|By Robert Koch, The Hour, Norwalk,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 24, 2012--NORWALK -- Buoyed by his success in Stamford, a Fairfield County real-estate developer has proposed a boutique hotel with restaurant and other amenities for 353 Main Ave. in Norwalk.
Since opening at 909 Washington Boulevard in Stamford several years ago, Hotel Zero Degrees has been an "incredible success," according to developer Randy M. Salvatore, who now has put forward plans for a Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk.
"It's just a great niche that we created and, looking around to find another location that we think we could expand that brand to, we came across this location in Norwalk. We believe that Norwalk is under-served by hotels based on the corporation presence," said Salvatore, owner and president of RMS Companies. "We see what worked in Stamford and the success we had and hope to take it to the next level in Norwalk."
The plan, submitted recently to the Norwalk Department of Planning and Zoning, calls for razing the existing building at 353 Main Ave., once home to Trudy Toys, and constructing a three-story boutique hotel with 96 rooms, a full-service restaurant and bar, and 141 parking spaces. The bulk of the parking would be beneath the new structure, according to Hotel Zero Degrees (Norwalk), LLC, the developer and contract purchaser of the property.
The hotel would result in the creation of 20 to 25 part- and full-time jobs. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant would create another 40 to 60 full- or part-time jobs, according to a narrative submitted with the plan.
To move forward, the plan will require site-plan approval from the city's Zoning Commission as well as approval by the city's Conservation Commission. The latter is necessary because of the location along the Norwalk River. On Feb. 9, the plan will go before the Zoning Commission's Plan Review Committee for preliminary review.
Michael B. Greene, the city's director of planning and zoning, said Friday that his staff hadn't yet reviewed the plan in detail. In concept, he described the proposal for a hotel along Main Avenue as "exciting."
"We certainly have a need for more hotels," Greene said. "This (proposed hotel) helps cover the areas by Merritt 7, but also is not far, driving time, to South Norwalk."
Salvatore noted the proximity of the proposed hotel to Merritt 7 Corporate Park and other offices along Route 7. The area is home to Xerox, Hewitt Associates and Diageo North America and other "tremendous Fortune 500 names," he noted.
While Hotel Zero Degrees Norwalk would be geared toward corporate clientele, it also would accommodate leisure travelers as does Hotel Zero Degrees in Stamford, according to Salvatore.
"The concept was to create a hotel with great design, a boutique hotel that caters to business travelers during the week and leisure travellers on the weekend," Salvatore said.
Tad Diesel, the city's director of marketing and business development, lent his support to the plan.
"It's going to combine a hotel and a nice little restaurant," Diesel said. "And one of the interesting things about that location is it's got a beautiful view of the river right behind it. So I think it's going to be a happening place."
Salvatore said Hotel Zero Degrees (Norwalk), LLC, developed the plan to meet all zoning regulations and, if it approved, hopes to complete construction by year's end.
The development would not be Salvatore's first undertaking in Norwalk. Salvatore led the redevelopment of the former Gibbs College property at 142 East Ave. into three-dozen condominiums, and the construction of 27 condominium units near Garden Cinema on Isaac Street.
(c)2012 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)
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