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Lamont marks $2M DECD grant for Webster lot cleanup

Screenshot from a Norwalk Common Council Economic & Community Development Committee meeting on Zoom, showing Quarterra’s concept for the Webster Block.

NORWALK, Conn. — The long-awaited Webster Street block redevelopment is about 10 months away from shovels in the ground, according to Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Brian Bidolli.

Norwalk officials met with Gov. Ned Lamont to celebrate the recent release of $2 million in State funding to support the redevelopment of the 4.97-acre municipal parking lot. Expected are 472 affordable mixed-income apartment units, 57,786 square feet of retail space, and 25,000 square feet of office space.

The funds go toward environmental remediation, “to actually clean up the property to construct the parking garage,” phase one of the hoped-for complete repurposing of the prominent parcel, Bidolli said at the Friday event.

“Part of housing is being able to think creatively,” Lamont said. “You know, you hear a lot about NIMBY, not in my backyard, what if your backyard is a parking lot? What if it’s a dilapidated building? What if it’s a place that needs some environmental remediation? That’s what the Brownfield remediation investments we’re doing, the environmental investments are.”

Upgrading the Merritt 7 train station has prompted a housing boom on Glover Avenue, Lamont said, characterizing ASML, a company “which is going to be the leading chip designer company in the world,” as being grateful for places for employees to reside.

“This is just an example of how these puzzle pieces, you know, have to fit together. As you keep an economy growing, keep a state growing, making sure that we not only have workers, we have places for our workers to live,” Lamont said.

Quarterra, a firm selected by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, recently presented concept plans for a mixed-use development with about 420 apartments on the Webster Street lot. A road would bisect the block, stretching from the lot’s Washington Street entrance to Martin Luther King Drive, and a pedestrian plaza would begin on Main Street and cross the expanse. A 650-space garage is planned to go behind 50 Washington St., which would be untouched by the project.

The $2 million grant makes the development possible, Bidolli said.

“The site was occupied by industrial land users in the 19th century and the site’s Environmental Site Assessment reports indicate contaminants in the soil. The site is used for surface parking currently, but due to its prominent location in the City, and proximity to the South Norwalk train station, a surface parking lot is not the highest and best end use.  However, in order for the site to be developed, the soil contaminants need to be cleaned up so that the site is suitable for more intensive economic development uses,” Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) spokesperson Jim Watson said in December.

On Friday, Bidolli said the project will bring $250-300 million of value to the City, “and the remediation itself about 5 million of that.”

Public outreach should begin this month and it will take 8-10 months to structure a deal with the City, followed by a 24-36 month construction period, he said. Negotiations are underway for a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA), with Redevelopment pushing for 20% affordable housing.

Norwalk will get more public parking out of the deal, Bidolli said. There are about 650 spaces now and “estimates currently are about 1100 parking spaces across the whole site.”

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4 responses to “Lamont marks $2M DECD grant for Webster lot cleanup”

  1. Patrick Cooper

    Norwalk the chump. Did anyone mention to our Governor, we can’t fund our schools, or our city services, and we also have a 50 million dollar problem with our water treatment, and because we got bullied into Bob Duff’s regional High School, we are about to lose a big portion of our budget to debt service so Bridgeport can get educated in Norwalk paid for by Norwalk?

    So – your plan is – make it worse?

    Ned – don’t come back. Not until you learn a few things – and make several visits to our neighbors. Because Ned – bubby – ASML is in Wilton. They get the jobs, we get the housing. And we swallow the costs for this added density.

    Ned – when are you going to bully Wilton into finishing the Route 7 connector? Ned – do you know what Wilton doesn’t have? Affordable housing (the real thing – not the political corruption kind). You know what Wilton also doesn’t have? A Redevelopment Agency, a Housing Authority, nor a Parking Authority, in fact – any “authority” that is unelected and unaccountable. What does Wilton have? A YMCA. Their big development is a new Police Station.

    When will Norwalk have an open and honest conversation about how we are being used and abused by the state, and our local representatives? 6 cents on the dollar, and still we bend over every single time. Where is our dignity?

  2. Drew Todd

    $2 Million for a PARKING LOT!!!!! And 475 More Freaking apartments WE DON’T NEED!! More Office Space?!!? WHAT?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?!?! There is BARELY anyone in offices as it is. The majority of State Employees aren’t even back in their office! WTH makes you think they will go into new offices any time soon!?!?! We need money for the schools in case Lamont and Duffy didn’t get the memo. This is a horrible idea and something the City should push back on and have the funds diverted to the schools.

  3. Daniel Benjamin

    Please remind me, what happened to the Isaac Street public parking lot?

  4. Tysen Canevari

    Here Here Patrick. What a joke. What a great celebration. more friggin apartments in Norwalk. Another ribbon cutting for Harry and Ned. That does what for the average tax payer and quality of life in Norwalk? Please vote Harry out of office this year. He sits back and gets used like a puppet at our expense. Very sad what we have become here.

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