NORWALK, Conn. – The SoNo neighborhood of Norwalk has been known for its restaurants, shopping and night life. Now, a construction boom is bringing new residences to the area.
The Pearl, a 66-unit development at 99 Washington St., is expected to break ground in a few weeks and open in 2015. Stamford-based F.D. Rich and Co. is building that development.
Spinnaker Real Estate partners is developing an 108-united apartment building at 20 N. Water St. and plans to open it in the spring.
And the 444-unit Waypointe District, at 515 West Ave., less than mile from SoNo, started leasing last year.
Add in some other projects that have opened in the past few years, and it’s clear that SoNo is becoming a residential destination for people of many ages. Singles, young couples, empty-nesters and commuters are seeing the advantages to making South Norwalk their home.
“I think it’s a real upgrade for the neighborhood,’’ said Stephanie Pelletier of the SoNo Design District. “I think people are coming to realize the benefits of living here.”
Revitalization efforts in South Norwalk have been fluid since the early 1980s, beginning with the construction of the Maritime Aquarium. Significant improvements have been made in the area since as well as a number of delays.
One of the draws for residents is commutability. The South Norwalk train station is a short walk away, and train passengers are whisked to Grand Central in a little more than an hour (when there are no delays on the beleaguered Metro-North). Interstate 95 is also a quick hop for commuters who use cars to travel to their jobs.
The charm of SoNo is also in the character of the buildings, many of which are 100 years old or more. “These are the original buildings for retail and restaurants for people to enjoy,’’ Pelletier said. “We want people to enjoy them.”
In December, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling appointed former Mayor Bill Collins as the chairman of the new SoNo Task Force. Its primary goal is to develop improvements to assist merchants. One of Pelletier’s primary roles with the SoNo Design District is to acquire tenants for the retail, office and restaurant space in the neighborhood.
Parking has been one of the biggest hurdles for merchants during the revitalization of the high-density district. But the good news for residents who move into SoNo is that with so many shops and restaurants nearby, a vehicle is not required.
“People can make their homes here and have everything they need within walking distance,’’ Pelletier said.