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Milligan buys ‘the whole block’

Is Milligan good for Wall Street? Two stakeholders respond.

Real estate broker Jason Milligan, Thursday on River Street, with a “Milligan Way” sign. “I now own every property on River Street,” he said. “Should we change the name?” (Contributed)

NORWALK, Conn. — Real estate broker Jason Milligan, self-described Wall Street Redeveloper, said he now owns every property on River Street.

Milligan said he bought 48 Wall St. and 16 River St. for a total $4.2 million Thursday. It’s a purchase he’s been hinting at for a while, promising to blow “Laoise King’s socks off.”

King is Norwalk Chief of Staff. She didn’t reply to a Thursday email giving her a chance to respond to Milligan’s statements.

Milligan owned about 40 Wall Street area properties before Thursday’s splurge. He’s embroiled in multiple lawsuits with the City and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

Milligan said he bought three properties Thursday, including 1 Mechanic St. in his list. There’s no such address in the City’s records. He explained, “48 Wall & 16 River are the legal addresses but it is 3 contiguous buildings. 1 Mechanic St is the middle building.”

He said, “I bought the whole block. Bank of America up to Banc House.”

Milligan owns the former My Three Sons building across the street. That’s next to the Yankee Doodle Garage, owned by the City.

Penn Central owns a sliver of vacant property at 18 River St., on the same side as Banc House, according to the City records, which describes it as “State DOT land.” It’s the Danbury branch railroad line running under the sidewalk.

Both 48 Wall St. and 16 River St. were owned by LLCs associated with James Tucciarone of Wilton. Milligan said he paid about $1.8 million for 48 Wall and $2.4 million for 16 River.

  • Tucciarone, under 48 Wall Street LLC, bought that property in 200 for $1.6 million, according to City records. It’s appraised at $2,189,590.
  • Tucciarone, under 16 River Street Associates LLC, bought that property in 2004 for $1.75 million, according to City records. It’s appraised at $2,459,590.

 

Milligan said that as always, his plans for the properties will “continue to evolve and change based on the types of tenants we are able to attract. I have quite a few ideas. For sure people will see an immediate difference outside. We plan to start upgrading the plantings and other landscaping.”

Milligan said:

“As you know I have big plans for River Street. Those plans happen to coincide with everything the office of Economic Development and the Transportation, Parking & Mobility are working on. It is a perfect compliment {cq} of public and private. The public is focused on infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, intersections etc, while I am focused on improving the beautiful historic buildings and bringing in new tenants.

“The final piece that the area needs is some tweaks to the zoning regulations that will allow the area a little more flexibility as it rebuilds. If we get those zoning improvements then the area will rocket forward and I would be able to build my plans like the Hotel.”

 

A rendering of Jason Milligan’s hoped for hotel.

When Milligan bought the former My Three Sons building at 64 Wall St. two years ago, he said he wanted to build a hotel. Planning and Zoning denied the plan as not in compliance with parking requirements.

As for zoning, “We hope to have a draft of the citywide updated zoning regulations available for public presentation and discussion in November,” Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said in an email.

Milligan has reportedly been seeking Norwalk Preservation Trust President Tod Bryant’s support for his hoped for-zoning changes.

Bryant said he’s aware of what Milligan wants and he doesn’t think it would be good for the historic nature of the district.

 

Milligan seen as a major catalyst

Is Milligan good for Wall Street?

That’s “hard to say,” Bryant replied. The stalled Wall Street Place, referred to by Milligan and others as The Tyvek Temple, is a “blackeye” for the area and if not for Milligan’s attempts to stop the current plans from going forward, it would be built by now, he said. The neighborhood would look normal and there would be people on the streets, patronizing the businesses.

Wall Street Neighborhood Association President Marc Alan had other thoughts. He wrote:

“I’m the first to admit that Jason can be a double edge sword, but as I see it, he has been a major catalyst for change in a neighborhood that was completely stagnant for many years. When I moved here ten years ago, I used to ask people from Norwalk, why is it like this? And they would talk about the flood of 1955.

“As for how Jason has changed things for the better,  I can only speak of my own experiences as someone who owns a business on Isaac Street for the past 10 years, and who lived at 31 Isaac Street for four years.

“Before he bought the Isaac Street Parking Lot it was a sea of abandoned cars, overgrown trees, and broken beer bottles. Women were afraid to walk to their cars. It was surrounded by bleak, dilapidated properties, many of which today encompass thriving businesses.

“I remember when he purchased 21 Isaac Street, that had been slated for demolition; it now houses ARCSSL, one of the top lighting and sound companies in the northeast. He also bought the property which was the old Hookah Lounge, that for years attracted drug dealers and prostitues, and now houses the Mad Lab, one of the many creative businesses that Wall Street is becoming known for.

“During the pandemic he invested his own money into commissioning artwork, into what became a beacon of hope in a very dark time, establishing what is known as the Isaac Street Art Park.

“He redeveloped the old Fairfield County Bank building at 67 Wall Street, which now encompasses Juice Creative/Space 67, where Netflix comes to film movies. The space above the new bank is now occupied by the Norwalk Conservatory, a performing arts college. We have an actual college on Wall Street, largely thanks to Jason.

“Compared to other major property owners such as SCG Capital, whose properties encompass chronically empty store fronts, such as old Etude Ballet studio at 104 Wall Street, and the old health club at 84 Wall Street, properties that have been vacant for well over ten years, Jason is the only one renovating properties and enabling small retail businesses to open.

“Jason is a founding member of the Wall Street Neighborhood Association, investing both his own money, and a considerable amount of his personal time.

“In my opinion, anyone who says Jason hasn’t done a tremendous amount of good for the Wall Street community either has a very short memory of what it was actually like here ten years ago, is someone who spends no time here, or just isn’t willing to say.”

Reminder: NancyOnNorwalk requires full names from commenters. For more information, go here. NoN reporter Harold Cobin contributed to this story. 

8 comments

David Osler September 30, 2022 at 7:57 am

I think Jason has done everything he can despite the city efforts to block him I don’t know why the city is even trying their vision has been failing for over half a century before Jason got involved. The only thing the city has done is removed a free parking lot and made people Park in backwards which doesn’t work for 90% of the drivers. The city should abandon their ambitions on Wall Street leave Jason in charge by simple capitalism has some basic rules regarding historic buildings the same rules the city ignored and they’re chosen developers. Wall street’s becoming interesting again if the city was smart I’d sell him the garage that few people park at

Lisa Brinton September 30, 2022 at 7:58 am

Jason Milligan? Unconventional? Pain-in-the-butt? Absolutely. But he’s done something the Redevelopment Agency and City Hall have been unable to do through 2 mayoral administrations and 20 years -bring small businesses back to Wall Street!! Poko was a stalled mess before Milligan ever bought it from the failed developer. My fear is ego and dollar signs have taken over the corporate council, as his firm benefits keeping the lawsuit alive. While Milligan faces lawsuits, other developers get favored tax credits to repeatedly build oversized apartments. It’s so blatantly prejudicial, it’s absurd. The difference Milligan has made with his investor’s money – versus the city trying to stop him with ours is also ridiculous. Harry, be bold, be brave, be independent – show Mario that you are in charge and settle with this guy and let’s finally moved that part of town forward.

David Muccigrosso September 30, 2022 at 8:49 am

I applaud Jason’s persistence.

What’s interesting about these frank perspectives is that they point to a deep problem that gets ignored in favor of the flashy headlines about stuff like POKO: Rampant speculation and absenteeism.

A lot of real estate in Norwalk is currently being held by speculators who can easily afford to leave it empty, and this holds back growth. It’s costing us DEARLY.

And the insane thing is, the policy fix is relatively simple. Increase property tax rates for landlords who don’t find tenants! Maybe we double their mill rates for every year they’re over 50% vacant, and keep doubling up to some cap.

The point is, Norwalk shouldn’t reward speculation while our dear city stagnates and rots in front of our eyes. Who REALLY owns Norwalk – its citizens, or a bunch of banks who drop in every decade or so to exploit the hard work we put into building up our own growth without their help?

Jason Milligan September 30, 2022 at 9:05 am

Well done is better than well said.

Tod Bryant fits in the well said category. When he talks it sounds good but then you look around.

Where was he when POKO tore down several beautiful historic buildings to give us the Tyvek Temple?

Where is he on the Garden Cinema demolition about to take place?

Tod is one of the few guys that has made out like a bandit over the past two decades pedaling nonsense like the Flood of 55 is somehow still to blame for Wall Street’s failures.

Tod should find a mirror when he is looking for reasons Wall Street has struggled. He is part of the system of failures.

Patrick Cooper September 30, 2022 at 9:09 am

Interesting. This has been like when the Discovery channel runs Shark Week, except here in Norwalk – it’s been Milligan week. Can’t wait for Spinnaker week: talk about blood in the water.

Two stakeholders? I’m going to go out on a limb and say – there might be more. And – quite a few will sing the praises of one Jason Milligan.

Oh, I wonder how this story would unfold – if say – the narrative was flipped just a tad, and the question was – “has Rilling been good for Wall Street” – waiting since 2013.

Crickets.

Steve balazs October 1, 2022 at 7:00 am

Milligan may have some great ideas but he doesn’t like to play by the rules . To get the job finished do we bend the system for him? Apparently a host of people think that’s fine but if there neighbor decides there going to change the zoning rules etc… For their own benefit I doubt it. Milligan is using the press and those who don’t like Rilling to try to bully the city to his position where he’ll make an enormous profit. If he simply had followed the rules the tyvek building would already be the Milligan towers

Tysen Canevari October 1, 2022 at 8:02 am

I think another good question might be is can he be any worse? First of all, ever since the Pathmark mall was made the hub for Wheels bus the downtown area saw a steady decline in the wall street area. I agree with Lisa 100 percent. These apartment builders get tax abatements for two years and then they turn around and sell the properties after that. Not a bad deal if you have the cash to put up front. Maybe Jason should put his name in the mayoral race so Harry would be forced to debate him once and for all. That would be a ticket worth pay per view dollars! The mayor was quoted as saying Wall Street has been no good since the flood so then move aside and give someone an opportunity other than your developer buddies to make it better. The whole scenario with Mario and the conflict of interest is just insane.

Jason Milligan October 1, 2022 at 11:06 pm

Steve,

Do we know each other?

It sounds like you may have sipped the cool aid that city hall is giving out.

First of all, nobody follow more rules than I do.

2nd I have nothing to do with the failure or success of the Tyvek embarrassment. That failed for over a decade before I was even tangentially involved.

3rd I have been doing business for 20 years in Norwalk. 15 of those years nobody knew who I was. Then 5 years ago the Mayor & Mario sued me over my project near the library.

I followed all the rules but they were embarrassed by their own mistakes with the library. I became the scapegoat. It wasn’t right.

After that the gloves were off. I made it my mission to point out the mistakes and dumb rules. I also tried to make the rules better for everyone.

I might make a profit in the end, I might not. It is my risk and not yours or any other taxpayers.

I can tell you that my latest offer would sell the controversial parking lot back to the city at a loss for me, and for the exact terms they negotiated in 2015.

If you are genuinely curious I am happy to speak to you or anyone else, any time.

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