Quantcast

Opinion: Why Wall Street needs a train station (or, how to keep jobs in Connecticut and solve problems)

Michael McGuire.
Michael McGuire.

Michael McGuire is principal of the Austin McGuire Company, a commercial real estate company located on Wall Street.

How can the City of Norwalk solve its two major problems in Downtown – Duleep’s burnt out building, and POKO’s default with no prospects of finding another developer to take this over?  How can the State attract and retain the jobs and small businesses that will drive our economy forward, particularly in the creative tech sector, all the while alleviating traffic and congestion?

Solution – re-activate the old Wall Street Train Station.  Where a train station goes so go the jobs.

A tech oriented live-work neighborhood will be established in an urban downtown in the Westchester/Southwest Fairfield County area over the next three to seven years simply because the market demands it.  The question is where will it be established?  Here, or in Dobbs Ferry-Irvington, Yonkers, New Rochelle, or Larchmont?

Of all these locations Downtown Norwalk has the best attributes to support such a live-work community, except it doesn’t have a train station.  But that can be rectified.

Other nearby locations may be viable but they all have shortcomings.  Downtown Stamford is expensive and a bit too corporate.  SoNo’s office space is a bit too far from the train station, and the competing interests a bit too entrenched.

Downtown Norwalk is sufficient in size, loaded with character, and ideally located with the Danbury Train Line running right through it.  Downtown Norwalk which is bounded by Route 1 to the north, I-95 to the south, Route 7 to the west and the Norwalk River/Knight Street to the east, has the following stats.

  • 6 million square feet of commercial space broken down as follows:
    • 740,000 square feet of office space (that equals three Merritt 7 office buildings in size)
    • 15 million square feet of retail space
    • 450,000 square feet of industrial space
    • 37 million square feet of multi-family space
  • The lowest retail and office rents on the I-95 corridor
  • Existing entertainment anchors – Garden Cinema and  the revitalized Globe Theater
  • 1,500+ new housing units are being added
  • Existing Pulse Point creates an intermodal transit hub when combined with a Train station
  • A great location for Norwalk Community College to expand into

 

With a train station Downtown Norwalk becomes a small-tech company’s dream location.  Ample space, low rents, quality housing, cool historic neighborhood, access to NYC and attractive to the most important asset – skilled labor.

Locate the station in Duleep’s building which has ready access to the south end of the Wall Street train tunnel which is where a platform was, and should be built.   This saves this beautiful and historic building from certain ruin.  Furthermore, with a train station located a half-block away, developers would be falling over themselves to take over the POKO project.

Biggest Hurdle – Government.  If DOT or MTA are the ultimate arbiters of whether this station is re-activated or not, I am concerned that the bigger-picture of establishing a viable, durable, job-creating, small-business, live-work tech hub in the southwestern Connecticut would be lost.    As such, we need our elected leaders to take a bold stand for Norwalk and leverage the DOT disruption being visited upon us.

In my 35 years as a commercial real estate consultant and valuation professional I’ve rarely seen all the “stars align” anywhere as they are now for downtown Norwalk.   It just needs a train station.  Re-activate it and let the private sector do the rest.   The clock is ticking….

Michael McGuire

Comments

  1. EveT

    If the biggest hurdle is government, is the writer saying we should privatize the train station? If developers were putting up money to make it happen, would it pay off for them? I’m no expert on this kind of public-private partnership, but just asking…

  2. Casey Smith

    Eve – Fairfield just added a train station in the Black Rock section and Bridgeport is looking to add a new station. Those would be the models I would check out for additional information.

  3. The Norwalker

    Why not use the space where the former Pathmark was? It is obvious that that space will never be filled with retail or office businesses. Turn it into a Train/Bus hub.

    It would also give a reason for people to start using the parking under the building and in the parking garage across the street.

  4. Lisa Thomson

    Thanks Mike! Let’s hope the powers that be are reading this 🙂

  5. Lisa Thomson

    Thanks Mike!

  6. Thomas C

    Good idea. The Danbury Branch train passing through Wall Street runs both limited, diesel service directly to Grand Central and transfers at South Norwalk. As well as serving the local, Downtown community, it would alleviate some parking congestion at the East Norwalk Station if -and it’s a big if- someone works to make adequate parking available. The parking situation at East Norwalk now is deplorable with a two year wait list and over-sold by about 35%. The Norwalk Parking Authority’s arrogant advice on the situation is to go park in South Norwalk, a callous comment to anyone coming from the northern reaches of Cranbury and beyond. A station at Wall Street, with track on the west side of the river, avoids traversing the Walk Bridge, which will also help to alleviate that ring of commuter hell about to be put upon us.

  7. The Norwalker

    Also a Bus/Train Hub located in the middle of the city would:

    1. Revitalize Norwalk’s miserable Wheels Bus System.
    2. Make it possible for more people to take the bus to the train to work.

  8. Alan Kibbe

    Who knew a station already existed on Wall Street? Many have wondered why there was no train service to this are. Turns out there was!

    It makes great sense to re-open this stop for the many reasons already mentioned.

    The other question is, why hasn’t the Mall developer insisted on a Metro-North stop at this new project? It would be useful for shoppers, mall employees from other communities, would help with the increase in traffic that the mall will bring, and would make a better connection to SONO.

    1. Alan, I can answer that question about the mall. As I recall that question came up early in the process of General Growth Partners working to get approval for a mall. I recall Doug Adams saying that the Connecticut Department of Transportation has very specific guidelines about where a train station can be located. Adams said that although of course GGP would love having a train stop at the mall, it’s too close to the South Norwalk train station to get approval. The Wall Street train station came up in that context, as not only is the mall close to South Norwalk but it’s close to Wall Street as well. If there was going to be a new train station anywhere it would be at Wall Street but it wasn’t likely to happen, it was said.
      I have heard the idea of reopening the Wall Street train station mentioned over and over again. ConnDOT is not interested, I believe I heard a couple of years ago. They have priorities and a lot of projects, and this would cost $$$, as I recall.
      I checked the NoN interface to see if I could provide you with something more definitive. The Norwalk Center Task Force in April 2014 mentioned reopening the Wall Street train station. Jerry Petrini referred to it as a “long shot,” and State Rep. Chris Perone agreed, saying that of course it would be great. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/04/norwalk-center-task-force-zeroes-in-on-poko-parking/

  9. John Levin

    It’s an interesting idea, and probably a great idea. In any case, this is a worthwhile discussion.

    Thank you Nancy On Norwalk for providing such an excellent platform for sharing ideas and opinions, and for facilitating community discussion!

  10. Lisa Thomson

    Where is the mayor, common council or state reps on this? I appreciate Nancy publishing Mike McGuire’s pressing the case for this – but where are our political advocates?

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments