Milligan, City officials meet; Milligan claims transfer negates lawsuit

Isaac Street on June 1.

Updated, 6:37 a.m.: Copy edits, new headline; 6:51 a.m.: Copy edit

NORWALK, Conn. — Developer Jason Milligan discussed Wall Street redevelopment with City officials Friday, then requested that a lawsuit against him be withdrawn.

Milligan in an email said he met with Mayor Harry Rilling, Assistant to the Mayor Laoise King, Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola and Assistant Corporation Counsel Brian McCann Friday afternoon to discuss ideas for Wall Street redevelopment.  Milligan and City officials have been at odds since Milligan misled them regarding his plans to purchase parts of the stalled Wall Street Place development, with the City filing a lawsuit claiming damages and seeking to annul the purchase.

There was “some progress” during Friday’s meeting, “maybe a little healing,” Milligan said.  City officials declined to comment on Milligan’s characterization of the meeting.  Coppola in an e-mail said that “representatives from the Agency and City have been continuously listening with an open mind to Mr. Milligan’s many ideas.”

After the Friday afternoon meeting, Milligan informed the City and Redevelopment Agency that he has taken a legal action – a deed-in-lieu property transfer – that he said made their lawsuit against him irrelevant.

Milligan was served one week ago with a lawsuit seeking an injunction and damages related to his May 31 purchase of Wall Street Place Phase II and Phase III properties via Wall Street Opportunity Fund LLC, which he controls.  The lawsuit contends that Richard Olson of POKO Partners violated the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) on the properties when he sold them to an entity controlled by Milligan, and seeks to have the sale annulled. It requests $5 million as a prejudgment remedy, to be attached to the five properties involved, three parcels on Isaac Street and two on Wall Street.

Milligan is managing member of Wall Street Opportunity Fund LLC. He has been requested to be in court Monday for the first conference in the case.

ISLR Owners LLC, controlled by Olson, took out a construction loan on the properties in 2015, when construction began on Wall Street Place Phase I. The $5.8 million note was issued by MC Credit, then transferred to CC Rivington, then to Komi Ventures.

Milligan is managing member of Komi Ventures, which was established in April 2017.  Therefore the property transfer announced Friday would be from an entity controlled by Milligan to another entity in which he is also involved.

On Friday, Milligan informed the Redevelopment Agency and the City that Komi has issued a notice of default on Wall Street Opportunity Fund and that a deed-in-lieu property transfer is in the works. Milligan requested that the Agency and City waive their 90-day period to issue an objection, and allow the title transfer to take place as soon as possible.

“Given the Deed-in-Lieu transfer would lead to your lawsuit against Wall St Opportunity Fund, LLC being irrelevant I respectfully ask that you to withdraw it prior to the status conference Monday, or at least remove Wall St Opportunity Fund, LLC as a defendant,” Milligan wrote in an email to officials.

The City waived the 90 days for Citibank when it executed a deed-in-lieu on POKO for Wall Street Place Phase I, Milligan wrote, asserting, “Given the precedent for a Poko ‘Lender’ completing a Deed-in-Lieu transfer we expect a similar and speedy process.”

Milligan, in a phone call to NancyOnNorwalk, said that the City could elect to pay the $5.8 million note and acquire the properties.

“Here I am, willing to discuss all the solutions, including selling parts of it, including working with them,” he said. “It’s getting harder and harder and less and less likely to work with {developers John and Todd} McClutchy and Citibank on some of the aspects of the transaction but the main point is why are they picking winners and losers? Why are they favoring one developer and one lender over another? Why are they treating them completely differently?”

Milligan said he shared some of his ideas for the Wall Street area during the discussion Friday in Mayor Harry Rilling’s office.  The meeting was the first time Milligan has spoken to Rilling since the May 31 meeting in which Milligan admits he made misleading statements. When asked if he would close on the properties the following day, he said no, but he had already closed on them, both sides agree.

Rilling did not reply to an email asking for his opinion of the meeting.

Coppola in an email wrote:

“The Agency and City had certain legal rights under the LDA which were violated by virtue of the recent transfer of the Phase II and Phase III properties to an entity controlled by Milligan.  Therefore, the Agency and City filed the subject litigation.  Over the past few weeks, Mr. Milligan keeps trying to argue his case in the press.  The City is not going to further comment in the press regarding the pending litigation, but rather allow these legal claims to be appropriately decided by a court of law.

“In the meantime, representatives from the Agency and City have been continuously listening with an open mind to Mr. Milligan’s many ideas regarding what he believes should be done with the future development of all 3 phases of the POKO project.”


