NORWALK, Conn. – City and building officials broke ground Monday for a 66-unit apartment complex on Washington Street, one of the key components to the revitalization of South Norwalk.
The SONO Pearl Apartments are scheduled to open in May 2015. The project at 99 Washington St., which is being built by the Stamford-based F.D. Rich Co., will include 154 valet parking spaces and will add to the growing residential development in the area. A 108-unit complex, Ironworks, opened earlier this year on nearby North Water Street. That complex also has more than 200 parking spaces.
“This is a major piece of the revitalization of South Norwalk,’’ Mayor Harry Rilling said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “All of it works together to make South Norwalk a vibrant, thriving community. For a lot of years people in other towns were eating our lunch. We’re bringing South Norwalk back.”
Thomas Rich, president and chief executive officer of F.D. Rich, said the construction company is committed to reinvigorating South Norwalk from a residential and business perspective. The Pearl is the latest addition to its growing portfolio in South Norwalk.
“We’ve been a property owner for six years,’’ Rich said. “We have offices and retail and residential. The economy has been coming out a recession, and we see that South Norwalk is becoming more attractive for tenants. This is a vibrant community with a lot to offer between the restaurants, the shopping, the attractions and the lifestyle.”
New restaurants are also part of the emerging South Norwalk landscape, which also includes the nearby Maritme Aquarium. A movie complex and the South Norwalk train station are within walking distance, as are waterfront walking and jogging trails.
The vision is for apartment residents to frequent the restaurants, retail stores and many nearby attractions without having to drive.
One drawback that has hampered businesses in South Norwalk in the past is the lack of convenient parking. Rich and Rilling believe the additional parking at The Pearl and Ironworks will significantly ease frustration for visitors.
“When we’re finished we’ll have almost 400 parking spaces between the two apartments,’’ Rich said. “That’s a huge plus.”
Before Rilling became mayor, he said that as a member of the Zoning Commission he made it a priority to add more parking. “I fought hard for that,’’ Rilling said. “This is a perfect location. A lot of people are going to be happy about that.”
The Pearl will include studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Rich said the project will provide construction jobs and full-time jobs after the apartments open next year. “It’s an economic driver we can all be proud of,’’ Rich said.
State Sen. Bob Duff, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Chairman Felix Serrano, Norwalk Chamber of Commerce President Ed Musante and the Rev. Holly Adams of United Congregational Church of Norwalk also spoke at the ceremony.
“South Norwalk is on the way back,’’ Rilling said. “There will be lots and lots of people walking our streets. It’s going to be amazing.”
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