On Tuesday, January 16th, the Planning Commission got its first look at the application/drawings for the proposed development on the former transit parking lot near the East Norwalk Train Station. Four buildings, up to six stories high. Only one percent of the proposed square footage (combined) will be restaurant/retail. The proposed restaurant is intended for the roof of the old factory building. The remainder is about 75% residential with 195 proposed units (studio, one BR and two BR). Much of the proposed commercial consists of the existing Pooch Hotel building. This is the meeting where one Planning Commissioner characterized a section of East Avenue as a “ghetto”.
Here is the description of the project, from the Zoning Application:
.#11-17R/#11-17SP/#29-17CAM – 230 East Avenue, LLC –230 East Ave/3 Rowan St/Osborne Av – Proposed amendments to Section 118-700 to permit transit oriented development (TOD) in the Ind#1 zone at the East Norwalk Railroad Station and special permit for 5-6 story, 260,663 sf mixed use development with 195 dwelling units, 40,955 sf office, 2,130 sf restaurant,1,500 sf retail and 15,939 sf Pooch Hotel (existing) in 4 separate buildings
The developer presented verbal testimony that additional retail may be placed at the ground level, approachable from the Rowan Street side, but the APPLICATION that is being considered does not ask for approval.
In order for this development to be approved, the developer is asking to modify the zoning code to designate this single parcel as a TOD zone, which would permit a high-density residential structure in what is otherwise an industrial zone. A TOD designation would also permit the developer to decrease the required amount of parking for the residential units being constructed to 1.4 spaces per unit (instead of the 2 spaces typically required in a regular residential zone).
The zoning language the developer wishes to apply to this ONE PARCEL, is actually the TOD zone designed for the SOUTH NORWALK TRAIN STATION, after years of study and public input on what is an appropriate level of density there, and as part of an overall plan for the area.
East Norwalk is poised to do such a plan with a $125,ooo grant from the state, and as part of the already-underway master planning process. Allowing this text change would effectively cut and paste what was planned for South Norwalk and put it in East Norwalk, regardless of the differences in layout, density, transit capacity, traffic density or historical artifacts in the area.