Milligan described the Friday afternoon meeting in an e-mail to NancyOnNorwalk:

“Laoise & Brian were measured and results oriented. … The meeting was scheduled by Mario ‘to explain the steps I needed to take to become approved as Redeveloper for Phase II’. Nobody was present from the Redevelopment Agency. Page 75 of the LDA states ‘The granting or withholding of such consent (of development rights) shall be within the Agency’s sole discretion, except that the Agency may not act arbitrarily, capriciously, in a discriminatory manner, or otherwise in contravention of law.’”

He called it “ironic” that all parties weren’t present, referring to a statement made last month by Rilling:

“We have always been and continue to be willing to sit down and discuss this development with him, but Mr. Milligan needs to agree to that meeting with all parties present. Instead, he insists on having multiple side conversations with city employees, which is counterproductive to moving this project forward.”



The Connecticut Secretary of State’s website lists Milligan as managing member of Komi Ventures, but OpenCorporates.com, ctcompanygo.com and Bizopedia.com list Marc J. Grenier as the agent. Cross references indicate that this is the same Marc Grenier who serves as an attorney to the Redevelopment Agency.

Grenier did not reply to an email asking about his involvement. Coppola did not reply to a follow-up email asking about Grenier.

“It is no secret that Marc has been my attorney in past matters. Unfortunately, he is not my attorney currently because he is a good attorney,” Milligan wrote in an email. “He is also not agent for Komi. CT Secretary of State has up to date info.”


Redevelopment responds to Milligan

The Redevelopment Agency on Friday formally requested information from Milligan, in response to his offer to build “POKO Phase II.”

Milligan’s firm must show it has the “necessary development experience and financial capacity to complete the development as intended,” Sheehan wrote, further explaining that “the public parties are particularly concerned with the qualifications and identity of the Redeveloper, including its members, shareholders and/or investors, with whom the public parties contemplate doing business with and upon whom they will ultimately rely on to undertake the development obligations.”

That and other information is requested to be provided in 90 days.

“He is asking for 90 days to review that, I am thinking this seems really complicated,” Milligan said in a phone call to NancyOnNorwalk. “Eventually they will see that but in the meantime it’s going to slow us down. Let’s talk about the end result, what we want to end up with and then we can work through some of that other stuff.”

Sheehan’s letter was delivered to Milligan in a 4:57 p.m. email. Milligan is expected in court at 9 a.m. Monday.

“The Agency, when considering the transfer of development rights is required to consider the LDA and the approved CMSP {Conceptual Master Site Plan},” Sheehan wrote, explaining that scrutiny about credentials “is expected in any public/private transaction.”

The Agency has a third party consultant to “take into account the good character and reputation” of Wall Street Opportunity Fund, “ensuring that no individual involved with Wall Street or the entity have any felony convictions or are legally prohibited from contracting with any municipality.”

Milligan speaks of buying Phase II but has properties that are in Phase III. Sheehan’s letter details the expectations:


Phase II Improvements

  • Parking Garage: 276 spaces of which 88 are dedicated to public parking
  • Residential Units: 96 Units of which 20% are deemed affordable by the City of Norwalk
  • Retail: 7,276 square feet of ground floor retail with the principal facade facing the street
  • Live/ Work Space: 9,445 square feet of live / work space or other allowable zoning use
  • Recreational Space: Occupant accessible roof top garden


Phase III Improvements

  • Parking Garage: 337 parking spaces of which 60 are dedicated to public parking assuming the other phases achieved the intended number of public parking spaces
  • Residential Units: 173 units of which 20% are deemed affordable by the City of Norwalk
  • Retail: 14,607 square feet of ground floor retail with principal facade facing the street
  • Live/ Work Space: 12,957 square feet of live / work space or other allowable zoning use
  • Recreational Space: Occupant accessible roof top garden


Wall Street Opportunity Fund will need show its “experience related to other public/private development projects” and in providing housing, and its ability to meet the 20 percent affordable housing requirement, Sheehan wrote, further explaining that Milligan’s company will need to provide parking plans prepared by a consultant.

Milligan said he’d provide the financial details requested, when the time comes.

He continued, “When the time comes I plan to go through the necessary approval and vetting process that everyone else would.”

In an email, Milligan said, “​I have been involved in building quite a few things. That is not what I want to discuss at this point in time though. Building is not my favorite thing to do and there are people that are better at it than me. Smaller stuff and renovations I can handle in house. Bigger I prefer to hire or partner with an expert builder.”

