‘Mall’ proposal for Norwalk 95/7 tabled for review

Norwalk 95-7    012-20130305
Might there be a mall coming to this Norwalk wasteland, the proposed site of 95/7? If so, it won’t be anytime soon.

Corrections made Oct. 25- 95/7, not Spinnaker; entire site, not partial site

NORWALK, Conn. – A developer proposing to take ownership of one of Norwalk’s long-standing “bombsites” did not get instant answers Tuesday evening.

The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency’s plan to review and approve the transfer of the long-stalled 95/7 project, at the intersection of West Avenue and Interstate 95, to a publicly traded real estate investment trust, apparently for the purposes of building a mall, was tabled.

“I think we all need the opportunity to digest this and look at everything here,” RDA Chairman Felix Serrano said.

“Everything here” were documents dated Oct. 18 seeking permission for 95/7 Enterprises to transfer parcels 1, 2 and 4 of the Reed Putnam Urban Renewal Plan to Norwalk Land Development, which is owned and controlled by GGP Limited Partnership. That is General Growth Properties, a publicly traded real estate investment trust with a portfolio of 123 properties totaling roughly 128 million square feet, which is “focused exclusively on owning, managing, leasing and developing high quality retail properties” according to a letter written by Douglas Adams, GGP senior director.

GGP builds malls.

“I think the point has been made that this is rather sudden and that we really do need some time to look at this a little further,” RDA member Lori Torrano said.

Serrano said he had been planning to table it all along.

There were 15 pages of information about the proposed transaction in the evening’s meeting agenda, and a brochure about GGP. The proposed resolution would have been effective Nov. 12.

RDA Executive Director Tim Sheehan said that if GGP wants to modify the plans for the 12-acre site this is just the beginning of the process. If the agency approves the transfer it a plan modification would then go to the Common Council Planning Committee. If the committee approves the modification the next step would be the approval of the full council.

“The agency would have to find in its reasonable opinion that the redeveloper has the experience, qualifications, reputation and financial ability to perform the expected redeveloper obligations under the agreement,” Sheehan said, reading from the Land Disposition Agreement.

In August, 95/7 obtained a foundation permit. Since then, there has been no activity, and repeated attempts to contact Spinnaker to find out when construction will begin have gone unanswered.

The 95/7 site was the setting for a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 13, 2011, shortly before the last municipal election.


9 responses to “‘Mall’ proposal for Norwalk 95/7 tabled for review”

  1. EastNorwalkChick

    I wouldn’t mind a mall, tired of driving to either Stamford or Danbury….a outdoor mall, like Clinton Crossing would be nice.

  2. Don’t Panic

    Who owns the land? What are the terms of the “transfer”? Did Spinnaker get consideration from the City for the originally planned development? Will that transfer to? Or is this another grab for valuable real estate on the cheap? Why are there not some detaled proposals for redevelopment to review when making this decision?

  3. Ken Werner

    An outlet mall such as Clinton Crossing is likely to be successful since the concept is well established and there is nothing like it in the area. However, there is no indication in your story that this is the kind of mall GGP is considering.

    Wasn’t the original idea behind 95/7 that it be a mixed-use development? Mixed-use projects generally produce the most successful and sustainable municipal growth, and such a project should be encouraged here. The city would benefit from residential, as well as commercial, activity at 95/7, as opposed to a night-time city of the dead.

  4. bsmith

    Think a high quality mall is a great idea. This company looks like it knows what it is doing too.

  5. M Allen

    @Ken Werner – the city could benefit from commercial activity at the location, but why would it benefit from anything related to residential? Do we need more apartment dwellers? I supose if we’re talking high end then perhaps the taxes will surpass the cost of city services related to the inhabitants.
    This has the potential to be one of the top commercial real estate developments in Norwalk due to its location at the crossroads of 95/7. It should be viewed from one angle and one angle alone: revenue generation for the city. It wont be much of an outdoor mall on that plot of land. With the need for parking, it just won’t be very big. And I’m not sure how much an outdoor mall, or any mall really generates in tax revenue. That property needs high-revenue (taxes), low-cost (doesn’t increase school population) development.

  6. Joe Espo

    But wait! This mall can’t have any large anchor stores like Stamford’s Macy’s or J.C. Penney because those would be considered big box stores and that would surely put a certain someone’s knickers in a twist on this blog, as well as Harry Rilling’s. Perhaps we can have a couple of mini-Macy’s, each the size of a Radio Shack.

  7. Tim T

    Can’t wait for opening day..

  8. Al Bore

    At this point something needs to be done to make Norwalk more attractive

  9. New2SONO

    A Target would be a nice addition…

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