NORWALK, Conn. – The last piece of the West Avenue transformation puzzle was greenlighted Wednesday by the Norwalk Zoning Commission.
The south block of the Waypointe project, the last portion to get zoning approval, is planned to include a luxurious iPic movie theater, The Container Store, a fitness facility and restaurants. Added to the plan by zoning commissioners will be a decorative walkway to visually connect the development to the Stepping Stones Museum for Children and shuttle buses to the South Norwalk train station on the weekend, at least temporarily.
This will all go onto the 4½-acre parcel now known as Loehman’s Plaza, bordered by West Avenue, Orchard Street, Butler Street and Quincy Street. Loehman’s will be replaced by a two-level parking garage, set into a hill, engineer Craig Flaherty said. It will look like a parking lot from the street but there will be a parking level below, he said.
Stark Carpet will be mostly removed and reconstructed into a two-story building, he said. The Gap will remain, Attorney Liz Suchy said.
Some of the discussion revolved around sidewalks, as Commissioner Nora King said wider sidewalks are important to Norwalk’s future. Commissioner Nate Sumpter pressed to get a wider sidewalk on Quincy Street. Paxton Kinol said the only things down there would be the Waypointe offices and the back of a building, making it the least desirable place for pedestrians to walk.
“No one cares more about the sidewalks and the functioning of sidewalks especially,” said project developer Paxton Kinol of Belpointe Capital. “We are bringing another application in front of you that you haven’t seen yet, directly on the other side of the street from the white church, which is where our office is going to be. We are going to be the ones walking on that sidewalk every day and walking up to Waypointe. So we care about it.”
The plan is to pick up and move the brick building at 3 Quincy Street across the street to make it into offices, he said. Waypointe is looking for another use for the church on the corner of Quincy and Butler, and planned to buy 6 Butler St. Thursday, he said. That will be used for parking for the church property, he said.
“We plan to keep going in the same neighborhood and we want everybody to walk up to the restaurants and the retail and the movie theaters,” he said.
Other concerns expressed were about traffic, as there have been delays on Butler Street, commissioners said. Kinol agreed there were issues, which he said he believed could be improved by the planned adjusting of the traffic lights. A turn lane is planned, he said.
A shuttle is planned to take commuters from the Waypointe mid-block and the north block to the South Norwalk train station on weekdays. Commissioner Adam Blank pressed to have a shuttle on weekends. That condition was written into the resolution, on a trial basis of one year to see if there is demand for the service.
Blank is also behind a plan to put decorative pavers on the Butler Street sidewalk to catch the attention of children and inspire walks to Stepping Stones. Flaherty said a good example of such a design is the Walkway to the Sea in Hyannis, Mass. That will be used as an inspirational starting point, he said.
Suchy said the north block of Waypointe, which will include 98 apartments, is under construction and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. The middle block, which was the first part to being construction, has 362 units. There have been 179 certificates of occupancy issued, she said. Of that, 40 percent have been leased and 28 percent are occupied. There are 40 more tenants expected by the end of September, she said.
The east block has approvals for 69 apartments, she said. Demolition on the buildings is expected to begin sometime this year with construction next year, she said.