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Norwalk Celebrates Completed Mixed-income Development On Former Public Housing Site

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Camila Vallejo
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Soundview Landing at 20 Day St., Sept. 20, 2021.

The city of Norwalk on Monday commemorated the third and final phase of Soundview Landing, a new mixed-income apartment complex. Just a few blocks from the South Norwalk train station and the Norwalk River, the five-building complex provides quick access to downtown, overlooks a new community park and offers a glimpse into the future of public housing in the city.

“It’s great for the residents. It’s great for the city. It’s really a game changer,” said state Sen. Bob Duff, who represents Darien and Norwalk.

The site once housed the state’s oldest public housing complex, Washington Village. Built in the 1940s, Washington Village had multiple problems, the last of which was far too drastic to fix. The complex had little to no flood protection and was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“You think about the old Washington Village that flooded time and time again, that was old and decrepit,“ Duff said. “Families couldn’t live there. Kids couldn’t really do their homework. There was heat that wasn’t working all the time, and the problems went on and on and on,” he said.

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Camila Vallejo / Connecticut Public Radio
Gov. Ned Lamont (center) and other city and state officials celebrate the completion of Soundview Landing in Norwalk on Sept. 20, 2021.

But the hope today is that most of those problems are part of the past, Duff said. He was joined by Gov. Ned Lamont and other city and state officials to applaud the new development after more than 10 years in the works.

Soundview Landing, named after the city’s maritime history, was designed with flooding mitigation in mind.

“The thought that this was underwater during Hurricane Sandy and look what we’ve been able to do by raising this park, raising the sidewalks, doing it right,” Lamont said. “Down in Florida you are spending thousands on flood insurance -- you pay if you don’t do it right. But Norwalk does it right.”

Not only does Soundview Landing offer better living conditions, but it also emphasizes affordability. The final 108 units were added for a total of 273 units on-site. That includes a one-for-one replacement of the original 137 public housing apartments.

“Every low-income Washington Village resident was offered a unit in the new development,” said Adam Bovilsky, executive director of the Norwalk Housing Authority.

Of the remaining units, 25% are affordable housing units rented at 60% or 80% area median income. And the other 25% are market rate units that start around $1,900 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Bovilsky said creating income diversity was a top priority.

“When you deconcentrate poverty … it has great outcomes on the families that live there, including economic outcomes, health outcomes and educational outcomes,” Bovilsky said.

The multi-phased project cost nearly $200 million and was funded through several partners, including the state Department of Housing, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and Department of Economic and Community Development.

“A lot of that went into case management of the tenants as they were trying to leave, economic and educational support for those residents and cleaning up flood contamination,” said Bovilsky. “Some of it even went to neighborhood improvements to improve the look and feel of the area beyond these units.”

Bovilsky said Soundview Landing is just the beginning for public housing in Norwalk, with revitalization efforts already underway for other complexes.

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