June 4, 2020
Norwalk has been undergoing planning for East Norwalk to guide growth and development in and around the East Norwalk train station. The plan is being developed with the help of stakeholders including the public, area businesses, and other city residents and representatives to create a vision for the future, and help guide recommendations for appropriate uses for the land and scale of development in the East Avenue train station area. Below we’ll take a look at some of the proposed recommendations
A New Village District for East Norwalk
One significant recommendation is the creation of a new village district for the area, concentrated on East Avenue. This will require all development to adhere to design guidelines that control building architecture, streetscape, site layout, signage and landscaping . The city would also allow some buildings to have additional height and a moderate increase in the number of residential units, above ground floor commercial spaces, provided they include certain amenities that positively impact the community. Benefits of this include additional revenue for property owners as well as promoting mixed-use development, so residents could live close to commercial and transportation options.
As part of developing the district, the plan proposes putting in place a street and facade improvement program in the areas of Charles Street & Osborne Avenue, north of Fort Point Street, similar to the program used in SoNo.
What Could New Development Look Like?
So what could the new village district look like? The study team put together a rendering and buildout of the corner of East Avenue and Winfield Street to illustrate what is possible. The new regulations could allow slightly taller buildings (1 additional story than currently allowed) in exchange for a large pedestrian plaza with other features such as fountains, public arts, public WIFI and/or public seating, as well as a shared parking lot to the rear of the development. In addition, sidewalks around this parcel could be widened to encourage pedestrians and to make room for possible outdoor dining space.
It is important to note that this plan has no mechanism or recommendation to take anyone’s property or force them to change their current use. The Plan is meant to guide development, if and when change occurs.
Improvements Toward the Norwalk River
In East Norwalk, as you go closer to the Norwalk River, one possible improvement would be to explore the relocation of the DPW garage elsewhere in the City. This site could be used for a variety of other uses, ranging from marine commercial use to open space.
Closer to South Norwalk, the study team suggested the creation of a promenade along Seaview Avenue, connecting the Cove Avenue area to SoNo. The promenade would be another great resource for Norwalkers, with amenities that could be used for recreational and entertainment purposes.
These recommendations will be posted in full in a draft plan and area residents, business owners and others with an interest in the area will have the opportunity to give their feedback to the City. Once put in place, the revitalization of the area around the East Avenue train station will be yet another step toward ensuring that Norwalk is a great place to live, work and play.