“McClutchy might be building both of these. Maybe, I don’t know. I doubt it,” he said.

There’s no viable plans for any of the phases and he doesn’t think city residents want them, he said, asserting that a complicated process delays a healthy discussion.

“I think everyone agrees Phase I should get solved first. Especially since you might need parts of Phase II to solve Phase I,” Milligan said. “Let’s not limit our options for Phase I by running fast forward on Phase II.”

The processes will run parallel, with the deed-in-lieu working forward and then a response to Sheehan’s letter and the vetting process, he said.



13 responses to “Milligan, City officials meet; Milligan claims transfer negates lawsuit”

  1. Jason Milligan

    Deed in lieu by the “Lender” (Komi Ventures) is a permitted transfer of the LDA property.

    Komi would then be in the same position on phase II as Citibank is on phase I. Both “Lenders” would be what the LDA calls a “permitted transferree”. Any potential redeveloper or future “transferee” would have to go through the Redevelopment Agency vetting process.

    It would be great “all parties” could get to work on solutions instead of lengthy legal battles. The legal fight will not help finish the Tyvek Temple any sooner. It will guarantee the opposite.

  2. Lisa Brinton Thomson

    Sadly, while the mayor is out doing his Saturday ‘campaign walks’ the real issues that impact Norwalk residents go unresolved. Tear up the outdated LDA and start over!!!! That’s what I would do! Residents and local businesses deserve it!

  3. Rick

    Its ok Lisa the whole deal with Manressa fell apart no park no play ground no marina no bird brain ideas. no votes as it were last election the deal fell apart.

    They wont sell the power station and all that was said all that was spent was simply pointed out a year ago. Once a power station it will always be on the grid.


    Our mayor is chasing votes in a city that has memory loss and dreams that are unrealistic that work for the Democrats.

    Fitzgerald & Halliday made some more money on the city, gave us a study any first grader in Norwalk could of produced with the net.Long time polluters gave money for the study matching city funds , they probably are also connected to city hall as well.

    Long Island has to do all the power stations and Norwalk is the extension chord. Even more so when all the transmission lines in the state of Ct come back to Norwalk there was a reason for this’

    Its like this deal with Jason. city is using old numbers using old Democrats to push deals that are simply not thought thru.

    A ISO New England 2030 Power System Study on the table for years was ignored city put up money that could of gone to wall st.

    Shame the money spent didn’t go for something else other than votes last term.

    The work Eversource is doing at vets park under the river is not just about the walk bridge.

    Now with this new news for Norwalk what else came up yesterday ?


    Time for Livingston to put away the big wheels and get real, the mall will need attention the city hasn’t even started talking about.

    Jason you have to be what Norwalk needed years ago as it plays out we are seeing why the city needs new leadership the old one isn’t working anymore.

  4. Ziggy

    @Lisa showing her lack of understanding again. Thank god the vast majority of voters saw through her uninformed and overly simplistic rhetoric. Yea – rip up the LDA and you’ll have the city giving away two parking lots for free to private developers. Great idea. Start over with the LDA – what do you think negotiating changes to the LDA means? The City seems to have been on its way to propose that before this immature name calling {…} stepped in. Milligan is like a hyperactive child hopped up on sugar – nonstop pie in the sky ideas – nothing on paper – changing plans by the minute – nothing concrete. If Lisa were Mayor she would have “ripped up the LDA” – given the city’s land to Milligan for free. Talk about taking the easy way out. Propose things that sound good on the surface – reality and best outcome for the city be damned.
    Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comments policy.

  5. Jason Milligan


    The city already gave away the parking lots.

    If not for me where would we be? Citibank and McClutchy have been in discussion with the leaders of Norwalk for well over a year! Where are their “concrete plans” that you are demanding from me. Where is their vision or public outreach? They want more from the city…

    You sound ignorant, and biased. Feel free to contact me if you would like to understand the truth and hear what should happen next. I am willing to talk to anyone in norwalk about this. It is my passion.

    Hopefully once you are informed you can help provide the positve public pressure to solve POKO.

    We are 14 years into this project! I am definitely not the problem! I have been involved as an owner for exactly 1 month and I have already had a positive impact.

    I am open to multiple solutions and willing to work with anyone to get there. I just require full engagement and to work with a sense of urgency.

  6. cc-rider

    Well said Jason. This sort of common sense does not seem to exist in this town.

  7. Rick

    so out of 53,244 voters in the city over 14,000 voted for mayor candidates

    vast majority of voters took the day off Norwalk is full of renters and those who could care less what happens in the city they pay rent not taxes.

