Planning & Zoning Commission member Richard DiDonna has resigned his seat on the board, Chairman Susan Cameron announced at Tuesday night’s meeting. The board is asking the Republican Town Committee to suggest replacement candidates, which the board will then choose. “He and his wife have bought a house in Florida,” Cameron said, and he expects to be spending part of the year there. “I want to personally thank him for his service on the commission.” DiDonna’s replacement will have to be either a Republican or unaffiliated voter, Cameron said.
With a formal land-use application to locate a Shake Shack restaurant at the former site of Chuck’s Steakhouse at 1340 Post Road, more details about the proposal have now come out. Owners of the chain and of the property have said they hope to get the restaurant up and running by late summer or early fall. The application was filed by Baywater 1340 BPR, LLC, an affiliate of Baywater Properties LLC, an owner of a number of downtown commercial properties and headed by David Genovese. According to the formal application, the restaurant would have:
Indoor seating for 76 diners at 19 tables in a 1,228-square-foot area (but “the number of seats, tables and booths may change over time”)
Another 582 square feet for customers to line up (and also including a corridor, vestibule and restrooms)
Total “customer space” of 1,810 square feet in a one-story building that has 3,100 square feet
An 800-square-foot patio for outdoor seating for 44 at about eight tables
Hours open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the week
About 12 employees (on average) on-site together (meaning the total number of employees would be higher), with some there as early as several hours before the restaurant opens
Kitchen space of 393 square feet, another 370 square feet for “active storage,” a 64-square-foot office and 103 square feet for “mechanical” space and “dead storage.” An already existing “densely vegetated area about 50 feet thick” in the back of the property, along Old Kings Highway South, remaining.
Decisions on “unprecedented” commercial development proposals for downtown Darien and the Noroton Heights business district are before the Planning & Zoning Commission, its chair, Susan Cameron, says. (Cameron’s full speech, as prepared, appears at the bottom of this article.)
Cameron told the Representative Town Meeting that the commission expects to get detailed, formal proposals for various big projects in the coming year, not only for the Corbin Drive/Post Road area downtown, but also from the two major property owners in downtown Noroton Heights. Also in Noroton Heights, a proposal to build a self-storage facility on the tract between Avalon Darien and Hollow Tree Ridge Road is expected to come before the commission. That spot was thought to be a good spot for more housing, but getting sewer service is now said not to be “viable,” Cameron said. (Previously, Cameron has said that Interstate 95, on the southern side of the property, is said to be too difficult to get a sewer across.)
The Housing Authority is proposing to tear down Old Town Hall Homes, a 30-unit housing development at 719 Post Road, and replace it with buildings with 55 units and that would have elevators.
Shake Shack, a popular, upscale fast-food-like restaurant, has signed a lease for the former Chuck’s Steak House site on the Post Road and wants to open for business by late summer or early fall 2016. It also wants a “Shake Shack” sign two feet high in the front of the building, although current zoning regulations allow for businesses to have 10-inch-high signs. Some other retail businesses in town have larger signs than the regulations allow, usually granted through variances to the rules, including nearby H&L Chevrolet and Nielsen’s Florists. A representative from Shake Shack, along with David Genovese, principal at Baywater Properties, which owns the 1340 Post Road site (as well as much of the land and buildings downtown), gave an informal description of their proposed project to build the restaurant to the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday. The store would have about 3,100 square feet of interior floor space in a building on the front corner of the three-quarter-acre lot, closest to nearby Interstate 95.