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Milligan scoops up My Three Sons, El Dorado Club

Wall Street area real estate mogul Jason Milligan poses atop My Three Sons these week. (Contributed)

Jason Milligan said this photo illustrates his plan for 64 Wall St., the My Three Sons building: a hotel on the back. The front would continue, at least for a while, in an entertainment function.

NORWALK, Conn. — Embattled real estate broker Jason Milligan has had, in his words, “a big week.”

Milligan bought the David Harvey Jewelers building, the defunct El Dorado Club and My Three Sons.

All of the purchases were recorded Wednesday, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said. “I believe he is now the WIZARD OF WALL STREET,” McQuaid wrote.

Milligan said he now owns nearly 40 properties in Norwalk Center, including condominiums. He’s got property on all sides of the development he’s waged war with, Wall Street Place – or “POKO,” in common terms. The half-built building he calls “The Tyvek Temple.”

His purchase of the former Leonard Street municipal lot at 23 Isaacs in 2018 landed him in a legal imbroglio, as the City and Redevelopment Agency sued him with charges that include unfair trades practices and interfering with POKO, creating damages to the city.

The current plan for Wall Street Place, commonly called “POKO.”

After the Common Council approved the new plan for POKO in July, Milligan charged that Wall Street Place phase I “will not get its crucial tax credits whilst litigation is raging.” He also predicted an “additional $1million in legal fees and all before the ultimate trial, which will likely be appealed regardless of the outcome.”

“The public parties disagree with Mr. Milligan’s estimate of legal fees and other comments regarding how he believes the case will proceed,” Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola said, in July.

Jason Milligan atop the former El Dorado nightclub. He paid to paint the building last year, when he didn’t own it. (Contributed)

Milligan’s purchase of My Three Sons includes the first floor and development rights, he said. The property at 64 Wall St.#1 has been owned by Petrini Family Investments LLC for ages; the City website is unclear on when the family acquired it.  It was built in 1928 and is appraised at $1,635,750. Milligan said he paid $2,087,500.

Jerry and Jason Petrini did not return phone calls from NancyOnNorwalk.

“Jerry is staying quiet as we discuss certain things,” Milligan said. “There may be some reincarnation coming soon and you will hear about it.”

The “reincarnation” would be a COVID-friendly concept in the short term. “I/he would rather not say yet. We are discussing lots of options,” he said. “Meaning that is a big space and there are lots of ways to use in in a similar way to past uses.”

“But my ultimate plan is a hotel for the back portion,” Milligan said Tuesday. “…I have just started working with my architect on actual plans and I had a nice call with my attorney and Steve Kleppin today.”

Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin confirmed that Milligan had spoken to him about a hotel there. “The use is permitted in the zone,” Kleppin said.

Milligan said he has a hotel partner lined up for the project.

“It will likely be an extended stay hotel for now. The area needs a hotel to reach its potential but probably cannot support all daily rentals. There are a large number of people looking for flexibility given the current climate,” he said.

The hotel would be on the back half of the property, and the “front half can/will remain open during construction,” Milligan explained.

Hotel patrons would get a view of the Yankee Doodle Garage on one side and on the opposite side, a view of the mixed-use development Milligan loathes.

El Dorado, located at 26 Isaacs St., is right next to the Tyvek Temple and backs up to Milligan’s properties at 83 and 97 Wall St.

“I have lots of ideas,” Milligan said.

The property is appraised at $1,169,600. Milligan said he paid $1.5 million for it.

Milligan announced his purchase of the former David Harvey Jewelers at 51 Wall St. on Monday. He plans “Some sort of adapted reuse. Mixed use. Some combination of retail, office, residential,” he said.

It’s appraised at $630,369 and Milligan said he paid $500,000 for it.

The jewelers will be liquidating their inventory and “having a big sale for the next 2 months,” he wrote.

Milligan bought My Three Sons under IJ Group OZ LLC, a twist on his longstanding  IJ Group LLC, which owns 67 and 69 Wall St., and 37 North Ave.

Former El Dorado owner John Dias, left; Jason Milligan, right. Dias said in court documents that he didn’t trust Milligan, based on his son’s comments. “I had never met or spoken 1 word to John Dias prior to this morning.” Milligan said Wednesday. “…We are friends now.” (Contributed)

“OZ” stands for Opportunity Zone, Milligan said.

The federal government created an Opportunity Zone Program in 2018, to induce long-term investments in low-income communities. Norwalk Center is in a census tract that as named an Opportunity Zone.

The Common Council recently approved extending Norwalk’s Enterprise Zone into Norwalk Center.

“I can tell you that the possibility of an enterprise zone did not remotely register as a factor in my decision to continue to acquire property in the Wall Street area,” Milligan said.

“Downtown Norwalk is part of the Wall Street/West Avenue Redevelopment plan, and is in a Federal Opportunity Zone,” Wall Street Neighborhood Association Chairwoman Nancy McGuire wrote. “Jason has acquired at least a dozen properties just like the fable about the boy who takes a little red wagons out of the kingdom under the King’s watch. He and his investors have seen the opportunity largely created by the City, state and federal governments and taken it.”

 

‘The City won’t work with him’

Jason Milligan atop the David Harvey Jewlers at 51 Wall St. (Contributed)

Michael McGuire owns 64 Wall St., the offices that face Wall Street. He called Milligan’s purchase of My Three Sons “a good thing.”

“He’s investing a lot of money and energy down here and he understands the real estate markets and what attracts people,” McGuire wrote. “Every property he purchases is improved nearly overnight and put back in service far better than how he found it.  Wall Street needs people and Jason is creating the housing units to meet that need as well as providing innovative business with the innovative spaces.”

McGuire, on Wednesday, continued:

“True he can rub people the wrong way, myself included, but none of us are perfect, however he does make things happen.  Hell, I just showed up at work this morning and he’s already clearing out the first floor of My 3 Sons.  People should note that Jason only purchased the 1st floor of the building.

“Is he buying up too much?  Not by a long shot, there are a lot of properties here and he only owns a small percentage of them.  The real question you may want to explore/research is why the City won’t work with him.  If they did the results for POKO, and Norwalk overall, could be much better than we have now, or could have in the future.”

 

 

Nancy McGuire said:

“It is clear that Norwalk residents have longed for change in Downtown for years.   Despite the City’s botched POKO plan that has taken 17 years to get to an abandoned foundation, Jason’s Opportunity Fund has been the little boy with the red wagon, that has steadily and steadfastly accumulated properties.

“While council members ignored us, a number of our local small business owners attended numerous Town Council meetings to fight against the type of assemblage that is outlined and encouraged by the City’s redevelopment plan.  If you take a close look at the redevelopment plan and the opportunity zone policies, you will see that the tax breaks only benefit large developers.   This is the type of investment that is out of reach for most local stake holders in the Wall Street area, despite the fact that up until now, the Wall Street area was mostly made up of small stakeholders.

“We will indeed see numerous changes in property use over the coming years, and like government subsidized housing that replaces condo and home owners with subsidized tenants, small businesses who own their own buildings will be replaced by tenants who pay rent to wealthy developers who pay little or no taxes.”

 

Mayor Harry Rilling declined to comment. An email sent to all Common Council members generated no replies.

Real estate broker Jason Milligan, in front of a mural on the side of the El Dorado Club. (Contributed)

In voting for the new Wall Street Place plan in July, Council member Tom Livingston (D-District E) said, “I hope that we’ll be able to sit down with Mr. Milligan and be able to work towards a mutually satisfactory resolution of all outstanding issues so that this project and move forward in a timely manner.”

In yellow, properties owned by Jason Milligan, under various LLCs. In orange, Wall Street Place phase I.

On July 27, Livingston explained by email, “My concern and the reason for my comment is that he has stated that he intends to try to hold up the project through litigation, be it the existing litigation, zoning appeals, or otherwise.  I continue to believe that we should see if there is a way to find a mutually satisfactory solution to this litigation so that we can get this project moving forward as soon as possible.”

Milligan has pointed out that POKO’s neighbors would have legal standing to challenge the project in court.

Is he buying any more properties?

“I have multiple offers out there and one additional under contract that is set to close by the end of the year,” he wrote. “I am constantly making offers.”

18 comments

Patricia Murphy September 4, 2020 at 6:45 am

Congratulations Jason!
Looking forward to what comes next in your plan to revitalize Wall Street, once a gem in Norwalk. It’s been vacant to long! Love what you did to the former Treasure House building.

DryAsABone September 4, 2020 at 6:56 am

Enterprise zones? The biggest sccam in real estate,ever.
This is a house of cards and will not end well for anyone.
I hope I am wrong.

Scott September 4, 2020 at 7:31 am

I have faith that Jason will do good for Norwalk. His plans sound like he’s interested in making Norwalk great again!

Bryan Meek September 4, 2020 at 9:09 am

If you could sacrifice square footage for frontage in this plan, you should make a wide walk way in the midst of the old department connecting Wall to the YDG. Similar to what we have for the movie theater on North Main connecting Webster lot to it.

@DryAsABone elaborate on real estate scam please? I’ll grant that it is a massive tax shelter, but is that a bad thing? If there is a massive market sell off are we better off rotating that capital into gold or foreign assets? Or in our neglected urban areas?

Christine M. September 4, 2020 at 9:18 am

I was wondering about the improvements I was seeing at My Three Sons the other day! It’s good to have a responsible & conscientious neighbor like Jason.

Jason Milligan September 4, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Thank you all for the support.

Come through the area often. There are lots of improvements coming soon.

Mimi Chang September 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Congrats, Jason Milligan! I look forward to seeing how your creative vision, your energy, and your ability to “listen to” and collaborate with Norwalk small business owners and residents plays out here.

Marc Alan September 4, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Speaking as a business owner in the Isaac Square area, the improvements made by Milligan to our immediate area has been substantial. Prior to purchasing the lot, and turning it into an “Art Park,” it had been a place where people left abandon cars, the trees grown over with weeds, broken bottles and trash making it unsafe to drive through, much less park. He literally paid for El Dorado to be repainted out of his own pocket more than a year ago. As McGuire pointed out, Jason can rub people the wrong way; but I have always contended the real enemy is “Stagnation,” and whether it’s been easy or hard for all parties concern, things are finally moving forward in a tangle way. Imagine if the city and McGuire could find the common ground (pun intended) to actually work together – the progress that would happen for the neighborhood and local businesses?

Bill Dunne September 4, 2020 at 9:35 pm

I know nothing about the fine points, or even the rough points, of these real estate transactions, but a funny thought just popped into my head: Could Jason Milligan be the Donald Trump of Norwalk? The rough and tumble developer with a genius for plowing through Norwalk’s governmental and bureaucratic crud? The guy who actually get things done?

Nancy McGuire September 5, 2020 at 10:43 am

Mr. Dunne, you may not be too far off track in your comments. Fred Trump’s developments in Queens and Brooklyn were mostly tied to city and possibly state tax credit deals. D. Trump expanded their management company to Manhattan and the tax break deals there. If Norwalk residents wonder why he won’t expose his tax returns, I would bet it’s because the Trump organization really benefitted from them. And this is not a party-bias comment. It you are an investor or a developer, these deals are not a problem at all. It’s a perfectly legal, attractive investment choice. While these developments might help the re-gentrification of a neighborhood, they usually create a heavy downstream tax burden. Main Street business and homeowners are stuck with higher taxes to cover it.

On another topic, Marc – there is no shortage of trying. In fact, we had an amazing WSNA meeting last Tuesday evening, and we’ll have another one in late September and plan to invite our city council representatives. (Our last reps never showed up). Here’s a recap: 1) three new restaurants are opening up soon. 2) We are planning a Freese park cleanup later this fall focusing on getting rid of the foliage that blocks the view of the river. 3) We’re hoping to get the City to put the Riverstreet Plaza landscaping plan into their next budget. 4) We have made an appeal to the Parking Authority to waive the parking fees for the winter. 5) We hope to convince the city to put barriers in certain parking spaces to allow restaurants with narrow sidewalks to expand dining outside. They will need this as late as the weather permits in order to survive the winter. 6) Building and business owners and artists are making plans to expand our holiday lights. 7) We have a created a Patronicity site to raise $1,500 more dollars that will be matched by Sustainable CT, a non-profit group. The architectural LED lights will be mounted on the iconic 64 Wall Street facade and controlled by Arc Sound Lighting during special events and Wall Street Theater shows. It’s a small effort to bring more light to the street. We also received a City Facade grant to help with the cost. Here is the link.
https://www.patronicity.com/project/facade_lighting_for_historic_64_wall_street#!/

Marc Alan September 6, 2020 at 7:20 pm

Thanks for updating everyone about WSNA, Nancy. Just to be sure, my comments about Mr Milligan were certainly not to suggest that he was the only one trying to change things in the area; on the contrary, the Wall Street Neighborhood Association has long been at the center of the movement. (I used that word because that’s what it really has been – neighbors, merchants, and property owners moving forward together.) As Jason Milligan, who is a member of WSNA, has said many times, progress is not always comfortable, and lord knows that’s true! But the idea of a boutique hotel? That’s the kind of forward thinking we need to keep pushing ahead. (That – and a train station!!!)

JustaTaxpayer September 7, 2020 at 8:53 pm

I wonder if the plan includes more barber shops and businesses with glass where you can’t see inside from the street. One good thing about Wall Street, since David Harvey’s gone, it’s secure from looting

Sid Welker September 8, 2020 at 10:08 am

Its very good to see someone is being proactive to the downtown Wall Street area after all these years. I say this with all do respect to the Mcguire, Discala,Petrini and other families who I know have put alot of their own time and money into trying their best to no avail due to all of the city hall red tape. But in saying that I wish someone besides Milligan was doing this as I still don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. Maybe its that arrogant smirk on his face in every picture or its just the fact that besides buying buildings we still haven’t seen the “revitalization” but I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even at my age I can still learn that patience is a virtue. Two quick notes: Jason wear a mask, and if OSHA saw you on those roof tops, the Mayor wouldn’t be your only issue. LOL

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