Toll Brothers brings new Waypointe Pinnacle plan forward
NORWALK, Conn. — Pinnacle at Waypointe is back in front of the Norwalk Zoning Commission with (yet another) modified plan up for approval.
The iPic movie theater and fitness facility are gone. Instead, developers have added 63 apartments to their proposal. The parking garage would be significantly smaller.
Pinnacle, sometimes called the South Block, would be the completion of the Waypointe district, a 22-acre redevelopment area off West Avenue in close proximity to Matthews Park. More than 600 apartments have been built in the complex since 2010, but many retail spaces remain empty.
The South block mixed-use development, planned for the former Loehman’s Plaza, a 4.6-acre lot on West Avenue between Orchard Street and Butler Street, was first presented in 2011. In granting approval in 2014, Zoners had expected an open, free flowing mix of retail, not “just all residential and not these big bulky buildings,” then-Planning Commissioner Nora King, a former Zoning Commissioner, said in 2017 as Pinnacle worked its way to at least its third plan approval, for a plan much different than what had been originally proposed.
That 2017 approval was for:
- 330 apartments
- 22,509 square feet of restaurant space
- 3,602 square feet of office space
- A 23,979 square foot fitness center
- A 42,826 square foot movie theater
- A 942-space parking garage
- A mostly seven story building, with five stories at portions along Butler Street and Quincy Street
The proposal now calls for:
- 393 apartments
- 14,340 square feet of restaurant space
- A 576-parking space garage
- A six-story building
Previous Waypointe projects have been shepherded through the development phase by Belpointe Capital. Toll Brothers bought Pinnacle in December, with Belpointe Capital managing member Paxton Kinol as co-investor. Attorney Jacqueline Kaufman promised a “tweak” to the plan, but said the iPic movie theater and the L.A. Fitness health facility were still expected.
Craig J. Flaherty of Redniss & Mead cited “current market conditions” as the reasons for the reduced retail space and increased residential area, in a Sept. 10 letter to Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin.
“Critical features of the prior plans remain including added on-street parking, wide sidewalks, and a pedestrian street that connects the original Waypointe Block to the Children’s Museum and Matthews park completing the long planned pedestrian plaza connecting from Merwin Street through Butler Street,” Flaherty wrote.
In 2017, Zoners and others accused Kinol of misleading the City in his gaining approval for Waypointe projects.
Pinnacle was initially expected to house a Container Store, a Nordstrom Rack and far less apartments. In 2015, a 16-lane bowling alley was mentioned. In 2017, Kinol said he had LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness competing to rent space.
He had also mentioned Ben & Jerry’s and CKO Kickboxing over the years.
In explaining the challenges with retail, Kinol in 2017 said the Loehman’s Plaza stores went bankrupt. Belpointe had basically bought an empty plaza and “tried to lease it for five years. We brought an application for another shopping center. We couldn’t lease it at any kind of rent that made any financial sense so we added 156 apartments on it and we tried to lease it. We couldn’t lease it and make a project that was economically viable.”
He said, “We don’t make money on the retail. We make money on the residential. And we are doing the retail as something to do for the community and the city to make the place a better place.”
In May 2018, Kinol told NancyOnNorwalk that Pinnacle’s construction would start by the end of the year and said he was actively working with iPic Theaters, although he had described them months earlier as “on the verge of bankruptcy.”
In December, he said the same general contractor was lined up but Toll Brothers “will have control over speed.” The construction drawings were done and “they can have permits and start whenever they choose. It is truly shovel ready. Environmental work restarts on site tomorrow.”
Flaherty’s letter said, “Toll Brothers Apartment Living is the apartment development division of Toll Brothers, Inc., an award-winning Fortune 500 company and the nation’s premier builder of luxury homes. Toll Brothers Apartment Living is the 11th largest multifamily developer in the country with over 21,000 units in its development pipeline or operating. Toll Brothers operates on a regional basis in the markets it is active in and has been developing residential projects in Fairfield and Westchester Counties for approximately 30 years. Toll Brothers Apartment Living currently has a pipeline of 1,632 apartment units in Fairfield and Westchester Counties.”
Zoners consider the proposal Thursday.
DryAsABone September 30, 2020 at 9:25 am
393 apartments. Blame lawn watering for lack of water.
Gordon Tully September 30, 2020 at 10:09 am
Yet another incredibly ugly piece of architecture. And no doubt the usual lousy acoustics, 4 stories of flammable wood without sprinklers. Poor Norwalk!
Jocko Johnson September 30, 2020 at 4:44 pm
So more apartments and less parking?
Waypointe should set the example of how even with a massive parking garage it’s not enough parking.
Before Covid, the parking lot was filled, no spots available during Friday and Saturday nights.
This also was with only 3 businesses actually running…still occupancy to be rented. Who would rent space for a business with no parking.
We don’t need anymore apartments…. In 10-15 these places will all look like dated dumps with the owners putting no money into improvements.
Skyler R September 30, 2020 at 10:47 pm
Does the City have a master plan? What will be the tax revenue generated by this project? What will the project’s call on City services be? What is the mix of apartments? How many students will end up in our public schools?
Shouldn’t someone in City Hall be asking these questions?
TomInEastNorwalk October 1, 2020 at 9:14 am
It would be interesting to know if any of the parties involved have donated to the political campaigns of any of our elected officials or candidates.
Jim October 2, 2020 at 12:26 pm
DryAsABone: yes, lawn watering is the primary culprit. I’d like to see the average water usage per housing unit square footage. No doubt the recent apartments would not be at the top.
Bryan Meek October 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm
@Tom. They donate heavily to the state Democrats. The failed Poko project developer and members of his immediate family give 10s of $1000s
Joe Ruggerio October 3, 2020 at 4:26 pm
@Tom, ask nancy to publish rillings donation list (maybe do a search?).
There you can see who they are and their relationship to rilling, how much was donated and where they live.
Two points to take away:
1. Many lawyers and contractors have each family and extended family contribute the max.
2. Where the donators live, is especially “interesting:…Many do not live in Norwalk…
Hope this helps.