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GGP wants to build hotel, NCC space into its SoNo mall

State Rep. Larry Cafero, an attorney representing General Growth Properties (GGP), explains the "mixed use" components of the latest concept for a mall on the 95/7 site
State Rep. Larry Cafero, an attorney representing General Growth Properties (GGP), explains the “mixed use” components of the latest concept for a mall on the 95/7 site as he speaks to a combined meeting of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the Common Council Planning Committee Wednesday in City Hall.

Updated 1:30 a.m., complete story.

NORWALK, Conn. – The developers of a hoped for-mall in SoNo said Wednesday that they have listened to the public in their one year’s worth of community outreach and have come up with a plan they think will meet the requirements of the contract the company has with Norwalk for the land usage.

General Growth Properties’ current concept for a mall at the long-vacant 95/7 site includes a small boutique hotel, community space and classrooms for use as a Norwalk Community College satellite site, state Rep. Larry Cafero said at a joint meeting of the Planning Committee and Redevelopment Agency. This news was part of a pitch to change the current specifications of the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) between Norwalk and GGP – the old ones will not work in the current marketplace, GGP reps said, as they urged that speed is of the essence for a “modification” of the existing agreement in order to “not miss the market” as has been done in the past at the site.  

Committee Chairman Doug Hempstead and Redevelopment Agency Chairman Felix Serrano said that “modification” is not the right word to use for the changes proposed for the LDA. It would be a whole new agreement, they said. While GGP reps confidently pronounced that beginning construction in just over a year is doable, Hempstead and Serrano expressed skepticism.

Hempstead said there would be “a lot, a lot of ground work.”

“This is a whale you just put in the room. You don’t eat the whale one bite at a time,” Hempstead said. “There’s going to be differences of opinion … You even admitted it was substantially different plan.”

Attorney William Hennessey, representing GGP, agreed that the approval would be a sometimes complicated process. Needs include a new concept master site plan and approval from the Zoning Commission, in addition to the changes in the LDA approved by the two governmental bodies present Wednesday.

Norwalk citizens pack a City Hall meeting room to hear General Growth Properties (GGP)
Norwalk citizens pack a City Hall meeting room to hear General Growth Properties (GGP) unveil their response to a year’s worth of conversations with the community.

“The reason this site is not developed right now with office and a hotel is because they kept missing the market. Every time something was approved, missed the market. We need to make sure… this doesn’t miss the market,” Hennessey said.

The concept includes 740,000 square feet of retail space and a 150-room hotel with about 120,000 to 180,000 square feet.  Two anchor stores would take about 40-50 percent of the overall structure and there would be 75 smaller stores. “Indoor public space” is 180,000 square feet; the outdoor plaza would be about 10,000 square feet, with sheltered performing arts space. The educational space would be 5,000 square feet.

Cafero described “very exciting conversations with Norwalk Community College to have maybe classrooms, community space where education is going on, as yet another use on this property.” Students would take advantage of the site itself in a “synergy with what’s going on in the retail center;” NCC’s food service program could be involved and there could be an architectural school and marketing classes, he said.

Cafero unveiled a new concept rendering, showing a large space going over North Water Street. Hempstead asked if that meant the new idea is to make the road a tunnel. Doug Adams of GGP said no. The rendering is compressed multilevel plan, he said.

Hempstead he’d want to see comparisons to existing area malls so everyone can get a feel for the size. GGP will have to pay for third party independent input, he said.

Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) said the Planning Committee needs to decide if it agrees on page one of the LDA.

“Do we agree in the shift of land use, moving to retail and hotel?” he asked. “If we can’t agree on that we are really just spinning our wheels and wasting our time.”

Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce President Ed Musante clapped.

Kimmel said this is the third or fourth discussion the committee has had on the LDA and he still doesn’t know if there is a consensus.

“If I were against it I would not be saying what I am saying now, if I was against it,” Kimmel said. “I would be talking about a whole different set of complexities that we would have to address.”

