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Three developers endorse plan to restart ‘POKO’ construction

The Tyvek needs to go away, Carl Kuenher, Mike DiScala and Stanley Seligson said, asserting that Citibank is willing to spend the money to complete the planned apartment building and alternatives are not good.

NORWALK, Conn. – The newly released plan to restart construction on the stalled “POKO” development is about as good as it could be, three prominent Norwalk developers told NancyOnNorwalk.

Mike DiScala, Carl Kuehner and Stanley Seligson met with Mayor Harry Rilling recently to evaluate the plan, along with Tom Rich and Clay Fowler. Rilling said he sought their advice before moving ahead with the deal negotiated with Citibank and John and Todd McClutchy of JHM Group, Citi’s preferred redeveloper for the project.

“These are some of the most prestigious and respected leaders in commercial, mixed-use, and residential development projects in the country. They agreed with our view – Wall Street Place is a good project for Norwalk,” Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan said in a Saturday press release.

That description is accurate, said Kuehner, CEO of Building and Land Technology, Inc (BLT), a Stamford developer currently building apartments on Glover Avenue here.

DiScala and Seligson’s support was more tepid.

“The consensus was ‘what’s the alternative at this point?’” Seligson said Monday. “You don’t want to drive by Wall Street and see a Tyvek-tied building, that’s incomplete. It just looks bad. If a potential tenant comes into the area and they see that, it’s questionable. It makes it look like there’s a problems.  I’d rather solve the problem, build it, and then try to do some nice things around it.”

DiScala on Friday said the amount of money being spent on the project is crazy and he’s never been a fan of the mixed-use development, especially the underground parking garage. But under the circumstances, given that somebody dropped the ball and allowed Jason Milligan to gain ownership of parking the project needs, the new plan is the best option available.

“Is the idea perfect? Hell no,” DiScala said. “I would have done things a lot different if I had a chance but guess what? I want to see this attractive corner. Seeing this Tyvek building sitting there, an eyesore for Norwalk or people taking potshots at it, it doesn’t do any good for anybody.”

Rich and Fowler did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The five developers “have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Norwalk,” Morgan’s press release said.

 

A little background info

“POKO,” of course, is the partially completed Wall Street Place apartment building on the corner of Wall and Isaac Streets, a proposal that has its roots in a 2004 redevelopment plan. Construction stalled in June 2016 as a result of a $9 million budget gap, and the original developer went bankrupt; Citibank took control of the property through a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure and has been negotiating with the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the City to restart construction, and comply with a Land Disposition Agreement calling for 100 public parking spaces.

The parking is a major roadblock, as prior developer Ken Olson was granted Zoning approval to move some of the required spaces off the Wall Street lot and onto land that was planned to become part of Wall Street Place phase II. Olson has died and Citibank does not control that land. Citi thought it had a deal to purchase it from Richard Olson, sources say, but Milligan bought it in May 2018.

The new plan involves purchasing and demolishing the Garden Cinemas to provide land for a two-story parking garage. The project would, if approved by City governmental bodies, be 100% affordable housing, with its 101 apartments divided into thirds: one part for households making 40% of the Area Median Income (AMI), one third for those making 60% AMI and one third for those making 80% AMI. This includes 12 three-bedroom apartments, to be divided equally among income levels.

The plan would be financed with $25-30 million in 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits and a $35 million Citibank construction loan.

“POKO” was originally approved to provide 36% of its apartments as affordable housing, “affordable” to the extent that the project would have provided services for people who were recently homeless, sources said.

 

Seligson

The “new” plan is basically what’s been planned all along, Seligson said Monday.

The façade has improved a little and while he doesn’t know JHM, “evidently” they build much affordable housing, he explained.

“Right now, it’s sits there,” Seligson said.  He disagrees with predictions that the affordable housing-building will be a blight are wrong, because of its size.  “It’s only 100 units or so.”

“If you can activate the retail on the first floor, that’s good. Why let it just languish there for another three or four years? That’s my feeling. If you’re going to activate Wall Street at all, get it done. It looks terrible to go by that.”

Seligson has been Chairman and CEO of S&S Companies, a multi-faceted Norwalk-based group of companies with interests in distribution, real estate development, construction, leasing and property management, according to its website. His resume includes conceiving what has now become the Waypointe area, years ago.

