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Updated Plans for the First Phase of North Seven Development Unveiled

A look at the proposed Phase 1 of the North Seven development.

The Norwalk Planning and Zoning Commission got its first look at plans for a  12-story, mixed-use building with 266 apartments, a town square, and a dog park across from the Merritt 7 train station on Glover Avenue. 

While the commission opened the public hearing, it did not vote on the plans on Wednesday evening as it was still waiting for a report from the project’s peer review architect. 

Three members of the public spoke, mainly questioning the potential impact of traffic from the development. 

“What is the impact going to be when all of the buildings are done?” asked resident Brett Carey, who lives off of Oakwood Avenue near the project. “Right now, traffic coming down, especially with that extra garage entrance coming down Oakwood, I believe that will create significant traffic, so just wondering what the traffic impact will be with all the buildings.”

Resident Joanne Horvath reminded the commission of the proposed Route 7–15 project that will cause more construction and traffic-related issues in the area. 

“If BLT plans to build a 12-story apartment complex at the south end of Glover Avenue, this is going to add more congestion to this already overburdened traffic area,” she said. “And this is not counting the additional projects that are going up in the area.”

Resident Joann Ciavarelli raised concerns about the intersection of Glover and Grist Mill, which can be crowded. 

“It’s a long light and inevitably people are running red lights like crazy at certain times of the day,” she said. “That connector gets backed up and it’s a bottleneck—there’s nowhere to go. I can’t imagine with another 200-plus cars what the impact is going to be.”

A look at the difference in the approved master plan for Phase 1 and the updated site plan

A Look at the Changes

The proposed development is part of an approved North Seven master plan that calls for more than 1,200 new apartments across seven buildings, along with retail space and additional amenities, such as a park. 

However, the plans for Phase 1 have been updated, David Waters, the attorney for the developer Building and Land Technology, explained.

What had been two separate buildings on the master plan—1.1 and 1.2—the updated proposal combines them into one building  that ranges from five to 12 stories, with 266 residential units, along with an accessory retail building, a dog park, and a town square. The building also includes some amenities for its residents, such as a swimming pool. 

The number of units has decreased slightly from 273, and the amount of retail space in this phase has also been reduced from 17,166 to 8,492. 

Waters said combining the buildings allowed for more space for the town square and the addition of the dog park. Phase 1 now has a total of 18,000 square feet overall in the town square area.

“And in addition to that, we now have an additional green space that did not exist because it’s where building 1.2 was located. And that’s approximately 23,000 square feet of new green space,” he said.

Waters said that they decided to add a dog park because they’d seen how popular pets are in their developments in Stamford and at the Curb in Norwalk, which is farther up the road on Glover. 

“The pet population is almost as big as the human population,” he said. “It’s pretty astounding.”

The planned retail space would aim to be a complement to the area, he said.

“The pavilion building has retail space in it very much contemplated to be a coffee shop type destination, particularly for people that are either at the dog park or that are commuters,” he said, adding that there would also be bathrooms. 

The plans also include 35% of green roofs for the building, and Waters noted that they’re using the same brick pavers and patterns that the state used in its redo of the Merritt 7 train station so the street looks consistent. 

“The green roofs that are down here create interest, they create cooling effects,” he said. “They’re part of what you’ve recognized as what you wish to have on these buildings. And so we have proposed them in an area where people can actually see them.”

A look at the proposed Phase 1 of North Seven in Attorney David Waters’ presentation.

Some Remaining Questions

When the master plan was approved, some conditions were placed on the developer that Waters said are in the process of being met—mostly due to circumstances beyond their control.

For example, the developer was required to apply to the state Department of Transportation to add a sidewalk that would stretch from the intersection of Glover Avenue and Grist Mill Road down to Main Avenue.

“We did, in fact, as required, make that application last July to DOT,” he said. “TMP was copied at the time that we did it and is well-aware that that application was made. DOT at this point has not given a yay or nay on whether they would allow that to be done at this time.”

