colossal box. No amount of cosmetic fixes, or “freshening up”, as Todd McClutchy voiced, can make “imposing” disappear, but a wrecking ball sure can. No architect needed here. JHM Group and Mr. Weissbrod of Crosskey are putting lipstick on a pig, and Mayor Rilling, RDA and the Common Council are buying it for 80 million. There is a good reason why Mr. Livingston looks so miserable in the video.

If City Hall refuses to tear up the LDA to get us out of this negligent, waste of money bailout mess they have created, and refuses to go with a developer with creative vision, then at very least, our officials should work with JHM Group and Mr. Weissbrod and demand that the facade aesthetics look more like a pared down version of the 15 year old rendition which Tod Bryant presented. The design should look not faux historic, nor like a stock design storage container building lacking architectural elements. To Mr. Bryant’s point, WSP should be a statement building for its key locale. Chop stories two and three off of that dang thing (Why 100 apartments? Why not 50? Less infrastructure strain.) so it jives more scalewise with the bank and the Wall Street Theater. Knock a part of it down altogether and design an outdoor tree-lined courtyard to complement a reimagined Garden Cinema. What is going on here? Such a lost opportunity. You have let us down, City Hall/RDA. At bare minimum, insist that JHM Group rework the design.

While Norwalk gets subpar design, the McClutchys’ hometown of Darien, a town where residents flip out if signage doesn’t match and lose sleep if storefront facades and picket fenced homes don’t look as perfectly coiffed and uniformly designed as a town in a toy train set, gets “The Heights”. Though remotely different building types/projects altogether, The Heights is a much nicer looking affordable housing product than Norwalk’s Wall Street Place proposal, an apartment-retrofitted storage unit design at the heart of our city which detracts from the neighboring historic buildings.

Can Mayor Rilling and CC members stand up for all of us and call out the honking product disparity between the two communities? Norwalk gets a cheap looking, eyesore misfit with ZERO sensitivity to proper scale and architectural detail to integrate with historically significant buildings, while Darien gets more dimensional, more aesthetically appealing apartments? The product disparity is as nonsensical is it is inequitable. JHM Group would never in this lifetime build the unattractive storage unit look in Darien, so why is that cruddy design aesthetic acceptable for Norwalk?

While reading an article on The Heights to see what it is all about, I was struck not in a good way by Senator Blumenthal’s comments about the apartments:

“U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that he believes if an unknowing person was told The Heights was an affordable-housing complex, they wouldn’t believe it because of the ‘stereotypes and stigmas’ associated with affordable housing.”

More from Mr. Blumenthal about “The Heights”:

“These homes are gracious, welcoming, beautiful and have a really transformational effect on that neighborhood because they are very much homes that accommodate families of diverse economic backgrounds and really contribute to the life of the entire community.”

Would Mr. Blumenthal care to comment on Norwalk’s Wall Street Place design, or did he already indirectly do that? This WSP design proposal is the very embodiment of what he speaks unflatteringly of as “the stereotypes and stigmas associated with affordable housing”. Will WSP’s cheap looking aesthetic and improper scale have “a really transformational effect on that neighborhood” of Wall Steet? Perhaps we residents can ask Mayor Rilling and the CC why they are force feeding us the stereotyped and stigmatized version of affordable housing by a Darien developer who would never dare serve that up to his own community? Mr. Bryant at least tried when he said that Crosskey Architects has produced much better quality work than what we are going to get. Are we not worthy of, as Blumenthal refers to the Darien finished product, “gracious, welcoming and beautiful”, ESPECIALLY after the 19 million in sunk costs POKO/“Tyvek Temple” botch Wall Street residents and business owners have been put through compliments of the Rilling Administration?

This current “sunk costs” Norwalk City Hall and RDA is wasting taxpayer money like crazy due to obvious mismanagement. Where is the forensic audit of RDA since 2015? Taxpayers should demand that Mayor Rilling call for a forensic audit of RDA. City Hall is not advocating for residents and is not fighting hard enough for the best possible finished product for this Norwalk land use, so we will get an obscenely overpriced, subpar product as compared to our neighboring town. Another of several reasons to vote for change this November. Norwalk can no longer afford this costly rash of poor land use decision making by this administration, which is squandering opportunity along with taxpayer dollars and sucking the character out of our “what could be”, lovely, WELL DESIGNED, coastal city brimming with maritime charm.

Debora Goldstein July 13, 2019 at 6:08 pm

All,

We have the City Hall we keep voting for. If you want your government back, then take it back this November. The appointments flow from the top.

This administration is so confident you won’t, that they feel perfectly comfortable ignoring people who ask to serve on Commissions.

Three different agencies felt perfectly comfortable ignoring a petition signed by 300 citizens, without a word of discussion at any of their meetings about it.

This Council rarely answers emails from people they deem “naysayers”.

If you agree this is arrogance, and want something to change, you will have to make it happen. Start by giving an assist to those so-called nay-sayers who are giving voice to your own thoughts and feelings about City decisions.

Give more than a cursory glance to the stated positions of people running for office this fall. Take a look at the voting records of the current officeholders who are seeking to be re-elected.

Go onto the city website and check on the appointments and reappointments to the boards, commissions and agencies. If you want to know who is responsible, check the minutes from the council meeting where that person was appointed (or more likely reappointed) and see who spoke about that person’s glowing credentials, or how nice a person he/she was. Weigh that against the decisions you are seeing them make.

The citizenry can inflict change, if it really wants to. But we can’t do it from Nancy’s comments pages.

Debora Goldstein July 13, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Public Hearing July 18th, 7pm in Council Chambers

Agenda indicates that they are advancing the project to the full council. Not possible advancement. Not decision on whether to advance, but that the decision is already made.

2. Advance Municipal Holdings LLC’s Proposal including the proposed amendments to the LDA and LRA for Phase I of the Wall Street Place Project to the Common Council for approval.

https://www.norwalkct.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/14961

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