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Norwalk Development Takes Quiet Steps Forward

NORWALK, Conn. – Ed Williams painted blue lines on Orchard Street on Monday — and not for the first time. "They keep calling it in," the water department employee said, as he marked where the utility lines are located under the pavement. "We're kind of used to it."

Maybe, but the delays on the Waypointe development on West Avenue will end soon, says Paxton Kinol of Belpointe Capital, partner to Stanley M. Seligson Properties in the project. Final construction plans for the "midblock" of Phase 1, which spans from Orchard Street to Merwin Street, will be filed Wednesday. Kinol said asbestos abatement on two West Avenue buildings was done Tuesday. On Wednesday evening, the process continues as plans for Phase 2, otherwise known as 15 Merwin St., are presented to the zoning commission.

Chain-link fencing has been installed around the buildings on Orchard Street, and City Carting is lined up to do the demolition. Although the utilities haven't been shut off on the empty structures, Paxton said it would be done Tuesday or Wednesday. Connecticut Light & Power has good reason for their delay: it has been tied up restoring power for snowstorm victims.

"Right now it doesn't look like things are happening. But all of a sudden one day – you know, once the asbestos abatement is done and the power is disconnected – most of the houses will come down in one day," Kinol said.

The construction documents to be delivered Wednesday are the actual plans for the contractors. Once the city approves them, Waypointe will get a building permit, which Kinol thinks will be in about 60 days. "I would guess that in mid-January we would be able to pull the permits and start putting concrete in the ground," he said.

Phase 2 plans call for 145,951 square feet of mixed-use development with 95 residential units (including 10 workforce units), 11,566 square feet of retail, 1,600 square feet of restaurant space, and 16,686 square feet of storage, including a 151 stall parking garage. This is for the north block, the opposite side of the street where work is currently being done.

While some of the Orchard Street buildings are vacant and boarded up, others are still occupied. A man heading into an apartment at 9 Orchard St. on Monday said he had until Dec. 20 to move out. He said he had just started looking for an apartment, and it was tough because rents are high.

"All the residential tenants have agreed on specific dates to leave, in front of a judge." Kinol said. "We believe that they will honor that. ... Just about all commercial tenants have done the same."

Kinol thought the 507 Café, located at 507 West Ave., had a new home lined up. But Joe Bruno, father of owner Tina Bruno, said she is still negotiating with a potential landlord. She wants to stay nearby because they enjoy their clientele. "It's like the United Nations here," he said. "It's unreal. We all get along; there are no beefs amongst us. It's a blend, and I want to take that when we go."

The El Chipotle Deli is closed and the church next door has a sign in the window telling members to go to 20 Quincy St.

Kinol said Seligson Properties is planning to shoehorn Joe Ancona of Economy Shoe Repair into space occupied by another tenant.

Maria Migliaccio, owner of Sonny's Pizza and Pasta, said she has until Dec. 15. "It's in the works, but there's nothing concrete," she said. "They're still trying to get me to go across the street. I guess it's up to me to say go ahead."

She has another prospect and said she wants to keep Sonny's Pizza a family-style establishment, but she will "tweak it up a little bit." Belen Silva, a Sonny's waitress for five months, will follow her to her new destination. So will loyal customer Luis Estrella, who enjoyed chicken wings and French fries Tuesday.

Both Silva and Estrella are in their early 20s and have been going to Sonny's since they were young children. "Anyplace she goes in Norwalk, I'm going to be here," Estrella said.

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