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Earth being moved at ‘BJ’s site;’ Norwalk P&Z says owner wants to make it ‘presentable’

A car on Tuesday passes 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)

Heavy machinery has been toiling on the “BJ’s site” at 272-280 Ave., and City officials said Tuesday they don’t know why.

On Wednesday, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Alexis Cherichetti said, “Per the contractor, they are prepping the site to make it more presentable.  It appears they seek to remove concrete and fill piles, cut down the existing weeds and trees, demolish the rear concrete wall, and grading of the site.”

In 2017, the Zoning Commission approved controversial plans for The Village, a proposed 100,000 square foot retail development at 272-280 Main Ave. It’s not officially a proposed BJ’s Wholesale Club site but many people suspect it is because that’s what it was originally pitched as. Developer Main Norwalk LLC hasn’t listed a tenant for the development’s big box space.

The property has been vacant for years. Formerly the home of ELINCO (Electric Indicator Co.), it’s a Superfund site and was put on the national priority list in 1984. It was declared ready for reuse in September 2020.

Heavy machinery operates Tuesday on the long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)

Just over a year ago, the Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to grant The Village its fourth one-year extension.

NancyOnNorwalk was alerted to the activity on the site Friday. A Friday afternoon email to City officials went unanswered, until a second email was sent Tuesday afternoon.

“It appears no zoning permits were pulled. I’m not sure the status of the application,” Norwalk Senior Planner Michelle Andrzejewski said, promising to look into it.

Chapman Hyperlocal Media Board member Claire Schoen visited the site Tuesday afternoon to get photographs. She reported two zoning staff members were on the scene, saying they’d come because the City had received multiple emails about the activity, which the City was uninformed about.

“No Zoning permit would be required for the limited site work occurring currently.  The property representatives had previously discussed with Director Kleppin to confirm,” Cherichetti said Wednesday.

The property is owned by Main Norwalk, LLC; New York City Attorney Albert Feinstein is its managing member, according to records available online.

Cherichetti said Wednesday, “No Zoning Permit has been pulled for the Village or for any other work at the site.  I also confirm there currently is no pending P&Z approval application for any other proposed development work.”

Updated, 2:28 p.m.: More information, headline adjusted.

Heavy machinery operates Tuesday on the long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)
Heavy machinery operates Tuesday on the long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)
The long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)
Heavy machinery operates Tuesday on the long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)
The long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)
The long-dormant property at 272-280 Main Ave., where a BJ’s Wholesale Club was proposed in 2013. A plan for a mixed use development with an unspecified retailer was approved in 2017. (Claire Schoen)

Comments

2 responses to “Earth being moved at ‘BJ’s site;’ Norwalk P&Z says owner wants to make it ‘presentable’”

  1. Kelly Wheeler

    I know there is nothing currently in the works at this location but it would be nice to see something like an ALDI’s or maybe even a restaurant chain like chilis or Texas Road House or maybe both a grocery and a restaurant at this location to bring some “light” traffic to the area and provide jobs and something new too.

  2. Leigh Grant

    This is a Superfund site for a reason. What leaked out of the drums at Elinco is in the bedrock. There are a number of extraction wells, piping and other equipment associated with the soil and
    groundwater cleanup that may create physical restrictions in some portions of the property. This may need to be considered in the future use of the property. No one is digging up the bedrock. The groundwater was highly contaminated and even resulted in closing one of the wells at the Kellogg-Deering wellsite. I would hope that the declaration of reuse in 2020 came from the appropriate authority, like the EPA, and not a local authority. Personally I would not wish to buy produce, eat food, or live on this site. Furthermore, should there be a big box store, like BJs, traffic would be a serious problem. Full disclosure, I was involved in fighting this application by BJs in the past.

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