Downtown Norwalk’s pedestrian scale, historic buildings, diverse housing stock, and strategic location at the crossroads of Connecticut’s highway and rail networks have helped position it to become a regional employment hub. The city’s walkable and lively neighborhoods have attracted start-ups and entrepreneurs looking for a lively and diverse urban environment to incubate ideas and grow companies. In particular, the areas around the city’s South Norwalk and Merritt 7 train stations, as well as the West Avenue and Wall Street neighborhoods, have seen substantial investment and job growth over the last decade.
Merritt 7 has become a flagship corporate office park for regional and national tech companies. Since the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium opened in the late 1980s, 500 new apartments have been built in the South Norwalk neighborhood. A recent grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will leverage $414 million in public and private funds to transform the Washington Village public housing site into a mixed-income community. In the West Avenue-Wall Street neighborhood, anchored by Matthews Park and Stepping Stones Museum for Children, more than 775 new apartment units have been built since 2010. On Wall Street, the historic Globe Theater is expected to become the anchor for a growing arts community with shared workspaces and housing for a diverse mix of residents.
Implementation of the recommendations of the Fourth Regional Plan would help Norwalk further capitalize on these assets. High-speed broadband would help attract more businesses in the creative and technology sectors and close the digital divide between high- and low-income households. Improved commuter rail service, affordable on-demand car service, and proactive planning for autonomous vehicles would strengthen Norwalk’s position in the region as an accessible and attractive place to live, work, and play. Support for community-centered arts and culture would leverage Norwalk’s role as a hub of creative industries and improve community cohesion. Streets designed for people emphasizing walking, biking, public transit, and green infrastructure would enhance residents’ well-being and improve stormwater management and resiliency.