Two years after announcement, huge Norwalk apartment complex struggles to get city approval

But more than two years after the seven-building development was first proposed, the project is still going through the city’s approval process with no end currently in sight.

Building & Land Technology, a Stamford-based company responsible for more than a dozen commercial and residential properties in Fairfield County, aims to build nearly 1,300 new apartments on a now largely vacant strip of land west of Glover Ave.

Dubbed “North Seven”, the proposed development would be sandwiched between Metro-North’s Danbury line and the Route 7 freeway extension. In addition to apartments, some of the buildings would include ground floor space for retail outlets, cafes or services such as fitness centers.

The scope of the project, which would rank among the largest residential developments in the city’s history if approved, prompted officials to comb through nearly every detail of the sweeping proposal, delaying the development process. ‘approval.

The company initially aimed to break ground on the first phase of the project in 2021. At the time, David Waters, the company’s general counsel, said construction work would begin at the south end of Glover Avenue before move north over several years.

“This project delights us and scares us,” said Louis Schulman, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, during a meeting last fall. “The scale is a bit scary but it contains, I think, a lot of potential impacts for the city if we can get it right. And I think to get it right you have to take our time. .

Since the start of the year, company representatives have appeared before the planning and zoning commission three times to discuss the proposal and dispel skepticism around the project.

Commission members questioned the company on a range of issues, ranging from concerns about potential future traffic problems and access to recreational areas to the character of streetscapes and building facades, which will rise between five and 15 floors.

The result was a protracted back-and-forth between the city and the developer, leading to countless adjustments to a comprehensive master plan that outlines the project’s goals. On Thursday, the company presented the latest designs, which included slightly fewer apartments in total than originally planned.

Waters urged the commission to speed up the approval process. In January, he warned that BLT may have to lay off crews working on the final phase of The Curb, a 700-unit apartment complex on Glover Avenue, if construction ends before the North Seven project receives the green light. to go forward.

“I would like to see if we can get this thing to a scheduled public hearing as soon as possible at this point,” he said. “Based on our schedule, and I know it’s not necessarily yours, but we’re at our wit’s end.”

A public hearing — a crucial step in the city’s approvals process where residents can voice their support or opposition to a project — was not scheduled for North Seven. Steve Kleppin, director of planning and zoning for Norwalk, said it was still too early to know when the hearing might take place.

In the meantime, the developer plans to continue revising its proposal in an effort to gain approval from the commission. Among the details the company is still trying to determine are the exact position of apartment buildings and the size of a park built for residents.

“We still have some homework to do,” Waters said.

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