Norwalk ‘mall’ might feature housing

NORWALK, Conn. – A large “mixed use” retail establishment is being discussed for the erstwhile 95/7 site, otherwise known as the allegedly expected “mall,” Norwalk Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Executive Director Tim Sheehan said Tuesday.

Sheehan said that, according to Mayor Harry Rilling, representatives of General Growth Properties (GGP), the new owners of the 95/7 site at the intersection of West Avenue and Interstate 95, have been meeting with city officials to discuss the property.

“One of the issues that has been advancing is the city’s desire to advance the site with a mixed use component on it,” Sheehan said at the RDA meeting. “That has always been what the Redevelopment Agency and the city has put forward as a development plan for that site. There are some constraints to that from a redevelopment standpoint. It’s a relatively small site, it incorporates roughly 12 acres. There are certain impacts associated with integrating mix use into a development project. From a construction standpoint it requires different design. All of those issues need to be assessed at this point by GGP in trying to understand what they can to do to accommodate what we put forward as one of the primary issues.”

The discussions have been ongoing, Sheehan said.

“It’s anticipated that, within a relatively short window of time GGP will have a more formalized plan to present to the city. Hopefully that plan will incorporate some level of mixed use into the project,” he said.

RDA members asked no questions. Sheehan said later that the mixed use development might feature housing or a hotel along with the retail component. It would differ from other Norwalk mixed-use developments, such as Ironworks SoNo, in that it would be much larger, he said.


11 responses to “Norwalk ‘mall’ might feature housing”

  1. Betsy Wrenn

    I am astonished that something so totally discredited as a shopping mall is even being considered. Shopping malls are nothing but a bad joke.

    In 2012, Atlantic Monthly published a serious in-depth analysis of their terrible impact on local economies, called, “The Death of the American Shopping Mall” (link below):


    General Growth Properties is cited for having generated no stock value since 2002, and is the poorest performer of the top four. Hope this helps turn the tide!

  2. Suzanne

    Mr. Sheehan, this is what is wrong with the process and what is wrong with redevelopment in Norwalk:

    “It’s anticipated that, within a relatively short window of time GGP will have a more formalized plan to present to the city. Hopefully that plan will incorporate some level of mixed use into the project,” he said.

    Why are you “hoping” for a mix-use plan and why is this not a requirement of the construction program with the caveat that that is in the best interest of Norwalk and Norwalk residents? When does a resident stay in a hotel, for example, except in times of crisis like a pervasive power outage? Are there more hotel rooms needed in Norwalk for visitors to what, Merritt 7? Why are waiting for a developer to dictate the terms? Why isn’t the citizens of Norwalk’s Redevelopment Agency going to bat for the needs of those citizens/taxpayers? In addition, Betsy’s points are well taken: GGP is not exactly thriving. Is what they propose going to have hefty deadlines with penalties for not fulfilling them so another POKO fiasco does not occur? Has there been any research done by the Redevelopment Agency as to what Norwalk residents really need? Is the Redevelopment Agency consulting the master plan? Twelve acres for this area is a lot of land: it is a poor excuse to say that a mixed-use development could not be realized within those constraints. NYC and, closer to home, Stamford would consider such land largess an absolute gift. This land, then, needs to meet citizens’ criteria, NOT the developers and I think it is up to the Redevelopment Agency to be responsible for that.

  3. Same old Same old

    A mall without the housing is a great use for the location.. The housing mixed use idea is stupid. I don’t think you would get to many normal people that want to live in a mall.

  4. Suzanne

    You are thinking of mall design that would not be comfortable for housing, I expect. There are many “mall” plans that do integrate housing very well. This would consist of maybe two story to five story buildings with shops or stores at street level while housing would be in the upper levels. There is a “strip mall” on Main Avenue that is just like this and appears to be fully occupied. In addition, many people have grown up “just above the shop” all over NY, CT and, to my personal knowledge, San Francisco and Santa Monica. In fact, the location of these places are convenient and desirable (assuming the transportation options are in place.) Your conclusion, then, SOSO, does not seem to be based on the reality of these places: I certainly don’t know what you mean by “normal people.”