It’s possible to throw out roadblocks but “as a city we can move very quickly… we can probably expedite the permits,” Kimmel said.

“You are beginning to restore my faith in democracy,” Hennessy said.

“Everyone is a little bit right here,” Cafero said, calling the proposal “an incredibly complex development.” There are two ways to make sure it doesn’t come to fruition, he said: vote no, or “drag the process out so that markets are missed.”

GGP will “work day and night and provide any information, attend any meeting at any time, any place to make sure this does get done as soon as possible,” he said.

“If there’s a will there’s a way and we are hopeful,” Cafero said. “This is a good first sign that there is a will.”

Mayor Harry Rilling attended the meeting and saw most of the presentation. Asked if he would consider the proposal the highest and best use for the property, Rilling said, “I think it’s a better use than leaving an empty hole in the ground. I think that we really have to determine what’s good for Norwalk. I think that they’ve done a remarkable job of listening to people and putting together what they believe is a unique kind of mixed use. It’s not their traditional mixed use of residential, retail, that kind of thing, but they’re including a hotel, which is one thing people asked for. They’re including a performing arts center. They’re including a partnership with Norwalk Community College. So it’s a different kind of project.

“Again,” he continued, “it’s something that we have to vet out and take a look at. I agree with Councilman Kimmel. First thing you need to do is page one – are we open to the idea? Are we willing to change the Land Disposition Agreement? If so, then we move forward and we try to move forward quickly. But I want to commend them, I think they’ve done a good job of trying to accommodate all the things that they have heard from the community.”

A "compressed multilevel plan" shows the current thinking behind a proposed mall for the 95/7 site in SoNo
A “compressed multilevel plan” shows the current thinking behind a proposed mall for the 95/7 site in SoNo, the intersection of West Avenue and Interstate 95.

 

 

Original story: 

NORWALK, Conn. – The developers of a hoped for-mall in SoNo say they have listened to the public in one year’s worth of outreach gathering and have come up with a plan they think will meet the requirements of the contract the company has with Norwalk for the land usage.

The concept for a mall on the 95/7 site now includes a boutique hotel and classrooms for use of Norwalk Community College, as well as community spaces, state Rep. Larry Cafero said Wednesday at a joint meeting of the Planning Committee and Redevelopment Agency.

Cafero is just one of the representatives of General Growth Properties (GGP) who made a presentation to the governmental bodies in a packed City Hall meeting room.

The grand opening would be in mid-2018, a representative said. That timeline would make it unlikely to miss the market with the site, as has been done in the past.

But Committee Chairman Doug Hempstead and RDA Chairman Felix Serrano said they thought a one year timeframe to modify the Land Disposition Agreement is “aggressive,” expressing skepticism that it could be done. GGP representatives promised to work day and night to make it possible.

 

Comments

44 responses to “GGP wants to build hotel, NCC space into its SoNo mall”

  1. WOW just WOW

    This without question is the dumbest thing I have yet to see come out of Norwalk.. I give this one year and it will be an abandon building.

  2. Maritime Yards Condo Owner

    I see it as a good sign of compromise. Interested to hear anchor tenants. Feeling better about the project.

  3. WOW just WOW

    I think I misunderstood this.. I thought this was in place of the mall.. I take it this is going to be part of the mall.. If that is the case I agree with this plan.

    1. @WOW, yes, you are correct – the hotel and college space would be part of the same structure as the mall. The story has been rewritten to make that clear. My apologies.

  4. Mr. Bucks Goldman

    Well, it does look like the new owners understand local politics and compromise. They get a kudo or two for listening and adapting.

    That said, “missing the market”? What market did we miss? “Missed the market” sounds like we missed the holiday tree and firework stands and new car lot opportunities for those new hydrogen cars.

    Does that mean what is being proposed will be anachronous, ah, obsolete when the ribbons are cut?
    What is the projected lifespan of the businesses and building anyway? They know, but will they share that?

