Downtown rooftop patio plan jettisoned in favor of office space
Updated 4:52 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2012
The owner of the former Las Vetas Lounge site downtown is asking the Zoning Board of Appeals to approve a second-floor addition for office and storage space after the board shot down his request for a rooftop patio.
John Karageorge, the owner of several commercial properties in Fairfield, went before the five-member board Feb. 2 asking permission to open the patio as part of an overall plan to renovate the space at Post Road and Sanford Street for restaurant use, claiming the idea piqued the interest of many area restaurateurs.
The request for the variance, which would have waived the need for 10 more parking spaces and street line and rear setbacks of 10 feet, raised concern among a few board members, however, over possible strains the patio might impose on downtown parking. As a result, the request came up short with a 3-2 vote, falling one tally shy of the needed supermajority vote for approval.
The ZBA will now consider another variance for second-floor office space, which would also waive the need for street line and rear setbacks of 10 feet, on March 1, according to a legal notice published Feb. 15 in the Fairfield Citizen.
According to documents filed by Karageorge on Feb. 10 with the Planning and Zoning Department, the flat-roof addition will cover 500 square feet on top of the site and have two interior staircases, one leading to the restaurant, the other to the sidewalk along Sanford Street.
The proposed structure would raise the building's height to just under 27 feet from its original height of about 17 feet at the apex of its original parapet facing the Post Road, according to renderings by J.P. Franzen Associates Architects of Fairfield. The new space would have four windows facing the Post Road and another four windows facing Sanford Street and cement clapboard siding and azek corner board on its exterior.
The plan, which also calls for "decorative railings" to match the same on the first floor, would not modify the footprint of the original structure, which has a frontage of 34 feet along the Post Road and a frontage of 57.5 feet along Sanford Street.
Karageorge has not returned a call seeking comment on the new plans or pursuit of the rooftop patio scheme.
After Las Vetas left the spot in October 2009, Karageorge received town approval to change the use from retail to restaurant, expecting William Auer and Susan Dederick, owners of Centro Ristorante & Bar, to open an all-natural eatery there. After that plan fell through, Karageorge continued with a renovation that included installing a basement, new electrical wiring and gas lines, and making the space handicapped accessible.
The upgrade also includes building an addition in a patio area between the former Las Vetas site and an adjoining space, also owned by Karageorge and occupied by Eliza B. shoe store.
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