NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:
No rent for the big boys
Here’s a surprise for you: If a mall is built in Norwalk, it’s likely that the Lord & Taylor or the Macy’s or whatever-huge-department-store-comes-in-as-an-anchor won’t be paying rent. In fact, they’ll be paid by General Growth Properties (GGP), according to urban retail planner Robert Gibbs.
Gibbs was the speaker at a May presentation sponsored by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, which, with GGP knocking on the door, hired Gibbs as a consultant.
“A major department store in a retail mall tends to pay no rent at all,” Gibbs said. “The developer tends to pay the department store to come there. The department stores get a good deal. So they get paid a lot of money, sometimes tens of millions of dollars, to go into the center. Instead of paying rent, they spend their money on advertising and they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising a week. You know, Macy’s every week has a once-in-a-lifetime sale. … They bring people to that mall. About a third of all the customers you see walking in a mall came there because of that department store.”
You therefore can’t build a mall without a major department store, he said. Someone tried it, he said. The so-called “lifestyle centers” did well for two years, then tanked when the department stores wised up and offered better service, he said.
“It’s considered very risky; in fact it’s not financeable to build a regional center without a department store,” Gibbs said.
Deserving to be shocked
U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a stunning defeat Tuesday in a primary loss that former Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) Board member Jack O’Dea described as “getting his clock cleaned.”
O’Dea said he has a saying, a play on a World War II theme, to describe politicians who are “shocked” when they lose an election.
“Only arrogance will sink more ships than loose lips,” O’Dea said.
Babies in the street
The debate over sidewalks raged at a recent Public Works Committee meeting, where the talk concerned the legality of the city sidewalk ordinance and a possible reimbursement system for homeowners who would be required to fix their sidewalks.
Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A) talked, as he often does, of mothers trying to push strollers down broken sidewalks. Republican Common Councilman David McCarthy remarked, not for the first time, that there is no sidewalk in front of his Rowayton home, so, lucky him, he has no problem.
Republican Common Councilwoman Michelle Maggio, who had been waiting for a chance to speak, resorted to snarky sarcasm: “I don’t have a sidewalk, but a lot of my friends do and some of them can’t afford to fix theirs. I think it’s unfair,” she said. “At least if the streets are paved nicely all the babies in strollers will have a nice new ride.”