Plans moving ahead to demolish 160-year-old building for parking lot

NEW FAIRFIELD — Although an application has yet to be filed, the owners of the New Fairfield Shopping Center seem to expect a demolition permit will be approved in time for the former Village Hardware building to come down later this month.

The owners, Northland Retail Associates LLC and Sound Equity Holdings LLC, are looking to make improvements to the Brush Hill Road property, which include tearing down the more than 160-year-old building.

On their behalf, SLR Consulting Inc. submitted a special permit application for the proposed improvement plan to the Zoning Commission, which opened a public hearing on it last month.

SLR Consulting principal engineer Todd Ritchie described the former hardware store building as a safety concern that lacks basic amenities like running water.

“It’s a very old structure, and it’s very concerning to the fire marshal and others as far as its potential for (catching) fire,” he said during the first public hearing session.

Ritchie said the shopping center owners want to tear down the building in order to improve parking on the site.

Bill Sutor, who said he does maintenance work on the property, told the Zoning Commission on Wednesday that the owners are looking to demolish the old building the weekend of Aug. 23.

The special permit application currently before the Zoning Commission is for sitework plan approval, but a demolition permit will be needed to knock down the former hardware store.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Evan White told the Zoning Commission on Wednesday that the applicant is in the process of applying for one.

“The permit has not been applied for yet as there are requirements that need to be completed (such as) asbestos and lead removal,” Building Official Eric Kist said Thursday.

Kist said a copy of the application will be posted to the town website once it’s been filed.

The 4,650 square-foot building that housed Village Hardware up until a few years ago is believed to be one of the oldest structures standing in New Fairfield.

Former town historian and Preserve New Fairfield emeritus trustee Linda Decker said she had not heard of any efforts to save or preserve the structure.

Long before it was a hardware store, the building was the 19th century homestead of Isaac Knapp.

Originally situated on Knapp’s farm, the house sat on a knoll across from the old intersection of Routes 37 and 39 — slightly east of the building’s present-day location.

The property was sold in 1924 to Arthur H. Chase, who ran a farm there until his death in 1955 — after which the farmhouse was sold, moved to its present-day location and converted into a hardware store.

The Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the special permit application for the New Fairfield Shopping Center site improvement plan has been continued to Sept. 1.