Market Lane 6-1-16

Building Height Discussed in Last Zone-Change Hearing for Corbin-Post Downtown Redevelopment

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Is five or six stories just too high for a Darien building, even downtown? Or will those buildings loom less over downtown and nearby homes than some fear? Those questions were behind a lot of the discussion Tuesday night at the Planning & Zoning Commission’s last public hearing on a zoning change proposal that would allow higher structures on the triangular site bounded by Corbin Drive, the Post Road and Interstate 95. In a slide presentation from developer David Genovese and his team, the commission saw sketches showing how high the buildings would appear from various angles downtown, some as far away as Darien Library and the intersection of Brookside Road and the Post Road. The commission members also asked questions about how much height was needed for multi-story buildings, how many parking spaces would be provided.

Closer rendering front and side 4-19-16

‘Shake Shack Is a Go’ — to Open This Fall

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Update, 8:51 p.m., Thursday and 6:12 a.m., Friday:

David Genovese, principal of Baywater Properties LLC, an affiliate of which owns the site where Shake Shack will be built, announced that the restaurant has agreed to come to Darien:
Shake Shack is a go. We expect to file for building permit next week, to begin construction later this month or in early July and to open the restaurant in the fall. Construction is estimated to take 4 months. In a comment on’s Facebook timeline, Genovese discussed some of the reasons why getting the Shake Shack proposal approved was difficult:

“This took us a lot more time than we expected, and cost substantially more than we thought it would. We did not prove to the satisfaction of the ZBA [Zoning Board of Appeals] at the first hearing that there was a hardship.

Corbin Post Road Corner 6-1-16

Only ‘Retail’ Side of Post Office in Latest Downtown Redevelopment Proposal

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The Corbin Drive/Post Road redevelopment proposal would not include the back-office operations of the present Darien Post Office — just the public, front-end “retail” side of it in a 2,500-square-foot space, the Planning & Zoning Commission was told Tuesday. “We’re proposing to eliminate the distribution center for the Post Office, and have that Post Office move that elsewhere,” said David Genovese, principal (with his father, Rocco Genovese) at Baywater Properties, which has partnered with developer Penny Glassmeyer to propose redevelopment of the downtown block between the Post Road, Corbin Drive and Interstate 95. “We would want to include the retail [part of the] Post Office to serve residents in downtown Darien,” he continued. “So we’re proposing a 2,500-square-foot Post Office retail facility, which would be located probably about where it is today.” Genovese has said in the past that fitting in the non-“retail” parts of the Post Office, with space for storage, sorting and parking for delivery vehicles — would be difficult on the site, but if they couldn’t stay downtown, he would try to help find another location for those operations.

Closer rendering front and side 4-19-16

Shake Shack Now Faces Higher Hurdle in Darien, Even as P&Z Approves Application

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Shake Shack’s application to open a restaurant on the Post Road received unanimous approval from the Darien Planning & Zoning Commission Tuesday, but the major hurdle before another crucial town board recently got higher. The P&Z voted unanimously to approve the restaurant’s application to open a restaurant at 1340 Post Road, the former site of Chuck’s Steak House. But a major sticking point with town land-use officials over the restaurant’s application has always been the larger signs that Shake Shack wants — bigger than what town regulations currently allow. The largest proposed sign would be 22 inches high; town regulations now set the maximum at 10 inches. That argument is before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which recently hired a consultant to do a “peer review” on the signage proposed in Shake Shack’s most recent application.

Corbin Post Road Rendering 4-7-16

Developer’s Hopes for Corbin/Post Road Redevelopment Described to Packed Room

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Although he didn’t announce any changes in the plans to transform the Corbin Drive/Post Road/I-95 block of commercial buildings, the chief developer of the project gave out more details to a packed Community Room at Darien Library on Wednesday night, and answered a lot of questions from the audience. Some information that’s new or hasn’t been emphasized before about the project:

Developers are trying to work with the U.S. Postal Service to keep the Post Office on the block and even hope to keep the delivery postal employees based there, although the post office may need more space than the area that’s been discussed. The Bank of America building has not been bought by the owners of the rest of the site. A late-night email to the CEO of L.L. Bean started the ball rolling in discussions with that retailer to bring that store to town. That L.L. Bean store may include a bicycle shop.

Corbin Post Road Illustration 3-30-16

Find Out About the Corbin/Post Rd Downtown Redevelopment Proposal Wednesday at the Library

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Darien Library is hosting an informational meeting Wednesday night, April 6 about the downtown redevelopment proposal along the Post Road and Corbin Drive. David Genovese, principal of Baywater Properties, will present an overview of the proposal, which would transform a large section of downtown. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. 

Here’s an announcement from Darien Library:

David Genovese, founder of Baywater Properties, will present to the public an overview of the downtown Darien redevelopment project proposed by Baywater Properties and its partner, PG Properties.  A full presentation of the project will be given to attendees, with significant time available for questions and comments. The Baywater venture began work on acquiring the properties from Corbin Drive to the Bank of America Building, including the US Post Office at 30 Corbin Drive and 10 Corbin Drive, in 2005. In July of 2015, Baywater presented the initial concept for its redevelopment proposal to a joint meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Architectural Review Board.  Baywater will soon be filing its next application to the Planning & Zoning Commission, with a goal of attaining all approvals by the end of 2016.

Shake Shack 9

Is There Still Hope for Shake Shack Coming to Darien? Maybe.

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Shake Shack has walked away from their application to site a store at 1340 Post Road in Darien after deciding there was too much resistance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to their proposed 24-inch-high signs —but there may still be a possibility they’ll return. Here are two signs of hope:

1. There’s a lot of interest in town
First, the restaurant’s bid to open a store in Darien is of huge interest in town. Take a look at the number of Facebook “recommends” for’s original article about the restaurant chain’s decision to withdraw it’s Darien bid:

That 464 “recommends” is as large a number as any story has had.’s Web page for the article has garnered more than 2,800 unique visitors since it was published Thursday morning, and readers are still flocking to the story.

Shake Shack 4

Both Shake Shack Applicants, Zoning Board Say the Other Side Wasn’t Cooperative

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Gary Greene, chairman of the Darien Zoning Board of Appeals, said he and the board didn’t feel they had a choice but deny Shake Shack a variance Wednesday night. David Genovese, a developer working with Shake Shack to get a restaurant on his Post Road property, said Shake Shack officials didn’t feel they could make any more changes in their signage to get a variance. What zoning officials said

The ZBA needed Shake Shack to make a case that its 24-inch-high name sign was necessary and its hamburger image was central to its branding, and that the way the sign was lit would not look too “glaring” with light coming from the side, said Robert Woodside, a code compliance officer in the Planning & Zoning Department who was at the meeting to assist the Board on Wednesday night. The board offered to postpone its decision if Shake Shack would show them a live mock up of the sign or something similar to it so the board could see how it would look, but the company declined, Greene said. __________

See also:

Is There Still Hope for Shake Shack Coming to Darien?

Shake Shack 3

GONE? Genovese: After Zoning Board Denies Sign Request, ‘Shake Shack Walked Away’

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Shake Shack “walked away” after the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday night denied the company’s request for larger signs at its proposed location on the Post Road, developer David Genovese said. “[T]he Zoning Board of Appeals denied our application tonight for Shake Shack’s signage program,” Genovese said in an email late Wednesday night, after the board meeting. Shake Shack was on the agenda for a public hearing to get a zoning variance for a Post Road site. Genovese is principal of Baywater Properties LLC and owner of the site through a related company. “Shake Shack walked away,” Genovese continued.