    “Missed the market”, for us that’s a good thing than,isn’t it, other wise we would have a tall empty office building there now with low if any revenue for the city, huh?

    Maybe its good to take things slow, chew thoroughly and digest everything, take the time to really hit the high mark with taste, class and vision.

    And what is a boutique hotel 18 stories tall with (limited service)anway? Is that to mean it will be a boutique hotel,(without room service)? Isn’t this project supposed to be geared toward the higher income consumers? And no room service?

    On the upside, being 18 stories we can now rent a room with a view without having surgery at Norwalk Hospital and being charged 5,000 a day. Wait, what does an upscale boutique hotel with a door man but no bell hop go for anyway?

    Will the target room rates be comparable to the boutique hotel, no room service [market]? And what is the specific targeted market anyway? Business travelers? Newlyweds? Europeans on vacation?

    Speaking of rates, doesn’t the state gets most of the tax on a room? Has anyone done the math on what the targeted revenue for the city will be from the hotel and retail establishment? A realistic, (not based on unrealistic, close the deal, nudged into the clouds numbers) report of anticipated revenue?

    On face value, the NCC space is a bribe. But a decent and acceptable lawful bribe to the community, so they get another kudo for figuring that one out. wonder why they snubbed Norwalk Hospital Does the 5,000 sq feet for NCC include chairs for say, 700? A podium, ya know, for classes and presentations and community meetings etc.

    Couple items didn’t see mentioned, were police substation office’s, Norwalk and State, even with private security, there will be a need for a substation office with a bathroom. Why State police? Because NCC is patrolled by the State police.
    It may be another bribe but its one we can live with. Wink wink.

    Another suggestion is a train stop. If there ever was an opportunity, now is it and we don’t want to miss that market now do we? Wouldn’t cost that much, as an addition to the project and there surely are state and federal grants.

    And speaking of transportation integration wouldn’t cost nearly nothing to incorporate a bus depot and would cut down on parking for employees that have ready access to the train and bus. Lining buses up on West ave is not what we envision as progressive transportation planning. And toss this one in for one of our local stars, where is the BIKE racks at?

    As far as the comment made by a council person, something to the effect that “”Norwalk can fast track anything with the correct incentives, that is the wrong message to send and myopic, not to mention the doors it opens to the wrong people.

    But alas, this is Norwalk and its no secret our local government lacks foresight, vision, leadership and business acumen. Many spend majority of their time bickering over personalities and egos squabbling like children that haven’t eaten lunch yet, at 3 pm and stayed up till midnight watching a spiderman.

    Baring the imagined obstacles of changing the LDA by some, it is prudent to put in print everyone’s expectations, realistic expectations to revenue, a timeline, including city reimbursement costs for missed timelines and/or mistakes by the contractor and or subs.

    And what about the reselling of the property? Developers do that ya know. Will the city have any guarantees/leverage on the next owners/managers that they will take care of the property and infrastructure?

    This is a business deal people and an opportune one at that, to make up for past errs even. So don’t screw this up, get what you want and need up front and in writing and make the best deal for the developers and the city.

    An 18 story hotel is not out of the realm of considerations, however the market is already saturated, like that other market we missed, offices, unless of course this is more on the scale of the old Plaza Hotel in NY? Than maybe the new millionaires will patronize the hotel after getting bombed at the bars. Is that what boutique, with limited services means, upscale with a doorman in a big hat and white gloves but bring your own snacks and bottle? No extra towels after 5pm? No breakfast bar? Food for thought peeps…

    Make your best deal and don’t give away the store by showing your hand, ya know?

  5. Seth

    @Maritime – What is it’s impact on surrounding property values? Including yours?

  6. John Hamlin

    What do our city leaders think? Have the mayor and any council members taken a position on the mall? Or are they waiting to gauge public opinion so they can follow it like lemmings?

  7. Maritime (33 North Water) Condo Owner

    I feel much, much better about this now. I’m excited to hear about the performing arts/cultural space as well as the hotel. Great ideas. I still hold out hope that we could get a gourmet grocery store!

  8. Piberman

    The failure of the developers to present a detailed written plan of their proposal for widespread public review suggests they are focusing on “convincing” the City’s political leaders to obtain approval. But there is hope. Council President Hempstead is fully capable by virtue of his business experience and long standing involvement with civic affairs of leading an “informed discussion” on behalf of the community. Let’s hope he perseveres and isn’t bamboozled by the developers and well known pitchman. If there ever was a chance for the Common Council to fully and capably represent Norwalk “this is their time”. So man the oars !

  9. Al Raymond

    I would like to see the changes they have made to the outside of the building. There was a lot of people saying that the building design did not fit there was to much bling . I would like to see something more shuttle give it a home town feel not so in your face.

  10. Amanda

    I find this…confusing. Does GGP read this site?

  11. Haley

    Re: ” The developers of a hoped for-mall in SoNo …”
    A little editorial bias here, Nancy?
    Some of us are hoping the mall-hotel-death-knell-for-downtown-Norwalk goes away.

  12. Nancy

    As a business owner in Downtown Norwalk, I disagree with the Haley “mall-hotel-death-knell-for-downtown-Norwalk” comment. This new development will let the region know we are at last open for business. The GGP development will act as an anchor for SONO and Downtown, and will help us attract new businesses into the areas. If you disagree with me, please take a drive through Stamford which has intelligently connected their Southern end, Downtown, and High Ridge corridors in such a manner that they are now attracting retailers from New York and other regions. The GGP representatives have listened to the comments of the Norwalk residents and have come up with a favorable plan.

    The GGP development is certainly a better story than a tattoo parlor and a derelict building. The more businesses that Norwalk attracts to fill their empty buildings the easier the tax burden will be on the homeowners.

    Finally, the “people don’t shop anymore comments” are not supported by facts. Just drive or walk through Orange, Fairfield, Westport, Darien, Greenwich and EVEN the Stamford Mall. The crowds, the lack of parking and the favorable rental rates reflect healthy and robust demand for shopping.

  13. Sara Sikes

    This sounds like an exciting development in this project. As long as the City doesn’t decide to subsidize it I am all for it.

  14. Oldtimer

    If the council approves, we need to see how quickly construction can begin. Zoning changes will be necessary, I think. Let’s hope this doesn’t get delayed by petty disagreements.

  15. Carol

    thrilled with the new changes,they put a lot of thought into it.BUT no city subsidies please

  16. Gordon Tully

    It looks as though there is a consensus that the mall will be built. I noted in The Hour that they claim the market for housing is saturated. Tell that to Stamford, who can’t build housing near the railroad fast enough to satisfy the demand of young people moving away from NYC to cut their rent.

    The city and NRA need to have strong input to the design. As shown, they are paying almost no attention to the peculiar and difficult aspects of the site.

    I notice on their completely unbuildable schematic plan shown above that they are pretending the Water Street extension doesn’t exist, with the project bridging the road and an impossible street paralleling the railroad which at the point of intersection with Water Street is about 20 feet lower than the railroad.

    Also the excellent views of the river looking over the railroad are usurped by an enormous parking garage. There is absolutely no reason they couldn’t add an apartment building facing the railroad – they are inventing excuses because they “don’t do” residential. If so, we should insist that they get someone else to do the residential for them.

    In addition, the design needs to respect the reserved character of SoNo design which Bruce Beinfield has so carefully nurtured. It should focus on Norwalk, not the highway. We need to disabuse them of the idea that the only way to make the mall profitable is to create a glitzy billboard of glass and colored lights to attract attention from the highway. Such things grow old very fast and deny the character of Norwalk and SoNo.

