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SoNo Collection plaza to feature interactive lights; three more tenants onboard

A Tuesday view of The SoNo Collection, from Oyster Shell Park.

A Jen Lewin art installation, as shown in an application submitted by Brookfield Properties to the Norwalk Zoning Commission.

NORWALK, Conn. – The plan to put passive recreation in front of The SoNo Collection in the form of a public fountain has been replaced by a plan for an interactive LED light artwork, flush with the sidewalk, so that people can walk on it, jump on it and skip over it.

Inside, three more tenants have signed up to peddle their wares inside the mall expected to open in October: Clarks, Evereve and Tempur-pedic.

 

‘Constant and shifting with the season’

Jen Lewin, reportedly an internationally renowned new media and interactive sculptor based in New York, designed the LED plaza artwork, Paul Madden of Brookfield Properties told the Norwalk Zoning Commission last week.

“What we’re doing is taking the bones of the approved design, and changing what it was approved as about a 12-foot diameter bubbler fountain – a very kind of modest structure – with 16-foot diameter rosette comprised of 32 individual pieces of glass and a trapezoid shape … that has internal LED that interact with people that walk by and on top of the sculpture,” Madden said.

This is inspired by the City’s demand that public realm space be included in the design for the mall, on the former 95/7 site at the intersection of Interstate 95 with West Avenue. Originally, there was talk of a splash pad or some other type of interactive fountain, Attorney William Hennessey explained to the Commission on Wednesday. But the State Public Health Code considers that a public pool and would require changing rooms, a restroom and area inside, hardly practical for a mall.

The new plan of a Lewin installation for the Southwest corner, where North Water Street meets West Avenue, is “frankly, better,” because it can be used year-round, by more people, he said.

“It can be constant and kind of shift with the season,” Madden said.

Another Lewin sculpture is planned for the rooftop garden entrance, creating a synergy between the lower plaza and the upper plaza, Madden said. That one will hang above and have the same principle of interactive movement, and “a both installations are great accents.”

Madden showed a video showcasing a Lewin installation at the 2017 Burning Man festival to convey the idea of dynamic interaction. The video is shown below; Madden said the “center round area is really about the scale that we’re looking at” for Norwalk.

He was asked if it could be bigger.

“There is always the possibility to go back if it is successful and to augment that piece. Where we sit seven weeks from our opening, we don’t have the timeline to execute any changes to the configuration,” he said, on Aug. 21.

The idea was created eight months ago when the development team began to merge with the operations team, he said.

Zoning Commission Vice Chairman Lou Schulman asked about potential vandalism.

The SoNo Collection will have 24-hour security onsite and the plaza will be well lit, but admittedly vandalism is hard to stop, Madden said, explaining that the glazing technology will be similar to what’s used on the Apple cube in New York City. “It’s akin to that type of technology and that glass is just about bulletproof.”

Yes, the sculpture can be repaired if it’s vandalized, he said.

The glass will also be slip resistant and will have built in drainage so there won’t be standing water on it, he said, explaining that the operations crew will deal with snow and ice. Photovoltaics will provide energy, making it self-sustaining. The lights will be programmed to go off an hour after the mall closes.

The vote to approve the change was unanimous.

 

Clarks, Evereve and Tempur-pedic

Three more retailers have submitted Zoning applications for tenant fit-ups in the mall, since the last time NancyOnNorwalk checked on Aug. 5:

  • Clarks, ‘Shoemakers since 1885’
  • Evereve, ‘a contemporary fashion and styling company for women’
  • Tempur-pedic, ‘It’s like no other mattress’

 

The updated list of stores known to be renting space in The SoNo Collection:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Abercrombie Kids
  • Altar’d State
  • Apple
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Barry’s Bootcamp
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • CAMP
  • Casper Mattress
  • Chico’s
  • Clarks
  • EQ3
  • Evereve
  • H&M
  • Hollister
  • iFix
  • J. Jill
  • Journeys
  • Kay Jeweler’s
  • Lush
  • L’Occitane
  • Made in China
  • Nordstrom
  • Pandora
  • Pinstripes
  • Pretzelmaker
  • Sephora
  • Soma
  • Talbots
  • Tempur-pedic
  • Tutti Nails
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • White House Black Market
  • Yong Kang Street
  • Yard House
  • ZARA USA Inc

 

The applications on file with P&Z add up to 192,573 square feet. Adding that to the 302,000 square feet assigned to anchor stores Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, then 68.9% of the total 717,000 square feet is accounted for as retail. If you subtract 180,000 square feet as concourse/public realm space from the total 717,000 square feet, then 92% of the mall is rented out, as represented in applications to P&Z.

 

What were those stores again?

Clarks, on its website, says it began making shoes in 1885.

“Our story began almost 200 years ago when Cyrus and James Clark made a slipper from sheepskin off-cuts,” Clarks states on its website. “At the time it was ground-breaking; a combination of invention and craftsmanship that’s remained at the heart of what we do. And whilst now, as always, every pair of our shoes begins with a last carved by hand from a single block of hornbeam, advanced construction techniques, technologies and contemporary materials help us deliver perfection tailor-made for the modern world.”

There’s a Clarks in Stamford and in Danbury. The Norwalk store is not yet advertised on the Clarks website.

Evereve has 86 stores, according to its website.

“We love fashion, but that isn’t the full story at EVEREVE. When we decided to make our crazy dream real and start a clothing company, we had a different purpose—to use our love for fashion as a way to inspire joy,” founders Megan and Mike Tamte state on the website. “This journey began when Megan went shopping as a new mom and ended up in the dressing room feeling overwhelmed and all alone. That moment inspired her to reimagine the retail experience—how it could be everything that day wasn’t—and eventually became the foundation for EVEREVE when we opened in 2004.”

The Norwalk store is advertised on the website. The nearest store will also be in a new mall: The American Dream, also expected to open in October and formerly known as Xanadu.

Tempur-pedic advertises “A Mattress Like No Other,” and will compete with Casper in the mall. You can already buy Tempur-pedica mattresses in Norwalk, at P.C. Richard & Son and at Raymour & Flanigan Furniture. The website calls its “coming soon” mall spot a flagship location.

“TEMPUR material isn’t like ordinary memory foam,” the company states. “Tempur-pedic mattresses are made with pressure-relieving material originally developed by NASA to absorb the G-Force of astronauts traveling into space, then perfected by us for sleep.”

3 comments

AL August 28, 2019 at 9:02 am

I just listened to a story about the Burlington Center Mall in NJ. 300,000 s/f of empty mall space.
While cheap money is behind SoNo, enjoy it while you can. It will be relatively short lived. The list of retailers indicates the future.
The developers/Norwalk’s hubris is beyond belief.
The space might make a great casino but that industry is dying as quickly as retail. Perhaps one day it will be a distribution center of some sort.

Scott Vetare August 28, 2019 at 2:23 pm

I’d like to see some normal men’s fashion stores. Like jeans and shirts to fit us larger type bodies…

Amanda August 29, 2019 at 8:17 am

With the exception of the anchors, the store list thus far is wildly uninteresting. Is there a book store coming in??

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