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POKO’s fate will be decided in July, Norwalk RDA says

NORWALK, Conn. – Expect a decision in July about POKO Partners’ controversial request for an extension on the long-delayed Wall Street Place.

That’s according to Norwalk Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Executive Director Tim Sheehan, who emphasized that, if the extension is granted, Phase I of the mixed-use development should be completed within two years.

“I think there’s been a level of miscommunication or misunderstanding with regard to what he is seeking,” Sheehan said at Tuesday’s RDA meeting. “There are some that are indicating that it’s going to be 10 years before there is any development. Even the developer is indicating that they are only seeking two years, and when you are talking about a project that’s in excess of 100 units of multi-family housing, that time frame from a construction standpoint — from staff perspective — that seemed reasonable, the two-year window.”

POKO Partners managing member Ken Olson has requested an extension of the deadline for completion of the entire project to Nov. 22, 2022. He has requested a deadline extension for Phase I to June 30, 2016.

Sheehan said a joint meeting of the RDA and the Common Council’s Planning Committee will be held next month that will entail “reviewing specific requirements under the LDA (Land Disposition Agreement) and then having a conversation and understanding as to ‘OK, where are we on this?’ Then in July, I think the RDA and Planning Committee will go back to their respective meetings and hopefully have a point of direction that is in unison with one another.”

He did express some skepticism toward POKO’s alleged achievement in putting together the funding for the project.

“We understand the awards that have been made relative to the project,” he said. “I think there are still some outstanding financial commitments to advance this project into construction that at least we haven’t been fully made aware of.”

Sheehan said recently that he had not been notified that POKO had gotten its construction loan, although politicians say the financing is in place.

Sheehan said that, to allay concerns expressed by the public, any extension should include performance thresholds for which the developer should be held accountable. Progress reports from POKO have been sporadic, although they are required under the LDA, he said. If an extension is granted, he would expect a foundation to be built within the year.

“The intent is to get well into construction in 2016, if not completion,” he said.

RDA member Latanya Langley asked if POKO might lose funding if the extension is not granted. Sheehan said he’d look into it.

RDA Chairman Felix Serrano said a joint meeting would allow everyone to air their concerns.

“I think across the board there are issues about the extensions,” he said. “But there’s good points about risk and other things associated with not doing or doing and where can we go and still keep everything moving forward.”

Comments

4 responses to “POKO’s fate will be decided in July, Norwalk RDA says”

  1. Don’t Panic

    And the prediction is:
    Extension will be granted.
    Funding will still be up in the air in two years.
    POKO will be asking for another extension.

    Are we ever going to see property taxes from this parcel?

  2. Michael McGuire

    I would hope the City would undertake an independent third party analysis to see if this project is feasible as currently configured. Armed with that data they can then make prudent decisions.

  3. Suzanne

    Excellent point, Mr. McGuire. This is funny: an extension on an extension. And, nicely timed during the holidays so those that object just might not be around during their summer vacation. Pitiful tactics. Boo!

  4. SMH

    I wonder what happens in 2022 when POKO still sits on a bunch of broken promises? Wow, Talk about a major blunder! Every means possible should be used to pressure POKO to move along – one way or another.

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