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Kinol expects new West Avenue construction soon

Developer Paxton Kinol talks to the Norwalk Zoning Commission on Thursday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. – New plans for what was the Loehman’s Plaza will be submitted next week, developer Paxton Kinol told the Norwalk Zoning Commission on Thursday.

This will still include an iPic movie theater, planned to be the anchor for the Waypointe neighborhood’s retail and restaurants, but also 330 apartments, he said, offering details about what new stores might move in.  

It’s the Waypointe South Block, a 4.5-acre parcel bordered by West Avenue, Orchard Street, Butler Street and Quincy Street. The site will be fenced in within a week or two and turned into a construction site, he said.

Kinol in October obtained Zoning approval for a technical change, a text amendment to clear up complications stemming from different investors having ownership of buildings within the Waypointe complex.

Although Belpointe Capital is involved with every aspect of the plan that originated with Stanley Seligson, it has partners in the Waypointe ventures and things had become complicated, he said.

“If you approve this tonight, I believe next month we will see the Gap and Loehmans come down,” he said.

On Thursday, Kinol said developers had spent six months coming up with a new plan.

The modifications were unofficially submitted Thursday and will officially be submitted next week, he said.

The development is planned for 110,000 square feet of retail or entertainment and will include a swimming pool on top of the parking garage, a new trick for his company, he said.

A year ago, Kinol won approval for a 109,157-square-foot mixed-use development with 76 apartments and 16,820 square feet of retail, with an underground parking garage.

The new plan is to dig the parking garage deeper, Kinol said Thursday.

Also new is a plan to push the development back from the street to allow better on-street parking than currently exists in the area, he said.

Cars parked on both sides of Orchard essentially reduce it to one lane of traffic, as drivers pull off to the side where possible to allow others to pass.

“I think everybody has seen how tight the parking is,” Kinol said.

The topography allows for two floors of retail on Orchard Street and it looks like there will be an LA Fitness or a 24-hour fitness facility on the second floor, while the first floor is not yet spoken for, he said.

Completing the development will mean that a pedestrian plaza is created from Orchard to Butler Street, which will probably be lined with restaurants, he said.

This would begin across the street from Waypointe’s pedestrian plaza, where Old Colony Pizza and Barcelona are, and open up on the other end to the Stepping Stones Museum for Children.

The plan has always included moving the two-story brick building at 3 Quincy St.; while it was planned to go across the street, Kinol said that plan has fallen through and the building will instead be moved to 6 Butler St.

It was pointed out to him that many of Waypointe’s retail spaces are vacant.

Belpointe has not had control of that for 18 to 24 months and has been frustrated as its investment partner has let deals fall through, Kinol said.

“We have signed letters of intent with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, CKO Kickboxing and Burtons Grill… all deals that they have chosen not to move forward with,” Kinol said. “It’s frustrating for us to be partners in the project and watch them not sign these deals.”

Belpointe plans to let those businesses move into the new development, he said.

“We are not going to let this fester,” Kinol said.

Commissioner Galen Wells asked about the iPic theater as possible competition for Bowtie Cinemas.

“I don’t think you’re going to see any movie theaters go out of business because of iPic,” Kinol said. “It’s a membership business, people drive for a while to come to it. So, iPic in Boca knows it will do well here because there are so many Fairfield County residents who are already members of iPic, Fla.”

Memberships are free, but iPic has credit card information so it knows where the zip codes are, he said.

He went on to describe iPic’s luxury: there’s a four-star restaurant and a bar in the building, with black-clad “Ninja’s” bringing food to movie patrons ensconced in leather La-z-y Boy recliners in the theater, he said.

Tickets are $22 each, and 55 percent of the businesses revenue comes from alcohol sales, he said.

“You literally check in at what looks like a hotel counter,” he said.

“They are very expensive,” Kinol said. “We are paying $7 million in tenant fit up for them to come, but we think it’s a nice anchor for Waypointe.”

A map of the Waypointe area, prepared by Belpointe Capital.

Comments

11 responses to “Kinol expects new West Avenue construction soon”

  1. anna russo

    MORE apartments… unbelievable…

  2. Patrick Cooper

    More apartment’s? I didn’t fathom I could ever agree with a position taken by Anna Russo – but here we have one. This city is literally drowning with apartments – those that exist, those being built, and those to come. I once guessed 20,000. I am now certain, by taking a closer look, and adding all the 2-family & illegal (5 satellite dishes hanging of the 2nd floor) – I believe Norwalk may have over 40,000 apartments – with a population “census” of 85,000. Think we might have another 25,000 folks not on the rolls?). This is why prior comments – by Mr. Cahn, Lisa Thompson, and so many others – are so frustratingly true. Our city government – with a political mayor, appointee’s – cronies, and folks with little to zero relevant experience are allowing slick developers and their attorneys to make a quick buck on the back’s of this city’s future. Who cares to wager how many of these developments will sour, get sold (multiple times), end up in foreclosure, get bought out by a group affiliated with state programs, and turn into section 8 voucher housing. Voila! We have Bridgeport 2.0.

    As for the Ipic. Does anyone else see an issue where – his own words – “people drive for a while (miles) to come to it”, and “55% of the business revenue come from alcohol”. I guess the competition will be gone once our town allows for the destruction of the Imax for the walk bridge project.

  3. Sono Spirit

    I have to agree with the others. There seem to be way too many apartments planned or in-progress within Norwalk right now. Part of what gives Norwalk its character and separates it from the scale of Stamford is its lack of density, its meandering roads, and its historic homes, maintaining its New England feel. There has to be some balance between the urban core and the wider suburban (single family) parts of the city. Right now it seems that most of the planning is to greatly increase the density of living and height of buildings in Norwalk with the construction of the mall, all of the new tall apartment complexes and probably other elements in Redevelopment’s plans. Why not also invest in improving the historic elements of Norwalk and thereby increase interest in the city?

  4. The Norwalker

    It looks like they are planning to do something with that White House next to Lockheed Park. What about the business in it?

  5. Tony P

    @SoNo Spirit – improving upon or recognizing the historic elements of Norwalk and the lack of density, meandering roads, and overall character would require a city with a plan, that enforces zoning. That aint us.

  6. Donald

    Rilling must go if you want the destruction of Norwalk to stop. The last thing we need is more empty apartments. These will soon be all section 8 as was planned all along.

  7. Sue Haynie

    Glad to see things moving forward. New entertainment venues that can be used by Norwalkers and be a draw for out-of-Towners is a positive. Much of Connecticut is hurting, emptying. Thank goodness Norwalk has a location that can still attract growth, vitality and new tax revenues.

  8. Adolph Neaderland

    Sue, nonsense!

    I have not seen any comprehensive plan that justifies the number of residential hi-rise construction, only wishful thinking and grand statements by the developers.

    Norwalk has gone from a city that had a YMCA, 2 book stores, a vibrant symphony orchestra that required 2 performances to satisfy it’s patrons, to no YMCA, no book stores and a great orchestra that rarely fills the house for 1 performance, and a boxed in library that will cost the city a ransom to fix.

    Our lack of city planning has led to an unwise change in demographics, an unwise explosion of big box stores, an encroachment on open space, overcrowded schools suddenly requiring a crash building program and zoning changes that cripple land use.

    Currently, neither P&Z nor Redevelopment have “concern for the city” in their job descriptions, an unfortunate oversight that can be corrected in the next election,

    Adolph Neaderland

  9. srb1228

    All these complaints remind me of the Yoga Berraism “it’s so crowded nobody wants to go there anymore”. I agree Norwalk should have a stronger and more clear outlook, and there is a chance that it is being overdeveloped: capitalist economies have a tendency to boom and bust, but ultimately developers wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think it they’d get a good return. Norwalk was never Westport or New Canaan and never will be (nor do I want it to be)

  10. Bill Nightingale Jr

    Sounds good. Just keep the Redevelopment Agency and any subsidies out of it. No subsidies for retail or restaurant tenants….period.

    And if if you don’t like too many apartments lobby to have the zoning regs changed. But as long as they permit it that’s what we’ll get.

    Oh…and above all lobby to have the Redevelopment Agency abolished.

  11. Jeff

    These guys are all a piece of work. If Seligson still owns the property he should get as far away as possible from this group. They have no idea what they’re doing. This has turned into low income housing and the city allows speeders, druggies and chaos to take place over here. The streets are so narrow that two cars can’t even go safely down. Both Merwin & Orchard are horrible.

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