Tenants moving into the state’s oldest public housing complex will not only be faced with the gleaming accoutrements that come with a multimillion-dollar redevelopment, but also a new name.
Owned by the Norwalk Housing Authority, Washington Village was built in 1941 and sustained flood damage during Hurricane Sandy. The first phase of construction at 13 and 20 Day St. is wrapping up and a new name — Soundview Landing — is already in place.
“We were looking for something that would signify new beginnings,” said Michael Lozano, senior project manager at Boston-based redeveloper Trinity Financial. “We felt, along with the Norwalk Housing Authority and the residents, that the rehabilitation, renovation and rebuilding of Washington Village deserved a new name.”
Soundview Landing was chosen as symbolic of the complex’s views of the Long Island Sound — although it wasn’t the first name floated. The property was briefly known as Skyler Landing, an adaptation of the Dutch moniker “Schuyler,” which means “scholar” and “shelter.”
However, a general sense of confusion over “Skyler” led to the latest name evolution. Lozano indicated that further input from residents — involving polls and door-to-door interviews — led to the eventual adoption of “Soundview.”
“We conducted a pretty extensive polling effort of all the residents at Washington Village,” he said. “Along with the Housing Authority, we had a very good response rate. Residents could also write in their own suggestions, which a pretty significant number did. Soundview Landing ended up receiving the most support, by far.”
Financed by a $19.2 million construction loan from TD Bank and a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative Planning Grant of $30 million to the City of Norwalk, the three-phase, five-year redevelopment involves 273 apartments with up to four-bedroom units. To prevent future storm damage, construction is being coordinated with public infrastructure improvements throughout Norwalk to raise the elevation grade of nearby streets by approximately three feet, which will provide dry egress in the event of another massive storm.
Opening of the 10 units at 13 Day St. was imminent, while the 70-unit building at 20 Day is scheduled to open in August, Lozano said. Phase Two of the project, composed of 85 units in a separate building on the south side of Raymond Street between Day and Water streets, will begin in September, he said.
Phase Three, which will add a 50-unit building along Day Street and a 58-unit building along Water Street, will begin in the fall of 2019, with an eye toward completing the project by the following year, Lozano said.
The new complex, which involved the razing of the existing Washington Village and its 136 apartments, will feature a mix of workforce, public housing and market-rate apartments.
Lozano said that the project involves “no permanent displacement of residents at all. All residents can return to the new Soundview Landing — everyone has a spot.” He noted that some residents have relocated offsite, “but that’s been pretty minimal.”
Dimeo Construction Co., based in Providence, Rhode Island, and with offices in New Haven, was general contractor for Phase One; Lozano said it would likely oversee Phase Two as well, though that has not been finalized.
“This is something that brought together the federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector,” Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling said after a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 28, 2016. “It’s really a pretty unique model and it’s the kind of partnership we need more of if we’re to do these kinds of things the right way. Everyone has been very pleased and very supportive of this project.”