Proposed Sono Collection commercial center receives zoning approval

By Reece Alvarez

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The Sono Collection, a more than 1 million-square-foot proposed retail shopping center to be built in South Norwalk, has received a critical approval from the city’s zoning commission and may soon have the final permits necessary to break ground on the highly anticipated commercial hub.

The project received unanimous approval from the zoning commission at their June 1 meeting. The approval is the last local government requirement the project will need in advance of receiving city building permits. Only a traffic permit from the Office of State Traffic Authority remains, said Douglas T. Adams, senior director for development for the Chicago-based development agency responsible for the project, General Growth Properties (GGP).

Plans for the project include more than  700,000 square feet of retail comprised of 80 to 100 small shops and restaurants supported by two major anchor tenants, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom department stores.

Plans also include a 150-room boutique hotel as well as significant public spaces and aesthetic additions such as rooftop and sculpture gardens and talk of a seasonal ice rink.

The  shopping center is expected to be built on a 12-acre site off of West Avenue and Interstate I-95.

Pending receipt of the final permits, Adams expects construction to begin later this year. A grand opening could occur as soon 2018 “at the earliest,” according to Robert Jakubik, an associate developer with GGP.

“We thank City Zoning Department staff and the Commissioners that devoted many hours to comprehensively review the project,” Adams said in a statement. “GGP also appreciates the valuable observations and recommendations provided by Norwalk community members, which allowed us to create a project that will work for all of Norwalk.”

Predominant among the concerns voiced by members of the zoning commission were issues regarding traffic. As part of receiving the zoning commission’s approval GGP has agreed to a future traffic study in addition to a previous analysis and has made modifications to traffic signage.

In previous public forums, more than a dozen city residents have spoken highly of the anticipated economic impact the project is expected to have on the area.

The Manhattan urban development consulting firm HR&A Advisors estimates spending during construction would generate a one-time economic output of $801 million in the city and $1.002 billion in the state.

Additionally, the project could support 1,900 construction jobs in the first 3 years at an average salary of $74,000 with an additional 2,500 permanent full-time jobs at an average salary of $41,000. Ongoing operations could also generate $108 million in labor income each year in addition to benefits.

The project is estimated to generate $274 million in spending each year from retail and hotel operations.

Through permitting fees alone the city is expected to reap more than $5 million out of a total $41.2 million in one-time tax revenue to be shared between the city and state.

HR&A estimates ongoing tax revenue generated through state sales tax, state personal income tax from direct and multiplier employment, state room occupancy tax, and city real estate and business/personal property tax will amount to $327 million for the city and state over 15 years.

 

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