What kind of “nice things” would he hope for around Wall Street Place?

“There isn’t an abundance of what you want to do. I think restaurants would certainly improve it. I think the city is willing to make the Zoning as easy as possible to encourage development there… It’s a job to activate (the street) but you’re not helping it by having a building wrapped in Tyvek,” Seligson said.  He added that Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development Jessica Casey “seems very competent.”

“It’s not necessarily my first choice of what I’d build there but it’s done, it’s up,” Seligson said. “If Citibank is willing to finance it and work it out, at least you have got a project that’s completed.”

What would happen if the Common Council and Redevelopment Agency did not approve the plan?

“If they didn’t go forward with it, it would end up in some sort of litigation,” Seligson said, qualifying his observations as not being based on a strong understanding of the mechanics of the project’s financing. “I don’t know what Citi would do. It’s nothing that would be done quickly. You could knock it down and start from scratch, that’s kind of ridiculous.”

 

 

Kuehner

It’s “not in today’s best interests” to not move forward with the plan, given that the project is not on the tax roles and is a “deteriorating asset,” Kuehner said Monday. Completing it would be a benefit to the neighborhood and city at large.

 

DiScala

The “skin” and the “presence” of the planned building is “to me very attractive,” DiScala said Friday, cautioning that the City had better not let JHM cut corners and “change the skin to something else, that I would really be opposed to. The building itself is OK. It looks good. It certainly looks better what we have there now, that’s for sure.”

He sought to “dispel some of the misnomers” around the expected loss of the Garden Cinemas.

“First of all, the theater was and is for sale,” DiScala said, explaining that owner Richard Freedman has also sought to sell his Stamford cinema arthouse.

DiScala would prefer an larger parking garage with more apartments over it, because “urban renewal is all about density. You need more people to shop. All this retail you see going up or they want you to build is really dead on arrival unless you have people living there…. So the apartments over the deck was something I really thought was it would be better but that’s okay. I can live without it.”

Wall Street historically, back in the 1800s, was very dense with people and retail thrived, explained DiScala.  He added that he has invested $30 million in the Wall Street area because he loves it.

His comments mirrored Seligson’s: with “only” 101 apartments, the cries of “blight” are really out of proportion, with people making it sound like there will be 1,000 apartments, he said.

“I have affordable units at Head of the Harbor,” DiScala said, referring to the required 10% workforce housing in his new apartment buildings on the Norwalk River, down the road from Wall Street Place. “…I think it’s a good thing for the community, I have no problem whatsoever with having 30 units for people who cannot afford any better. It’s not a big deal.”

What would happen if the deal isn’t approved? Why is it better than letting Citibank sell it?

“We know this project, we know we have deep pockets behind it with Citibank,” DiScala said. “When it comes to an auction – because that’s what would happen – you just don’t know what would happen. It’s very risky. … I certainly wouldn’t bid on it at an auction and you’re still going to be facing the fact that Milligan blocks the your parking. What do you do with the parking?… A private developer coming in, would have to offer a very low price in order to justify the issues with the Milligan blockage.”

DiScala agreed that “somebody dropped the ball” in creating the conditions that allowed Milligan to buy the land, he said. “I can’t really speak of the conditions that lead up to his purchase versus what power the city had to stop him, I don’t know.”

Critics have called the $80 million cost for 101 apartments extremely high; DiScala agreed, explaining that tax incentive deals are not for him, “that is a structure, it’s done all over the country. It’s a small segment of the market.”

“I also know Citibank is losing money, I can’t really tell you how much,” DiScala said. “I can’t really tell you for a fact, but they are losing money.  They are marking down the mortgage. They made the bad loan, they should mark it down. I have no interest in bailing out Citibank. I am only interested in what’s good for Norwalk. … I am a major stockholder there and I hope this deal actually happens, because I am very much in favor of it. …. But for the greater good of Norwalk, let’s just let’s just get it done with.”

26 comments

Mitch Adis July 2, 2019 at 6:05 am

I wouldn’t call “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a stick” an endorsement.

Paul July 2, 2019 at 6:36 am

Do you really expect a developer with projects in Norwalk would criticize city hall in this matter. Why didn’t they develop the Wall Street area? The important stake holders is the community like the Wall Street Neighborhood Association.

