Stamford Advocate: Norwalk’s Waypointe project showing signs of life

belpointe waypointeBelpointe Real Estate was recently featured in the Stamford Advocate for their Waypointe project in Norwalk, CT.  You can read the entire article below or visit: Stamford Advocate – Norwalk’s Waypointe project showing signs of life

Construction of a long-awaited mixed-use project that has been a decade in the waiting has begun in Norwalk with the prospect of attracting 2,000 residents, as well as retailers to fill more than 90,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.Paxton Kinol and Brandon E. Lacoff, principals in Greenwich-based developer Belpointe Real Estate, sitting in a conference room in their office at Loehmann’s Plaza on West Avenue, shared renderings of the Waypointe project, which includes 774 apartments and more than 90,000 square feet in the first two phases on the east side of West Avenue.The city also has approved a third phase on east side of the thoroughfare for 60 apartments and 60,000 square feet of medical office and retail space.Excavation has started on the 10-acre site, which will include two parking garages with 1,025 spaces. Part of the project includes converting the Bigelow Tea warehouse into a three-level parking garage and building 98 apartments around it.The timing is right, Kinol said, commenting that funding sources are finally starting to loosen their purse strings after the recession.”We got financing from Carmel Partners (a San Francisco real estate investment firm). We have a similar philosophy in multi-family apartments,” Kinol said. “This is the most challenging (financial) environment I’ve worked in.”The first phase of the $250 million project will offer 444 apartments and 60,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space in two buildings and should be completed in 24 months, said Kinol, who has been a prime mover in construction of residential complexes in Stamford, including Adams Mill, Eastside Commons, Glenview House, Mill River House, River House and The Metropolitan.Originally planned by Norwalk developer Stanley Seligson, the majority of project was acquired by Belpointe in 2011. Seligson, chairman and chief executive officer of Stanley M. Seligson Properties, remains a participant in the development.Located at Orchard Street and West Avenue, the two-building first phase will feature a pedestrian walkway under a 45-foot-wide arch facing Orchard Street and leading to a large courtyard lined with shops and restaurants with apartments above.”There’s more retail (and restaurant) space in this development than all of South Norwalk combined,” said Kinol, adding that facades of the two buildings have been designed to provide a unique and varied appearance. “We’re trying to pick up more of a New England accent.”Several restaurants, which will offer courtyard seating, are ready to sign leases, he said, touting the easy access of development from throughout the region, making it attractive to retailers and restaurateurs and their customers, as well as tenants, who can expect to pay $2,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.”Norwalk is really the center of Fairfield County when you look at it from the retail perspective. You’ve got the confluence of highways leading you here, and we’re sitting right in the middle of some of the wealthiest towns in the United States,” Kinol said, crediting Seligson for laying the groundwork. “We’re providing an outside shopping experience with really convenient parking. Norwalk is going through a change and becoming a city. We think Waypointe will be a center of life in Fairfield County. You’ll see the entire neighborhood be drastically improved.”Estimating that the annual household income for the tenants will be at least $200,000, he said surrounding businesses will benefit.Waypointe will offer a family-oriented atmosphere, Lacoff said, citing its amenities.”Norwalk has been waiting 20 years for this,” he said.For Seligson, the sight of excavation equipment in action after years of waiting is evidence that he will finally see his plans come to fruition.Seligson purchased 30 properties, patiently assembling them to make the project possible, only to be disappointed when managers of a property development fund pulled its financing six years ago when the recession hit. He later agreed to partner with Belpointe in an effort to line up new financing and start the project.”I feel great. It’s a project that will change Norwalk both physically and psychologically,” Seligson said, commenting that Carmel, with its strong financial footing, and the solid reputations of his business and Belpointe, form a strong team.Commenting that the second phase could start as early as this spring, Seligson said he anticipates developing the third phase on his own, and that some stages of all three phases could be going on concurrently. He expects Norwalk’s Planning and Zoning Commission to review plans for phase two this month.Tad Diesel, Norwalk’s director of marketing and business development, said the city threw its support behind Seligson’s plans, knowing he had chosen a good location. But seeking financing for the project as the nation was entering a recession made it impossible to proceed.”It’s easy to get to,” Diesel said. There’s public transportation. This fulfills a part of the plan for Norwalk’s future. This plan has been studied for more than a decade,” he said, commenting that it adds another level of retail possibilities that Norwalk has been lacking. “This is an indication that the design is right, and the economy is ready.”Newmark Grubb Knight Frank has the task of marketing the retail and restaurant aspects of the development, and it already has sparked interest from some major chains, said Rika Lisslo, a director of the national real estate firm.”This is truly a regional draw,” said Lisslo. “It’s appealing to national retailers that want to be in Fairfield County. Everyone around the country is aware of this project. What’s attractive to retailers is that here you can create critical mass.”Mixed-use projects like Waypointe have been growing in popularity across the country because they provide convenience for apartment dwellers and a nearby source of patrons for merchants and restaurateurs, said Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.”It’s a nice fit on both ends,” Tron said. “For retailers, it gives you a built-in customer base, and for people living there it’s quite convenient.Construction of mixed-use developments in recent years reverses a retail strategy begun more than 50 years ago that clustered stores in shopping centers and malls on the outskirts of a community where available land was plentiful and inexpensive, said Ed McMahon, the Charles E. Fraser chair on sustainable development at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute.The institute has issued a report on emerging trends in real estate and best practices for the past 25 years, said McMahon, a senior resident fellow at the ULI, and mixed-use development in metropolitan areas is now a key strategy.”You had to drive everywhere for everything,” McMahon said. “We’re going back to the model of mixing things. The future is leading to Main Street, town centers and mixed-use development. Strip development is for the last century. We completely over-built those retail strips. Retailers are re-discovering our cities and towns.”

Read more: Belpointe – Norwalk’s Waypointe project showing signs of life

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