    Most cars today have plates from places like Florida with Norwalk addresses whats that suggest?

    Most of us have seen what the RDA does with property Ill take my chances with Jason the mayor we elected lied to us sold us out took us for a ride.

    reality and best outcome for the city be damned hasn’t happened for years for wall st, and wont happen with this crew we have playing with the elderly still left in the city, pray on old timers in the city is a pastime

    its ok to make a mistake or misunderstand or not come thru with election promises but now it seems every day its something.

    your people keep it up and Jason will get things for free and it wont be from Lisa.

    Laoise & Brian sounds so comical non of us have can have respect for them they did a horrible job with us and others like us and were never voted for them. The more we read the less capacity they have to work issues thru for the taxpayers.


  8. Non Partisan

    Appears to me this is all about preserving the 20% affordable housing component.

    Bring the 20% to zero, ( and Norwalk is still in compliance with state law) and I’m sure there is enough money in the development to compensate the city for the money they have into the project.

    And the end result will be a growth of the grand list

  9. Lisa Brinton Thomson

    @ Ziggy – Really, I’d give away the land? Nice try. Perhaps you are confusing me with previous mayoral administrations. Some deals were warranted, some not. For example, small parcels like Smith Street were warranted for Head of the Harbor (a nice project), but I’ve repeatedly gone on the record about not ‘giving away’ the Main Street parking lot. Check before you speak 🙂 I have no idea how the city let the Belden parking lot get away, given the decades of complaints about space. Asleep at the wheel, I suppose. I could go on…

    Unfortunately, there’s no leadership or political will to fix P&Z or Redevelopment, or the myriad of appointed boards and agencies, so that Norwalk could ‘execute’ land use deals with developers in a timely fashion. Nor are there measures to protect residential neighborhoods from prison halfway houses or commercial nursing homes.

    One thing that could streamline our operations is charter revision, but this mayor demonstrated his form of fixing the charter was giving himself a four year term. This, along with his fake reorganization, which really seems to be about pay raises for his staff. And as for giveaways, the latest brainchild is to give $15 m of yours and my tax dollars to ‘hand-picked’ winners in the new Innovation District. Geez, that’s not rife for future scandal. The sad fact is this mayor campaigned on land use reform 5+ years ago and has done NOTHING.

    I’m pro smart development and believe Norwalk needs to be way easier to do business with, but I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t try to negotiate complicated real estate deals on my own, with part time city legal council that have no vested interest in the success of this city, other than filing or settling lawsuits. City Negotiations need to be 1) in the interest of taxpayers 2) with real estate finance experts representing taxpayers and 3) allowing developers a reasonable profit for the risks they take. However, this Poko deal, based on what little we know, after 5 years under Harry’s watch is that it has evolved into a ‘pay to play.’ He is ‘playing’ and Norwalk citizens are ‘paying.’

  10. Bill Nightingale

    Non Partisan: it is actually 40% affordable under POKO

    As far as giving away the parking lot that was done with the LDA which was about the dumbest deal the city could ever have signed off on thanks to the Redevelopment Agency. The parking lot is not going to be recovered.

    That is water under the bridge now. It all needs to be turned over to private development and Redevelopment Agency needs to be abolished.

  11. Bill Nightingale

    And what a joke…Sheehan explaining scrutiny of credentials! From the number one blunder head when it came to scrutiny of POKO. From the Redevelopment Agency that deliberately removed a loan default notice letter from a public information packet on POKO. POKO would NEVER has passed scrutiny with any private business but it sure did with the Redevelopment Agency..

    And who is Sheehan to say they must show experience in providing housing (and pretty sure he means affordable housing). Who elected him for that mandate?

  12. Bill Nightingale

    This business of Marc Grenier being affiliated with Milligan really needs to be investigated and explained. Is this yet another Redevelopment Agency conflict of interest? ….or worse?

  13. Rick

    With all that is said another 40 units and a floor on water st for Rich makes us all wonder when the water fire police and others all come to the table and say its ok we have enough resources to build more crap.

    This happens all the time in Norwalk keep our eye on Jason while the city slides in another deal that will only bite us in the end.

    With the famous attorney who screws the city daily guess there is no will to fix the P&Z or Redevelopment , where are our two mayors?

    Time to look at vets park according to Susan, but only after the fest no sense in making anyone weary of the contamination they say is there.

    For now just stay away from the puddles with a blue or green sheen?

    kids splashing dogs drinking is ok its not an issue yet to use caution.

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