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Norwalk to POKO: You’re in default

Ken Olson of POKO Partners addresses a joint meeting of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the Common Council Planning Committee Thursday in the Norwalk Public Library.

Ken Olson of POKO Partners addresses a joint meeting of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the Common Council Planning Committee in this file photo.

NORWALK, Conn. – POKO Partners has been sent a letter notifying it that it is in default of its agreement with the city regarding the Wall Street Place property, Common Council members said Thursday.

Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said Wednesday that he had not received any indication from POKO that it has obtained construction financing for its Wall Street Place, which was required by Jan. 30 as a condition in the extension to the Land Disposition Agreement granted in August.

After the close of Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting, Planning Committee Chairman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) turned to fellow Council members and said, “Just to let you know, the default letter to POKO went out today.”

Hempstead said the letter was signed by both Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Attorney Marc Grenier.

Council members said two weeks ago that they thought POKO was in default.

On Aug. 13, both the Redevelopment Agency and the Council Planning Committee voted to grant an extension to the 10-year-old Land Disposition Agreement regarding the Wall Street property, which included benchmarks, or deadlines that must be met: POKO was required to show proof of financing within 150 days of the extension.

Although that hasn’t happened, POKO has been behaving like it would be moving ahead.

POKO recently got Zoning Commission approval for a redesign of the project. On Wednesday, Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities Affirmative Action & Contract Compliance Supervisor Alvin Bingham said he had met with a Wall Street developer to make sure that affirmative action would be complied with.

POKO Partners principal Ken Olson has not been responsive to attempts to contact him.

Norwalk Center Task Force Chairwoman Jackie Lightfield said Thursday that this is just a step in the process.

“Poko would have 30 days to cure the default,” Lightfield said in an email. “If they don’t then the city would pursue a breach of contract unraveling the LDA.”

5 comments

Oldtimer February 20, 2015 at 10:40 am

We can only hope this is just a bump in the road and not the end of the project. It could take a long time to find another developer, work out new contracts, and get new construction started. A new developer may come up with a completely different idea as to what should be built at the site.

I remember when there were a lot of single family homes on that property.

Bill February 22, 2015 at 9:40 am

No wonder they can’t get this completed, so many unnecessary regulatory hoops to jump through, like this affirmative action BS. All they do is delay and increase the cost of these developments. Let the market fill this need, not regulation and racial quotas that slow everything down.

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