  5. Mr Norwalk Ct

    The last thing Norwalk needs is another disaster like the Avalon. Mixed use is so last century. Housing and retail do not make a good mix. I say build the mall and forget about tbe ridiculous idea of housing. Some people may have different opinion, but that’s all it is an opinion.

  6. Suzanne

    Actually, mixed use and the New Urbanism model (which is actually very old) is THIS century while the profitability of the traditional enclosed mall has declined. The height of their success was “20, 30, 40 years ago” according to this article from the National Real Estate Investor site:

    An excerpt:

    “Moreover, developers learned that by employing a few modernizing techniques—the addition of offices and apartments; the incorporation of public spaces—it’s possible to bring regional malls into the 21st century.

    “A regional mall, if it has the right tenant mix and offers value to the consumer, will be successful,” says Greg Lyon, design principal with Nadel Inc., a Los Angeles–based architecture firm. Plus, developers today better understand where and how to add residential, office and hotel components to bring maximum traffic into the center.”

    Notice what these architects and designers are ADDING: residential, office and hotels, in order to be successful.

    The trend nationwide is exactly the opposite of what you are writing, MNC. Not just an opinion!

  7. How does $5 million+ in new tax revenue sound if it is built? By the way folks seem to miss that there is already housing as part of phase 1.

  8. Bill

    Build the mall, we need to expand our grand list, if not, let Suzanne pay the higher taxes herself. Why do we need more housing? Let capitalism work lady, stay out of the free market.

  9. Mr Norwalk Ct

    You may want to do a Google search for
    Mixed use development failures
    It comes up with 15,500,000 hits.
    So it seems the trend of mixed use development is a flop.

  10. srb

    Bill, this isn’t a mere issue of capitalism. 95/7 has huge amounts of State and Fed $$$ invested and therefore are a participant in this project. The area isn’t zoned for a shopping mall so they are required to come before the City- just as someone couldn’t build a 10 story apartment house next to your home if the zoning doesn’t allow it and I presume you support that type of limit. Good strategic thinking requires looking down the road beyond the next grand list. This is a gateway to Norwalk and SONO. It’s incredibly valuable real estate that has been made available through activities led by the City- hardly an example of free market capitalism (BTW today’s Times Square was built with the same City/Private Developer activity)

  11. Suzanne

    MNC, I did do the Google search as suggested. You might have read some of the entries? If not, please note a quick summary I found:

    Some reasons for mixed use failure: not enough housing density near by (not an issue in Norwalk), rent rates too high for retail (development issue that can easily be remediated and has been in a lot of these so-called “failed” developments. Many rates have actually been reworked and lowered and have seen success), wrong mix of retail at street level (again, choices to be made by the City – see below), inadequate traffic estimates (usually too high for the support of the developed businesses), etc.

    Norwalk has the opportunity to avoid what leads to these types of failures to renovations for success. This search does not address the known issue: covered malls with A/C are losing business and are not a good option for contemporary development.

    Hardly a “flop”, MNC. BTW, I got 17,300,000 hits AND I read some of the articles. To do anything else is meaningless.

    As an addendum:

    “What kinds of uses are complementary for mixed use?
    The most common mixed-use projects developed before the recession were retail streetscapes with multifamily housing above. That assumed that all of the residents were going to go downstairs and shop at Chico’s and Coldwater Creek and the Gap. The problem was, how often do you go to the Gap—once a month? Multifamily residents want restaurants, a coffee shop, a grocery store, entertainment, a health club, maybe a local boutique—that’s what creates connectivity.” Urban Land Institute. Fixing Broken Mixed-Use

    Dear Bill, You have simplified a complex problem inaccurately. You might want to read srb, for example, to get the real picture. No one can stand in the way of capitalism simply by making an accurate observation in writing on NON.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments