Mixed-use project anchors series of plans OK’d for Commerce Drive
Published 7:37 am, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission approved several development plans for Commerce Drive last week, including the town’s first Transit Oriented Development Park, which features a five-story building with a mix of residential and commercial units.
“I think this is going to be great for our town,” TPZ Chairman Matthew Wagner said of the plan from Abbey Road Ventures, LLC, and Skala Partners, LLC, for 2.5 acres at the corner of Commerce Drive and Black Rock Turnpike. The vacant building on the property most recently housed the Edge gym, and is neaby the Fairfield Metro train station.
The application was approved unanimously, and enthusiastically, by the commission.
Under the proposal, the first floor will encompass retail/commercial space, with the remaining four floors residential apartments. As required, 10 percent of the units will be set aside as affordable under state income-eligibilty criteria.
The developer had originally set aside 10 of the 101 units as affordable, but Wagner urged the commission to require that the plan meet the “no less than 10 percent” regulation. He pointed out that the applicant, at the earlier public hearing on the plan, had expressed willingness to set aside 11 units if that was a condition of approval.
“This was a huge factor in our decision,” Wagner said, when adopting the TOD regulations in 2011. “We settled on a specific number, not less than 10 percent” for affordable housing set-asides.
The commission ultimately agreed to let the developer either reduce the overall units to 100, and provide 10 affordable units, or keep it at 101 and provide 11 units.
“I think it’s exactly the kind of building we’re looking for,” said TPZ Commissioner Patricia Jacobson. “I think it will be a nice addition to the neighborhood.”
“I support this 100 percent,” Commissioner Anthony Calabrese said. “This is exactly what we need as a town in this area.”
The residential portion of the development will consist of four studios, 73 one-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units. There also will be a fitness center, a club room, a BBQ grill area and a fireplace on an amenities deck.
There was no opposition to the proposal at the public hearing, and several residents spoke in favor of the proposal.
Two more projects OK’d
Other projects approved for Commerce Drive include an addition to the Orthopaedic Specialty Group building, which under construction across the street at 652 Commerce Drive, and the conversion of the former Masters Electric Building at 201 Commerce Drive into an automotive repair facility.
The addition to the medical building is needed for the surgery center capacity and for the relocation of an MRI machine from the current Kings Highway office, according to the application.
Penske Automotive received approval to convert 201 Commerce Drive for use as a repair facility and office space.
According to the applicant, the front of the building would be used for administrative offices, while the rest would be used to prepare pre-owned cars for resale. No cars would be sold or stored at the property.