Lisa Brinton July 2, 2019 at 6:50 am

So these three developers are going to help pitch in with funding the school system? That’s what Danbury’s Mayor did with one of their developers.

Building projects that add more costs ( police, school, fire) than property tax revenue generated to the city coffers is absurd. This deal saddles the city for 15 years of underperforming assets, while adding students to the school system.

The grand list grew by 12% – the city budget grey by 24% since this mayor took office. Currently, I’m examining our capital debt – which once the two new schools get approved could double. Once city debt increases – just like this state, there will be less for all other services and taxes will go up.

This mayor is not growing the city. He is growing taxes and debt, while a few make money. What is the fee JHM is making on this boondoggle?

How about this for an idea – not great – but better than this. Turn the building into an over 55 affordable housing unit. At least then, you would eliminate the biggest cost liability the city has – which is the school system. There are so many other things that could be done.

The sad thing is this bad deal will get rubber stamped by the common council over the summer months, while people are away.

Sue Haynie July 2, 2019 at 7:19 am

So disappointed that Norwalk’s Wall Street has been left, yet again, so vulnerable by Norwalk’s leadership.

With that said, I don’t believe it was in the developers’ self-interest to go public with their professional opinions, and they make excellent points. Wall Street is frozen in time until POKO gets resolved. This appears to be, unfortunately, the best, the only, deal out there for Norwalk unless years of uncertainty, blight, lost property taxes/values, in downtown Wall Street sounds more appealing. It doesn’t appeal to me.

Agree, Norwalk needs to ensure that JHM does not cut corners and cheapen the exterior of the building.

Norwalk should also make JHM go back to the drawing board on their parking garage design, the garage should add architecturally and aesthetically to the back area. The current design looks like a car prison and should not be allowed.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 7:20 am

McClutchy’s developer fee listed on pg 44 financial’s is $5.1 million!!

The city of Norwalk contribution is listed as $4.4 million. Plus the donated parking lot of course.

If the city leadership were smart or competent they would enforce their rights (our rights) against Citibank.

The city should be collecting $500 / day or $182,500 in fines from Citibank until they clean up the blight, fix the zoning violations and restore Isaacs St to pre-construction conditions.

Laoise added a million per year in salaries for “chiefs” that are too new or probably too scared do anything significant.

No doubt they enjoy their big salaries.

The bailout deal that Harry has worked out with Citibank/McClutchy is terrible for Norwalk. It gives away the store.

We can do better!

But we need better negotiators in place.

Non Partisan July 2, 2019 at 8:38 am

Is this a good deal in comparison to doing nothing- yes

Is more housing subsidized by single family home owners good for Norwalk – NO – we can’t afford it.

I don’t see any analysis on that those numbers would be.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 9:05 am

Where is our chief of economic development?

Can we get her analysis and opinion?

She is in charge of planning, zoning and economic development.

What is the economic benefit to the city of Norwalk for this deal?

A cost / benefit would be even better?

Where is the need?

What is the cost?

Is this bailout a good use of taxpayer funds.

What other options were considered?
What were there economic benefit?
Cost?

Is the “chief” of economic development allowed to have independent thought or opinion?

Did our insecure Mayor ask for an economic analysis of this project?

How about sharing the economic calculations that are being analyzed with the people.

The only argument I have heard is something is better than nothing.

That is not necessarily true and Wall street has a whole lot of something happening. None of it funded on the backs of hardworking taxpayers.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 9:14 am

Everyone needs to realize Citibank and McClutchy’s true colors.

They don’t invest money or take risk the government paving the way in gold.

Citibank had negotiated the absolute right to buy all of the properties that I bought. That sat on it for 2 years while Ken Olson’s brother was crushed by fees and interest.

Citibank also had a First Right of Refusal for any offer made. They could have matched my offer for $5.1 million and bought the properties a year ago.

THEY DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE THE RISK!

Citibank could have sued me. They didn’t! Instead they let the City and Agency waste $700k in taxpayer money in a frivolous lawsuit.

Now they have snookered Harry and his Chief’s into a terrible bailout.

Citibank hasn’t even spent the few bucks to clean up the Tyvek site and turn up street.

This bailout deal would take 2 years of red tape bureaucracy before construction started in the best case scenario.

