Retail renovation proposed for old postal building

Plan to redevelop the downtown Post Office into a retail building for one to three tenants have been filed by the new owners with the Planning and Zoning Department.
Plan to redevelop the downtown Post Office into a retail building for one to three tenants have been filed by the new owners with the Planning and Zoning Department.Genevieve Reilly

Plans to expand the longtime U.S. Post Office building on the Post Road and convert it into space for one or more retail tenants have been filed in Sullivan-Independence Hall.

Assistant Town Planner James Wendt said a public hearing date has not been set on the plans, which call for the 11,130-square-foot downtown building to be reconstructed into a 17,000-square-foot structure. The central front of the brock building would remain and a one-story addition would be built onto the back.

The height of the building, now 23 feet, wouldn't change, according to Wendt and the plans.

"The proposal is to preserve the front façade and some interior portions of the building and remove the remaining structure and construct a new one-story retail building," says a report filed by the Huntington Co., a Fairfield firm of civil engineers, site planners and land surveyors, that accompanies the application. "New surface parking will be located to the north and west of the proposed building. New drainage and detention systems will be installed as part of the stormwater management plan."

The Post Office building, built in 1935 on 1.2 acres, was bought in May for $4.3 million by 1262 Post Road, LLC, an affiliate of Westport Capital Partners, an institutional investment firm on Danbury Road in Wilton.

The U.S. Postal Service, which sold the building as part of an overall downsizing strategy, is moving the downtown Fairfield Post Office to a smaller storefront at 1300 Post Road.

The final day of business at the old Post Office is scheduled for Saturday, and the new office will open Monday.

Peter Penczer, chairman of the town's Economic Development Commission, said his panel had reviewed the proposal to renovate the old Post Office for retail use, and supports it.

He said the owners hope to lease space to one to three retail tenants, but don't have any prospects yet.

Penczer said the development would complement retail stores on the south side of the Post Road and calls for a two-way driveway on the west side of the Post Office building so traffic to the new retail development won't conflict with motorists going to and from the Lantern Hill offices on the east side.

The development also calls for glass on back of the building, Penczer said.

"They have what seems to be a nice plan, with parking behind the building. ... I thought it was an interesting and nice plan for the center (of Fairfield), and so did the commission," Penczer said.

William Fitzpatrick, the ownership LLC's lawyer, says in a document that a traffic report is being prepared and would be submitted to the town's Plan and Zoning Department in advance of the public hearing, along with a color rendering of the proposed building.

Andrew Brophy is a Fairfield Citizen correspondent.