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NORWALK — The Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations will host a panel discussion in late September aimed at answering a question on many peoples’ minds: What’s Up with Norwalk’s Wall Street?
“Norwalk’s urban core — the Main and Wall Street area — has been a hot topic lately with various plans, options and opportunities being currently discussed,” the CNNA said in a statement. “Separating the facts from the rumor can be a challenge. Staying up to date on the issues may be difficult. That’s why the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations (CNNA) is hosting ‘What’s Up with Norwalk’s Wall Street?’”
The panel discussion is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24, at Wall Street Theater, 71 Wall St. CNNA’s business meeting is set for 7 p.m. The discussion will follow at 8 p.m. Parking is available at the Yankee Doodle Garage or at the Mechanic Street lot for a flat fee of $1 after 6 p.m., or at 23 Isaacs St. for free, according to the CNNA.
CNNA has invited key stakeholders to present their views and answer questions about the factors supporting growth as well as the challenges ahead.
Panelists include former Norwalk Zoning Commission chairwoman and Norwalk 2.0 founder Jackie Lightfield; Wall Street building owner and businessman Michael McGuire of Austin McGuire Real Estate; commercial real estate developer Jason Milligan; and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Director Timothy Sheehan.
“CNNA expects a robust and open discussion to gain insight into what should — and shouldn’t — happen to revitalize the Wall and Main Street area,” CNNA said.
The panel discussion comes amid passionate debate over the future of the Wall Street-Main Avenue neighborhood, were redevelopment efforts following the 1955 flood have advanced in some areas and stalled elsewhere.
The historic Globe Theater reopened as Wall Street Theater in 2017 after a roughly $12 million renovation. Along upper Smith Street, 102 high-end apartments opened this spring as part of the M.F. DiScala & Co. project Head of the Harbor South.
But public debates continues over whether the city should cede the Main/High Street Lot to DiScala to make space for Head of the Harbor North.
While the Yankee Doodle Garage remains largely open, surface parking in the Wall Street neighborhood was greatly curtailed after the city sold the Isaacs and Leonard streets municipal lots, each for a dollar, to developer POKO Partners, which halted construction on 102 apartments in 2016 amid financing issues.
The project — the first phase of Wall Street Place — remains an unfinished hulk in the former Isaacs Street Lot. The city, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and lender Citibank are working to bring aboard a new developer.
Debate has generally split along whether the city should pursue finishing Wall Street Place as planned, or stand back and allow smaller, in-fill redevelopment to occur. A proposal by Mayor Harry Rilling’s administration to offer tax incentives in the Wall Street/West Avenue area has further fueled the debate.
In the statement announced the Sept. 24 discussion, the CNNA said its mission is to advocate on behalf of Norwalk’s neighborhood associations and groups to promote informed and active participation of citizens in Norwalk’s governing bodies to preserve and enhance the integrity and character of Norwalk’s neighborhoods. The group said it hopes to sponsor more open dialogues throughout the coming year.
For more information or to RSVP for the Sept. 24 discussion, www.norwalkneighborhoods.com or email CNNAconnect@gmail.com.