This scenario has 4 current lawsuits and more coming.

Say NO!!

This is a bad deal for Norwalk.

AL July 2, 2019 at 10:12 am

“If you can activate the retail on the first floor, that’s good.”

Mighty big IF.
This group can be trusted as far as you can spit.

Bobby Lamb July 2, 2019 at 10:46 am

Folks – please take notice. Even Sue Haynie had to admit this project should move forward. It makes sense. Wall Street does not need years more of this project just sitting there. Jason is annoyed because his little plot to hold Citibank hostage while he jacked up the price for the parking lot failed. They found another spot. Lisa is upset because, well, because she’s Lisa? I’ve yet to hear her say one positive thing about anything. Can you imagine her as the face and voice of Norwalk? This city is the worst! no more kids!!! More grandlist growth but no more building! More revenue but less taxes! Spend all our savings – who needs a rainy day fund! Seriously? Let’s just get this project done so Wall Street can move forward.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 10:50 am

Where is Nate Carr?

Nate Carr was supposed to be a super star from White Plains. I am sure he a smart guy.

Can we ever get a smart and brave person to work for the city? Are Harry and Mario that vindictive that we get no opinion from the smart people we hire. Even the expensive new Chiefs. What good are the Chiefs if they are scared of there own shadow, and they are never truly asked for their opinion.

Hey Nate Carr-How about enforcing your demands against Citibank to restore Isaacs St to pre-construction condition.

Did you at least sign the petition-http://chng.it/nRQ7YdfTHy?

Al Bore July 2, 2019 at 11:49 am

NO MORE APARTMENT BUILDINGS IN NORWALK PERIOD. You can’t move around here anymore with the traffic. This will however get the council behind closed doors rubber stamp of approval probably by the end of today. All these out of town builders that contribute to Harry’s campaign build here because it is easy, requires little thought, and you can build cheap garbage subsidized by the home owning taxpayers of Norwalk. We get stuck with another thoughtless decision by Norwalk’s inexperienced leadership. Does Harry know he is running out of home owning taxpayers to keep footing the bills. Harry when you run out it might have to come out of the city pensions, you would not want that would you?

Debora Goldstein July 2, 2019 at 12:56 pm

The Lesson We Might Have Learned, but Didn’t

The adage, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” seems to be the motto of governments everywhere. The case of the POKO development and the Land Disposition Agreement that has been in a Schrödinger state of possible-impossible from the date the ink was dry on the signatures is a case-in-point. Perhaps they should live by a different one—“When you’re in a hole, it’s time to stop digging.”

Once again, a series of past mistakes has the “do something, do anything” crowd in a tizzy.

And once again, this City is busy selling a project on behalf of a developer, in their jargon, justifying a project for their benefit, instead of analyzing it on behalf of the City. Norwalk’s desperation oozes out of its pores, and developers can smell it.

I’ve been looking over the history of POKO since about 2013, when the fifth (or was it the sixth?) extension was requested. At that time, the financing for Phase I was still being assembled. According to Olson, Citibank was poised to finance the construction loan, as soon as the other elements were in place, including some Low Income Tax Credits, a grant from the State, some commitments from the City, and of course a whole lot of borrowing on the property that was being used for the entire three phase project.

The City ponied up, even renegotiating a pre-construction loan from Redevelopment, issued circa 2008, that was due. The State ponied up. The tax credits, though, were a different issue. He missed getting the first ones he applied for, and instead had to apply for different ones…as the council was dragged, kicking and screaming, through a series of extensions.

The 9% LIHTC were awarded in April 2014. People failed to notice he didn’t also get the CHAMP award he was expecting at the same time.

Another extension was granted under condition that the bank provide a commitment letter within a certain time frame. In August of 2014, Mr. Sheehan was reported to have reported “Citibank officials said, in a meeting with Rilling and Sheehan, that they don’t provide letters of commitment.”

In November 2014, Citibank, holder of the loans on much of the property in the project, began syndicating those tax credits issued in April. But, instead of being in the final stages of closing on the construction loan and credit verification, which was allegedly waiting for the tax credits, they were still negotiating a term sheet for the loan…despite having been in the wings of this project for years, leading Mr. Olson to believe he was in line to receive the loan.