    Also forget about enlivening the street and forging a connection with Waypointe and Wall Street with an interior access mall. The northwest corner of the site will be empty of people at the sidewalk level. The project is firmly attached to SoNo and no other part of the city. Let’s hope the Circulator bus system is put in place, but like any bus system and unlike street rail it is easily cut when budgets get tight.

    Desperate situations inspire desperate and risky behavior, and this is a case in point. If we approach this project on our knees in gratitude for GGP as a savior, we will be thoroughly screwed.

    Before we commit to changing the LDA, GGP needs to spend some real cash doing a buildable design that we can review and modify. So far they have offered almost nothing realistic to indicate what they plan to build.

    It says something about our times that the feasibility of this project depends upon “catching” a market which could turn on a dime and leave them stranded, just as 2008 left the original project stranded. Cross your fingers.

  17. Suzanne

    Mr. Tully, Thank you for your sensible evaluation, detailed and apt for the area, in particular to the architectural style and overall concept being “laid” atop a map out of relationship or scale to the existing conditions. I especially appreciate your observation that the best views are going to be from the parking lot!

  18. Amanda

    Gordon Tully is right. I think GGP should host a REAL public forum in concert hall to hear from all the public, rather than the small special interest groups they have been talking to for input.

  19. Ms Ruby McPherson

    Why a hotel,even if its to be upscale, the extended stay hotel that is coming up on South Main Street? when we still need affordable housing rather than a hotel. People who can’t afford market rate are not all thugs and drug dealers let the condo owners know that. With that its a go, as long as there is job training for all Norwalker who need a job, not just the latinos construction and laborers!!!

  20. THE TRUTH

    Can’t wait for opening day… This is perfect

  21. John Hamlin

    It is not the business of the developers to provide low income housing if they are not providing housing. And it is not their business to provide job training. Let’s not weigh down this potential development with proposed solutions to every social problem ailing our community — nothing will ever get done. We just need a development that will enhance and not ruin our city.

  22. Kevin Di Mauro

    This project is beginning to remind me of the Edsel motorcar. It was a Ford product notorious for being a marketing disaster. It has become synonymous with the “real-life” failure of the predicted “perfect” product.

  23. Gordon Tully

    Just to be clear, I am not proposing affordable housing, just market-rate apartments. Young people who spend $3,000 a month in NYC can get a place for $1,500 here, or alternatively can have more space. The train ride may not be any longer than their subway ride in the apple, although it costs a little more. It only takes 10 minutes more from SoNo than from Stamford.

    If there is a circulator, it would go to the train station, and renters could ride it to work.

  24. Ms Ruby McPherson

    @ John Hamilton, so affordable housing would ruin our city?

    I am all for the development, we need jobs so people can get back to work. As is, its so much discrimination, even age wise if you need to work to meet your needs.

  25. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Good to read the words of a professional. This project needs an architect, and I nominate Gordon Tully.

    The proposed additions (hotel, College extension, performing arts facility, etc.) are all encouraging. However, it is clear that tacking features on to a shopping center such as the one being proposed requires a fine hand so as not to turn into an even bigger architectural monster or yet another esthetic boondoggle.

    What we have seen in renderings presented by the owners of the property do not inspire confidence in the esthetic sensitivities of the draftsmen with which they have been working. Obviously, it is not entirely fair to judge a project on the basis of sketches, but these “concept” markers do indicate what the owner considers an appropriate “direction”. The direction this project has been taking, with glitzy “jewel” windows and redundant mega-shopping capabilities in an area already saturated with big box shopping, seems headed in the wrong way and gives every appearance of inappropriate use of one of Fairfield County’s prime pieces of real estate.

    Most encouraging would be the sensitive addition by a professional architect of features that bring citizens into a town center for other than to satisfy the overweight urge for more consumption of stuff.

    Gordon Tully, is your firm available or can you recommend another local professional firm to our so called planners?

  26. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO THE LINK SUGGESTED BY WINESHINE.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/this-is-the-american-mall-we-surrender/ar-BBeYiZI

    It should be a pretty frightening read for anyone holding stock in GGP or other Mall Builders…

  27. Don’t Panic

    @Gordon Tully,
    The schematic is a compressed view of multiple levels and the developer made clear that you couldn’t tell from it how much the land varied in height from back to front.

    Couples who can afford $3,000 a month to live in NYC don’t leave NYC, they move to Brooklyn. It’s the couples who can’t afford $1,500 a month to live in NYC that are likely to move. And 2 working adults earning minimum wage in this mall would not be able to afford $1,500 a month without exceeding 40% of their gross earnings on housing–that’s not viable.

    The train ride may not be any longer than their subway ride in the apple, although it costs a little more. Actually it’s about triple what the subway costs ($112/month vs $330.00/month).

    @John Hamlin,
    And it is not their business to provide job training. —and yet, they are proposing to do exactly that.

    @Sara Sikes,
    The fact that this is an “enterprise zone” means we will be subsidizing this project—with tax abatements for seven years—just long enough for the developer to capitalize on that “market” they don’t want to miss. And there really is nothing in it for Norwalk but a honking big building. Sales tax goes to the state, property tax is nil for the first seven years, and the jobs are too low-paying (other than the construction phase) to support living in Norwalk, so the income will go to other cities.

  28. Suzanne

    Wineshine,
    What the supporters of the Mall will say to your article, a very apt example as far as I am concerned is: the demographics are not the same; the best retail concepts in the business are working on this GGP Mall so therefore it is a good idea; that this is “local” real estate” and, therefore, any other examples from other areas are irrelevant.

    That information which has been provided including the “FAIL” rating for GGP with NASDAQ in all categories is irrelevant.

    That internet sales are gaining on the brick and mortar stores is irrelevant.

    That the many,many articles provided by countless people about Mall failure and decline are all irrelevant.

    That they choose “better” anchor stores that will sell this leviathan, make “better” more experienced choices.

    Yet, GGP’s own malls have failed to thrive. (But that doesn’t count either because everybody suffered in April 2009 and had to file for bankruptcy.)

    Why? Because GGP is the expert and knows what is good for Norwalk. (Please note “Don’t Panic’s” citation to Sikes above. I also, BTW, provided a graph from Bloomberg LLP showing the trending for Malls as going down, down, down.)

    These same people will say they are providing “good” jobs, that being against the Mall is somehow treasonous against the welfare of Norwalk.

    GGP’s expectations for customers per year, 12 million (from at least two of their community presentations), is ridiculous and yet, and yet, look at the great location! How great a “connector” it is going to be between Wall Street and SoNo. How wonderful it is so close to the train station. So wonderful that GGP has actually said this shopping arena will attract NEW YORKERS as a prime destination.

    The “performance space” is 10,000 square feet and tucked into a busy corner at West Avenue. The “school space” for NCC comprises 5,000 square feet. GGP has REALLY adjusted their concept to comply with community requests in their 740,000 square feet of retail space.

    A quote from your article:

    “The mall is also losing shoppers to Concord’s resurgent downtown, which like much of the U.S. is benefiting from a surge of people moving back from the suburbs and patronizing shops they can stroll to. Main Street has become a premium shopping district catering to consumers looking for local, unique merchandise.”

    Wow. What a concept. A revitalized downtown with local merchants.

  29. Don’t Panic

    @Suzanne,
    Well said. This is a good opportunity for the developer, but not necessarily for Norwalk. Perhaps one of the Planning commissioners or Zoning commissioners, current or formers can enlighten us as to what the City envisioned for that site in our master plan. That plan should have accounted for far more input and integration of the pedestrian and bike master plan and sidewalks and traffic.

