State Invests $6 Million Around South Norwalk Station, But Will Neighbors Be Left Behind?

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Better streets and sidewalks are heading to the area surrounding South Norwalk Station – all part of a $6 million state investment in the area. Gov. Ned Lamont says attracting young people to Connecticut is key, but will gentrification rob neighbors of their own homes?

On Monday, Lamont touted funding for The Platform Sono, where lofts start at $1,800 a month. Platform developers are getting a seven-year tax break, city officials say, but are also planning 10,000 square feet of retail space, a new plaza and 60 more parking spaces at the train station. South Norwalk.

The governor says developments like these are critical to Connecticut’s economic future.

“Let’s face it. In the last 30 years grandparents moved to Delray [Beach] and the cool kids were going to the Lower East Side,” Lamont said. “And we said, ‘Oh, woe to us.'”

The money comes from Community Challenge Grant, a program that Lamont created to spur development in downtown areas and near transit hubs, especially in “struggling municipalities”.
Norwalk has welcomed the developments. But in other cities, groups like CT169Strong fought proposals for state laws making them easier to build, saying too much density could destroy the character of small towns.

“Hartford has no right to come in and override local zoning and take away property rights,” New Canaan’s Roy Abramowitz told News 12 in May 2021.

Even in South Norwalk, neighbors are worried about gentrification. To balance this, 10% of units in The Platform and The Shirt Factory Lofts next door are considered “affordable”. And a block away, another $1 million is being spent on middle-income housing upgrades — with additional grants earmarked for the MLK Drive and Wall Street corridors.

“The way to do that is to invest in neighborhoods — to help people who have lived there stay there,” said Mayor Harry Rilling (D-Norwalk).

Lamont believes the upscale development will impact surrounding neighborhoods, although he admits they could become more expensive.

“But you also can’t stand in the way of a development that makes so much sense for a city like this,” he said.

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James H. Wright