The City also fails to notice that “final drawings” that were supposed to be delivered as one of the conditions back in Feb 2014 in order not to default and were promised in “three weeks” had still not been delivered in November 2014. These came through in January 2015, just days prior to the “default” deadline set by the last extension.

The City took no steps throughout the month of January 2015 to prepare the council for a default at the end of the month of January. As council was contemplating (one week after the default date) whether the default had occurred, both Mr. Sheehan and the lending officer of Citibank were “away”.

A couple of days after that, the Mayor is quoted as having met with Sheehan and Olson. He characterizes missing the deadline which was the basis for the most recent (seventh? eighth?) extension as a “stumbling block” and a “little offtrack of the timeline”, but not a reason to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. Two weeks after the confused Planning Committee meeting, RDA is quoted as saying there is no evidence of loan closure and Norwalk sends out a default letter to POKO.

In March of 2015, 45 days past the default date and well into the timeframe Mr. Olson has to “cure” the default, the bank now begins the credit verification process, provides a letter requesting an extension on behalf of Mr. Olson. The bank provides a time frame for closing by the end of April. Among the things the bank cites as delaying the beginning of the review process is a need to have been made whole on other loans relating to the project (presumably those backed by the property). The timing of bringing those loans current coincides with the release of funds from the $5mm DECD grant awarded by the state. The bank also cites the need to syndicate the tax credits (issued the previous April, and initiated the previous November), for which it is presumably earning fees. You should also note that this is the community lending arm of Citibank that is considering the construction loan.

Throughout May and June, there are triumphant announcements about work progressing, demolition and digging taking place on the property, despite the fact that the construction loan had not closed at the end of April, nor the end of May, nor the end of June. Nobody questioned whether these additional expenditures of an apparently cash-strapped developer, would actually worsen his credit position while his loan was being reviewed.

In Mid-July, ten weeks after the Citibank letter had represented the loan would close to get another extension, the Common Council, in full Stockholm Syndrome, agrees that they are “so close” that they agree to another extension to the end of July, but to show they mean business, they assess fines of $1,000/day retroactive to July 1st. Again, nobody considers the implications of these additional expenditures on a cash-strapped developer on a loan under consideration by the bank. The Council is now informed that the community lending arm is awaiting approval from Freddie Mac that they will provide the permanent financing for this project.

So, the bank that has held Mr. Olson’s fate in the palm of their hand, insisting that the loan is dependent upon City largesse, State largesse, and the resale of the plum 9% LIHTC in order to grant the loan. The same bank that holds the deed on most of the property in the project, and is supposed to be in the business of financing community development in HUD areas, now is withholding their loan approval until they can get the Federal government to assume the risk on the loan.

On the eve of the latest deadline, July 30, the City proudly announces that the construction loan has closed, and Mr. Olson commits to having the first tenant in by December 2016. Roughly three weeks later, all construction stops.

“Discussions with Citibank” take place for months, and construction is said to resume in November, but it really is about securing the existing partially built structure to prevent devaluation of the asset.

In March of 2017, it is publicly disclosed that Citibank had defaulted POKO on the loan “several months ago”, and was seeking a waiver of the 90 day notice period to take possession of the property, with a died-in-lieu transfer. Approval is required under the LDA from the other two parties (Redevelopment and City of Norwalk). It is also disclosed that Citi is starting to look for a new developer. Many of the locally known names have already said, “not it!”.

Assuming that the Citibank default letter was issued in January 2017, the turnaround to a default by POKO is equal to the time it took the bank to vet the loan in the first place–five months. The time to secure all the tax-payer money that went into this project, along with all of the loans on the property and the off-loading of the risk into a Freddie Mac backed mortgage? Seven years (taking into account the Zoning Appeal that delayed the project through about 2010).

Throughout this long process, the project was endlessly described as a driver of progress for the area, and it was endlessly dragged out over fear of having to start over, while the area businesses had to take it upon themselves to band together and revitalize the area themselves.

Throughout this process, the bank who has been able to take advantage of much of the upside of this project, who has best been in a position to understand that the finances wouldn’t work, had failed to serve the community it is supposed to be serving by dangling a loan on a project that was clearly in trouble. All of the excuses about the garage (which had been part of the project for years) and the extra steel used by POKO that ran the costs over (which should have been apparent if the bank had done a routine inspection of the project) are beside the point. Like the frog in the boiling kettle, they allowed City officials, State officials and tax-payer alike to be strung along, and then when there was no more largesse to be had, they took possession of the properties.