  30. Wineshine

    Suzanne, I’m not really 100 %sure from your statements where your sentiments are, but you seem to be, in spite of factual evidence that malls are failing nationwide, in favor of this project. If you read the entire article from the link I posted, you should have noticed the paragraph that reads:

    “Built 24 years ago by a former subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp., Steeplegate is one of about 300 U.S. malls facing a choice between re-invention and oblivion. Most are middle-market shopping centers being squeezed between big-box chains catering to low-income Americans and luxury malls lavishing white-glove service on One Percenters.”

    We obviously don’t know which malls are called to question here, but odds are that in more than a few cases, demographics, which GGP might cite as being different from Concord, would match up to Norwalk.

    One may choose to live in a world where everything is lollipops and balloons, but facts are facts:

    Bricks and mortar stores have been severely compromised by internet retailing.

    History of mall failures is evident.

    Choosing better anchor stores may not be the answer. Saks, Filene’s and others have departed Stamford Town Centre of the years.

    The financial upheaval of 2009 DOES matter!! How can anyone say, “that was a gimme”? Tell that to people who have lost 50% of their savings.

    GGP has a commercial interest in this development. “GGP is the expert and knows what’s best for Norwalk”? Really, was that said tongue-in-cheek?

    Any mall, or theme park or other commercial development will likely not be a “connector” between that site and Wall St. Can someone tell me what the attraction to Wall Street is anyway?

    Suzanne, these ALL are RELEVANT facts, and should be guideposts. In business, a good practice is to duplicate success, not failure.

    Any BTW, to think that the city will not subsidize this project (which I’m not condemning, as it’s quite normal in urban development) is foolhardy.

    Permit me this: This city is a fractious mess. Agencies and legislators cannot put their differences aside; the Mayor chooses to be silent on key issues; what was to have been a path to NPS success, finally, has come to an abrupt halt; there often seems to be that foul odor of racism from the loudest voices; taxes have risen out of character with real estate values, and worse have been assessed by an outside agency with nothing but commercial interest in mind (if we raise revenue for Norwalk, other cities will hire us). I’ve paid taxes in this city for 30 years and I want this city to get it’s act together and move forward in a bipartisan, fiscally responsible manner. Until our legislators can work together for all of our best interests, 1%ers and minorities alike, sorry, but they don’t speak for me.

  31. Suzanne

    Wineshine, I could not be more against this Mall folly. I am sorry that did not come across. (My writing must be slipping!) What I meant to convey was the facts as GGP sees them and how tacitly ridiculous they are.

    We are being sold a “bill of goods” where Norwalk, in its anxiety over leaving a “hole in the ground” will take anything at this point, any idea and run with it.

    I can’t figure out where people have their heads – the data you provided and my response to it (which I was hoping was more clear in its condemnation of this project) cannot be more true yet I have been told many times that this data just isn’t “relevant.” (Thus my soliloquy above.)

    The other points made above, in spite of all evidence to the contrary says we must play the proverbial ostrich while we are to believe “This is Norwalk and this is GGP and they know better.”

    http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/ggp/guru-analysis/dreman

    An analysis of GGP’s NASDAQ rating, up slightly on three key areas since my last posting out of thirteen components. Still below the 50% ratings category for investment recommendation.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/04/17/us-generalgrowth-bankruptcy-idUSTRE53F68P20090417

    The article from Reuters outlining the largest US Real Estate Bankruptcy in history, courtesy of GGP.

    This was in April of 2009. I can’t believe a corporation of their size, given the downward trend of their core business, building Malls, has actually successfully recovered from this debacle EXCEPT they did offload their failing properties and now look a whole lot shinier. (A very truncated description of what took place.)

    This conclusion, without too much of a stretch due to the subsidies being offered, could very well mean that GGP sees a good deal when they can get one and that if they present it long enough and shiny enough to unsuspecting citizens using a popular and politically well spoken retired Larry Cafero, they will get a piece of real estate that supports their corporate climb.

    In addition, the property you reference in Concord, MA, is managed by a company called “Rouse Properties” a spin-off (read “download” or rather, “divesting”) of GGP.

