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A Call for Progress on SoNo Development

Allan Raymond, a reader of The Daily Norwalk, has strong feelings about a development proposed by Spinnaker Real Estate Partners LLC , for the Reed-Putnam area off West Avenue and Interstate 95. Originally designed for office space, the development was reshaped during the recession. Called a "gateway entrance for Norwalk," the proposal now calls for 600,000 square feet of Class A office space, 300 residential units, 125,000 square feet of retail space and a 150-room hotel.

Raymond wrote this letter in response to a series of articles published in The Hour newspaper about an extension given to the Sono 95/7 development by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

I am appalled that the city would even think about giving Spinnaker an extension. It seems that in the past few years Spinnaker has invested some money in the Bridgeport area and just a short time later Spinnaker (and some other investors) bought the Clairol property in Stamford and are now developing that site. There is no money problem there. So if you ask me all this about "the poor economy" is all smoke and mirrors. What about the money they're making selling the fill from the site down on West Avenue?

That's another thing: Is the city getting the taxes that it should for them to be running a business on the site? Redevelopment says Spinnaker has not missed any timelines. Then how come it keeps coming back for extensions (this is the third one) — and I don't want to hear, "It's the economy." It has spent money in Bridgeport and Stamford and made money in Norwalk. But it hasn't spent any money in Norwalk.

Spinnaker has made money off our backs, and all we have to show for it is a blighted piece of unused property, a hole in the ground.

For years we have put up with this, and it's time our city officials did something about it. We have had to look as this mess long enough, and the city or redevelopment should have some recourse or some loophole to get this project moving forward. How about a nice park — green space? Anything would be better than what is there now.

Look at how many people were put out of work, how much money the city has lost in taxes because of all the homes, and all the businesses that Spinnaker took away from Norwalk? It's time the developers started treating Norwalk better. We need to put more demands on them, and if they don't want to build in Norwalk, someone else will. Norwalk has had to put up with a lot of inconveniences over the years to accommodate the developers — time's up.

The plan was approved years ago — why do the good people of Norwalk have to look at this any longer? If Spinnaker doesn't want to build a high-rise hotel or office complex, that's fine — just build something and give us our town back. I think we should have a moratorium on building until all the projects that have been approved or have permits are started, shovels in the ground. Maybe it could build some nice brownstones facing West Avenue and bring that area back into a new neighborhood. How about some small retail shops or maybe a restaurant — something to revitalize the area?

NO more extensions, NO more excuses — just get the job done!!!

Allan Raymond

What do you think should be done about the stalled development? Leave a comment below.

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