All of the good Mr. Olson had intended, with subsidized housing, and all of the good the City and Redevelopment had intended, with the ability to revitalize local businesses supported by a wealth of new customers, has been totally offset with lost opportunities and an extended period in which the project DEPRESSED the area. All of the success in the area can be attributed to new SMALL businesses, supported by customers from ELSEWHERE in Norwalk, and the efforts of the locals to do “placemaking” on their own.

So, here we are, and the cycle is set to repeat itself. The same “community lending” bank is reported to have “voluntarily returned the 9% LIHTC so that they could be redeployed to another project” prior to the date they would have expired anyway, and well after they had marketed them for equity in the project, the sources said Wednesday. This bank will buy out the shortfall in the parking requirement and put another tranch of construction lending in place, despite asserting a $14million loss in the project to date (apparently, securing the loans with property, Freddie Mac guarantees is not nearly enough to protect you from a loan that goes sour less than a year after you approve it with a five-month vetting process).

Once again, descriptions of the new project, as conceived by a developer are being peddled as the salvation for the area. Once again, the fearmongering begins: doing something is better than doing nothing. It is being used to peddle a project that is configured for profitability for the bank and the developer, only with significant subsidies from government. It’s this or nothing. Final offer, take it or leave it, Norwalk. We can smell your desperation over here.

Questions have been raised about the impacts to the schools, the infrastructure, and about the lack of impacts to the tax rolls. Questions the City does not seem to be inclined to answer. I fear for the businesses in the area, who’ve made so many strides, despite the gaping hole in the fabric of their downtown.

As importantly, we’re trotting out a number of developers who say this project is viable, presumably “experts” in this area. Yet, we are ignoring other voices, also presumable “experts” who have contributed to the overall health of the area, while objecting to continuing down this path.

Regardless of who the developer is, are you comfortable with risking the future of this project and the area with the same financing partner that has failed to safeguard the community’s interests while taking its money and offloading its risk onto the taxpayers for the last six years?

Mitch Adis July 2, 2019 at 1:02 pm

This is a POKO-in-the-eye to Norwalk Tax Payers

My taxes went up 28.6% this year. How about you?

Isabelle Hargrove July 2, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Why do Norwalk taxpayers have to bail out Citibank? This deal will cost taxpayers $ for the next 15 years with dismal taxes and large school and infrastructure costs.

Why should we care that Citibank will do poorly in selling the project when we don’t care about straddling Norwalkers with a negative ROI deal? Is it too much to ask that City Hall care more about taxpayers than a global banking giant? A bad sale for Citibank (they will survive!), will be a great deal for a new developer to create the right project.

And of course the builder will cut corners, this project is incredibility expensive. Every corner will have to be cut to make any financial sense.

Without Norwalk, Citibank is stuck with a big financial albatross, hemorrhaging $. Shouldn’t that put us in the driver seat?

Let’s have courage, vision, and put taxpayers first.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Deb Goldstein,

Thank you for your spot on description and timeline.

I hope you and others will show up tonight to tell the planning committee how you feel about this abuse by Citibank.

Patrick Cooper July 2, 2019 at 3:28 pm

@Deb Goldstein – bravo and accolades. That is a tremendous sequential, forensic level outline – of how we got to “now”.

So this is who the RDA invites into our midst – Citibank & a developer who specializes in government subsidized (meaning taxpayer funded) development. The common denominator? They take no risk – make boatloads of profit, and will cut and run (sell to a reit) the first chance they get. Bet on it. The losers? The Wall Street neighborhood, and Norwalk taxpayers – long after we’ve had to retire, elsewhere. Thanks RDA – for once again failing the city on a grand scale.

If only the peek-a-boo mayor would deliver such a treatise. Remember his big promised “explanatory statement” ??? Like everything else (I’m going to fix planning & zoning) – it is now just another promise denied.

I simply do not understand how the voters of this city can accept this treatment. And tonight – the rubber stamp common council will once again force concerned citizens and real stakeholders to spew out their concerns in 90 seconds. AND – every single person who follow’s this kangaroo court knows – Harry already has them all in his pocket before the first voice is heard. The vote is already in – anyone care to wager it’s 14-1?

