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Demolition Kicks Off Development Of Norwalk's Wall Street Place

Time to get started. Kenneth Olson, president and CEO of developer POKO Partners, stands outside a former Wall Street bank. Olson and other officials announced demolition and site remediation will begin soon and a new development ready in 30 months. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachen
Kenneth Olson, left, CEO of POKO Partners, talks at a Wednesday press conference announcing demolition will begin at its Wall Street development. Also, from left, Jackie Lightfield, Mayor Harry Rilling, state Sen. Bob Duff and state Rep. Bruce Morris Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

NORWALK, Conn. -- Officials are hailing the announcement of a major step forward of a major residential development planned for the central part of Norwalk.

The demolition of the former Merchants Bank and Trust Company and remediation of the site will begin soon, POKO Partners announced Wednesday morning.

“This is the beginning of the process that will go straight through in the next two, two-and-a-half years, and we will be standing here with a complete building so it is all very exciting for us,” said Kenneth Olson, president and chief executive officer of the developer POKO Partners.

Work will first start inside the former bank, with demolition expected to begin in a few weeks.

The planned $43.5 million development, known as Wall Street Place, will have 101 residential units, of which 40 will be classified as affordable as part of the state’s requirement for its contribution of tax credits. There will also be 16,000 square feet of retail space in the project.

The project, which is the first phase of a three-phase development, is expected to be completed in 30 months, Olson said.

The entire project, including the second and third phases, will be complete within eight years, Olson said.

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling applauded the announcement and praised everyone's work in getting the project under way.

“When people put their heads together and start working together you can get things done,” Rilling said.

The development will take place at the corner of Wall and Isaac streets. Merchants Bank and Trust Company failed in 1991, and the building has been empty since then, Olson said.

The project has been on the drawing board for years and has received extensions in the past from the city.

A six-story and eight-story building will be erected on the site, including the current parking lot.

Some asbestos, but not very much, is in the building, according to Olson. Because of its previous use as a bank, he said there aren't the environmental concerns associated with sites that had industrial uses.

Phase 2 will have 120 units of housing, while Phase 3 could range from 100 to 170 units, Olson said.

State Sen. Bob Duff, D-25th District, pointed out that Wednesday’s plans plus last week’s announcement of a funding arrangement to restore the nearby Wall Street Theater will help to restore the area.

“We know this will be a game changer for this part of our city,” he said.

Last Thursday, Connecticut Light & Power announced it will purchase the nearby Wall Street Theater’s historic tax credits in exchange for $1.81 million to renovate the venue. In addition to the $1.81 million provided through the purchase of the tax credits, the state has provided a $1.5 million grant toward the total estimated $7.8 million cost of the theater project.

State Rep. Bruce Morris, D-140th District, and Jackie Lightfield of Norwalk 2.0 also attended the announcement.

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