News Column

Redevelopment Agency seeks clarity on Citibank financing for Wall Street Place

July 17, 2014

By Robert Koch, The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.



July 17--NORWALK -- Seeking clarity on Citibank's financing commitments, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency commissioners tabled action on extending the timeline for POKO Partners, LLC, to complete Wall Street Place.

"We were led to believe that the financing was secure and that everything was moving along there," said Commissioner Lori Torrano. "My preference would be to table this, drill down on this a little more and see what we're really dealing with. How realistic is Oct. 31 and is Citibank really saying that if we don't have an extension on the LDA, that they're not going to approve the financing?"

Torrano's comments came Tuesday evening at City Hall as Redevelopment Agency commissioners continued their discussion of whether to amend the existing Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) between the agency, the city and POKO Partners, LLC.

Commissioners concurred with Torrano and voted to table action on the extension request until their Aug. 12 meeting.

"Clearly, there's a sense of the commission that we need more information relative to the Citibank timelines, at the very least, and if there could be a deeper understanding as to what the level of that (financing) commitment is, it would be helpful," said Timothy T. Sheehan, Redevelopment Agency executive director.

Under the existing LDA, POKO Partners has until Sept. 11 to finish Phase One of Wall Street Place.

Torrano said she was "underwhelmed" by the information presented by POKO Partners at a joint meeting of the Redevelopment Agency Commission and Common Council'sPlanning Committee on June 5, and remained unprepared to vote Tuesday.

"It's a little troublesome to me that we're at this point and we don't even have a preliminary commitment," Torrano said. "I'm not optimistic that Oct. 31 is remotely realistic given the fact that it doesn't feel like we have anything now."

Under a timeline presented to the Redevelopment Agency, POKO Partners anticipates "Provisional Credit Approval" by Citibank by July 31, "Final Commitment" by Oct. 31 and "Construction Loan Closing" by Jan. 30, 2015.

On June 4, POKO Partners presented the Redevelopment Agency letters from CitiBank laying out the terms and conditions for loans in the amount of $18.2 million and $9.69 million.

Sheehan said the Redevelopment Agency is not privy to negotiations between POKO Partners and Citibank.

"The specifics of that relationship and what the terms of that are, that's between the redeveloper and his lender," Sheehan said. "We ultimately would be requesting that Citibank provide us some communication back, through the redeveloper, on this information. But the agency itself cannot directly engage Citibank."

On Monday evening, Planning Committee members continued their discussion of offering an extension but took no action.

Phase One of Wall Street Place calls for 101 apartments, 16,000 square feet of retail and a 200-space automated parking garage in the Isaacs Street area of the Wall Street neighborhood.

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(c)2014 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)

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Source: Hour (Norwalk, CT)


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