Common Council – feel shame.

Jason Milligan July 2, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Did anyone notice the small footnote in the big bailout site plan?

They are proposing to change the name of Isaacs St to Rilling Road to Nowhere.

Who designs a 1 way dead end?

Great planning!

It will be typical if Kyde’s rubber stamp planning committee passes the 1 way dead end.

Tragedy or comedy?

Michael McGuire July 2, 2019 at 6:26 pm

Deb Goldstein,

Great comments, I never thought of looking at it from that prospective. Well done.

Mayor Rilling and all CC members – Deb’s comments are worth the read. In fact you should not vote until you read her comments.

Tysen Canevari July 2, 2019 at 10:13 pm

ohhh the days of Howlands and Kiddytown. Greens and 5 and dime. Does anyone remember the sweet old gal that worked the luncheonette at 5 and dime? How bout the magic carpet ride up to Sears? They were the first one to sell the game Pong from Atari! Bargainworld around the corner and pathmark mall. Stop in the mall to get a slice of pizza at LaVilla. Stop into Royals to get sneakers from Brian Wilson. Now we have to listen to Jason Milligan and his crusade to rent out a darn parking lot. Sorry Mr Milligan but you do get annoying after awhile. Someone should give you a binky. The five developers have been succesful and thats why the mayor consults them. Mike Discala is about as succesful as you can get. Stop the whining and lets move forward people. Catch the wheels bus and get a transfer at the mall out of town Milligan.

Enough July 3, 2019 at 5:52 am

Wow Deb did her homework! However, like many things these days it is not about what the people want anymore in politics. It is what the politicians want, so yet again we will get big ugly box apartments.

Debora Goldstein July 3, 2019 at 9:36 am

Thank you for the kind words. Just a note for those paying attention, JHM’s principals John and Todd (father and son) came and presented last night to the Planning COMMITTEE (not the full Council).

FTR, they have indicated that they do not sell their projects. The project’s faults are enough basis for objection, without attributing motives or speculation.

Nancy will surely report on this, but the council asked for an estimate of the property taxes based upon the proforma rent calculations, and the math is about $2k per year per unit (not adjusted for sq ft, # of bedrooms). Its not clear whether the gross figure was based on residential rates alone or included the retail income and revenue for parking. Yes, folks, parking will be paid.

You are encouraged to look over JHM’s last best offer and come out to a public hearing on July 18th.

Dagny July 3, 2019 at 8:58 pm

@tysen. Yes i remember, the 5 and dime, Kittytown and wasn’t It Gimbals before Howlands? What a mess it is now thanks to our inept city government/RDA —for the disaster Tyvek Temple!! Norwalk needs to move forward. Can you really say that this plan is moving forward? I challenge you to do your homework. Dig around the spin doctors hoopla. I believe you will find that Milligan is not the villain. He has been bringing many facts to light! Many that the city would prefer to have been kept hidden in the closet! secret! To keep us all ignorantly dependent on their “superior knowledge” and vulnerable to their “this is the best we can do” chicken little narrative, Milligan is not a johnny come lately, splash in the pan, he is a major stakeholder who believes in Norwalk. He is a “get ‘er done”, action guy, who is relentless in this pursuit. He has shown us he will not cave to the city’s bully tactics! From all I read it is hard for me to fathom it, I certainly would not endure it, especially with comments like yours. But Face it! He won’t go away. I wish the city would just play nice, listen to the real stakeholders of Wall Street Neighborhood Association who really care, have sweat equity in the area, and who have better ideas, so the city of Norwalk could really move forward.

Debora Goldstein July 4, 2019 at 10:33 am

At the Planning Committee meeting the other night, JHM reported that they had removed some of the retail from the project “to make it more likely that the remaining storefronts get occupied” and activate the street. There will be a stretch of blank wall, gussied up with architectural flourishes, along that stretch instead. This, as the TOD Oversight Committee is being lectured that activating an urban street means avoiding breaks in the frontage with blank walls or uses that interrupt the connectivity.

Could it be that JHM recognizes that having 900,000 sq ft of retail just up the street in the new mall will make it too difficult for the area to activate the streets with retail?

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