    Another reference to why GGP undermines municipal taxes based upon their strategy to develop their “product:”

    http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/ggp.pdf

    What is equally disturbing is I have not seen, at least via NON, one presentation that shows either a realistic scale to the surrounding neighborhood nor statements that aren’t completely out sized to the site, neighborhood, or community’s welfare.

    Yet, with these small, insignificant gains toward community goals (“We’ve heard you and look what we’ve done!”), taxpayers are falling all over themselves to approve this Mall.

    The numbers don’t add up, the invasion, not connection, to the community, the lack of real and supporting jobs to Norwalk citizens absent, no appreciable data regarding traffic impact, a copying of storefront “menu’s” that exist everywhere. I don’t get it.

  32. I’m not a fan of indoor malls, I’d rather see more of a hybrid. My biggest concern is planting two large department stores here. Big box stores in general are reducing square footage as online business continues to grow. Fitting 75 smaller stores into the space seems ambitious for similar reasons.

    I’m torn on this effort. I was excited about the original prospect of 95/7 back in 1999, now the effort feels confused trying to address too many requests. How does an NCC satellite space help the school being just a few miles away? I fear it would be under-utilized and therefore wasted. How about increasing the size of the performance space and make it a destination venue for bigger acts in music, comedy, and so on?

  33. Wineshine

    Thanks Suzanne. Understood. We can gripe all we want, and we can listen to all the suggestions, and pipe dreams about what might work at 95/7 but if it was such a desirable piece of real estate, wouldn’t some guy named Donald have been sniffing around here a long time ago?

    Maybe it would have been better to leave Maritime Motors and CT Limo where they were!!

  34. John Hamlin

    What will Dan Malloy give Norwalk if we let the mall get built? Considering the way he has thrown money around for Stamford business development and forna few hundred jobs here or there, why isn’t he stepping up to give Norwalk something significant if we let the mall get built with all of these jobs that will be created and the amount of money the state will get from the deal? Why can’t Mayor Rilling and our state representatives get something really significant for Norwalk?

  35. Suzanne

    Gov. Malloy is too busy cutting funding for foster kids, elderly care and education. I wouldn’t want him funding another bad idea like this Mall.

  36. Don’t Panic

    Suzanne,
    Thanks for the links. I do hope many of the council people take the time to read the information you provided.

  37. LWitherspoon

    @Suzanne

    Do you believe that Mayor Rilling’s comments regarding the proposed mall are in keeping with the statements he made against the mall during his election campaign?

  38. Suzanne

    LWitherspoon, Enlighten me!

  39. Suzanne

    Excellent analysis mirroring what citizens against a Mall in Norwalk are saying.

    Of course, Len Schlesinger of Harvard Business School and the other experts who speak on this “failing Mall” topic don’t know squat according to GGP.

    I think it is especially revealing that the commentator mentions that not a single mall has been built since 2006 and that a Mall in tony Chestnut Hill is failing. (So we are not just talking about the Rust Belt and declining economies attributed to failure as claimed by other commentators on NON.)

    What seems to be successful is the new “lifestyle” centers where there is more than just shopping to do. A far cry from GGP’s proposed 174,000 square feet of retail space along with Norwalk “giving away the store” by “forgiving” property taxes for years.

    This report along with the points made re: the jobs that Norwalk citizens will not be able to afford, a lack of traffic studies as well as the out-sized reporting of shopper estimates makes this idea a loser and a huge risk for Norwalk.

    I’d rather have the hole in the ground than make such a terrible mistake, especially with an unstable company like GGP promoting an outdated idea.

  40. Suzanne

    Mistake above: even better, GGP is promoting 740,000 square feet of retail space and not the minuscule figure of 174,000 square feet.

  41. Amanda

    And the NCC “satellite campus” is part of the smoke and mirrors. The “school” esp is the smoke.

    A mall/hotel/school = what?

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