The City’s Transportation, Mobility, and Parking Department also asked the builders to consider adding a sidewalk from Oakwood up Glover, toward the One Glover apartment complex.

“We don’t disagree at all. But we have no ability to provide for it because there aren’t sufficient rights within the right of way to be able to install it—It requires the acquisition of rights from private property owners that aren’t us,” he said.

The solution Waters proposed is that if the city “can acquire the rights that are necessary to install a sidewalk in that location, we will install that sidewalk within a year after those rights are provided to us.” That means they’d paid the cost of the sidewalk construction, but not the acquisition of property.  

While the members of the public questioned the amount of traffic the proposed building was going to bring, the applicant’s traffic engineer, Mark Vertucci, said that the site had “excellent access” to main roads, such as Route 7 and the Merritt Parkway, and “excellent transit access with the Metro North station right across the street.”

“The findings of our study, the proposed residential development will not have a significant impact to the traffic operations in the immediate study area,” he said. 

Next Steps

The plan is for the applicant to come back before the commission, ideally at its March 6 meeting, with the comments from the peer-review architect. Members of the public can also continue to comment at that time.

The proposed view of Glover Avenue after Phase 1 of the North Seven development.

Comments

8 responses to “Updated Plans for the First Phase of North Seven Development Unveiled”

  1. Bryan Meek

    BLT owns Bob Duff’s real estate firm. If you would ever report on this it might help people understand why this monstrosity is even being considered. We are one drought away from a true disaster.

    1. Claire Schoen

      @Bryan – Bob Duff works for Sotheby’s International Real Estate, a subsidiary of publicly-held Anywhere Real Estate, a multi-billion dollar company based in Madison, NJ.
      To suggest that Duff’s company is owned by BLT is irresponsible.
      If you think there is a shady connection here, please do the research and submit it to us, [email protected]
      As you know, we are running as fast as we can to keep our readers informed.

      1. Bryan Meek

        Ok Claire. Google isn’t that difficult.

        Here’s the original connection.

        https://www.thehour.com/business/article/Norwalk-s-BLT-takes-stake-in-William-Pitt-8273481.php

        And then there is this little joint venture still going on…

        https://www.williampitt.com/affinity-blt/

        Do you need me to dig through the SOTS business filings?

      2. John O’Neill

        Claire is correct…I am certainly not a Bob Duff Fan (July 24, 2020 iced it for me)…But, his antagonists are better served sticking to
        well thought out criticisms, which there are many…

  2. William Morton

    This is a great spot for more development, direct access to the Super 7 and with the right new retail the residents would not nave to travel far to shop. Grover Ave can handle more traffic, even with the existing apartments the road is hardly used.

  3. Bryan Meek

    @WM. You might want to get your facts straight. First of all it’s Glover Ave, but I’ll excuse the typo.

    6 years ago, Duff hatched a plan for $11 million in needed roadway improvements, no doubt in anticipation of his bosses wanting to shoehorn 1300 apartments into the corridor.

    https://www.senatedems.ct.gov/duff-180216b

    Factoring inflation in and I’m sure it’s a cool $20 million now and that doesn’t include fixing the lights at Walmart or actually connecting Super 7 to the Merritt.

    And only one of the six companies (Factset) are even there anymore.

    The facts are these roadway improvements need to happen BEFORE Duff’s shareholders get their cut of Norwalk’s scalp. Not after. And this sewage collection point needs major overhaul according to WPCA.

  4. walter o’reilly

    This area has always been slated for large development. For current residents living in multi-unit/mulit-family housing to complain is a bit hypocritical. It’s the typical, “it’s okay for me, but not anyone else” mentality. If you want a less congested area it’s time to move on to a house in a rural area and step out of the way of progress.

  5. Michael Ward

    How many more apartments can you shove down our throat before we choke on all the traffic congestion and general overcrowding. ENOUGH already please, I beg you.

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