NORWALK, Conn. – Raising an intersection is now part of the ambitious plans to reconstruct a South Norwalk housing project.
Interested? You can see the updated plans for Washington Village – including the latest ideas for dealing with the floodplain – as well as the latest design options for Ryan Park during an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. today (Wednesday, May 1) at the South Norwalk Community Center, 98 South Main St. Public comment is invited at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a hearing at Side by Side Charter School, 10 Chestnut St.
Planners are currently thinking of raising the intersection of Raymond and Day Streets “enough so it is above the base flood elevation,” Steven Heikin of Icon Architecture told members of the Common Council Planning Committee recently. “It’s going to be at 12 (feet) and it’s sloped down, away from intersection, so there is a dry land path to safety.”
The land around it will not be altered height-wise, he said. Plans to put about 260 parking spaces a half-grade below level have also shifted, he said. While the garages are still planned to be below the housing units, the spaces will be at grade level, “so these garages don’t become bathtubs that are flooded,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done to make that all come out, but that’s the current thinking,” he said.
That means that the price tag for the project has gone up. While it was estimated to be $80-87 million in December, it is now estimated to be $106 million, Eva Erlich of Trinity Financial said. That doesn’t include raising the intersection, Gayle Epp of EJP Consulting said.
Epp predicts success getting the funding.
“We’re just at the beginning of finding money to support this,” she said. “We actually believe there’s pretty strong support for funding of phase 1 with the disaster funding that’s out there now. Because you have gone so far in the planning process, you have designs, you have a cleared site that is ready to go, I think the state is very attracted to the notion that you can get this into the ground quickly.”
The city is applying for up to $30 million under HUD’s (the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s) Choice Neighborhoods program. A draft plan has been submitted; a final transformation plan is due by the end of June.
There are 273 units planned in the mixed-income development, as well as a community center, a resource center and substantial open space, planners said. That includes 163 public housing units.
“We’re looking at transforming the entire experience for those who are living down there and people will be attracted to the new neighborhood,” Epp said.
Raising the buildings more to accommodate less flood-prone garages means “a nice opportunity to have raised stoops,” Heiken said.
“In this case, necessity is the mother of invention,” he said.
Stoops are part of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, as they are thought to encourage people to watch their own neighborhood.
That is also part of the thinking behind a new street to divide the existing “super block,” Epp said.
“This is one of the things to put eyes on the street, to put everybody’s doors on the street, like a real neighborhood, so they can sit on front porch and watch the street,” she said.
But, Heiken said, “We need a lot more work on figuring out how to get the water off the site as a whole. Raising the intersection will impact Ryan Park, whether it’s infill or whatever. We have not figured it out yet.”
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