Mixed-use development–the combination of retail and residential in one property–is an option that’s been mentioned frequently as something Wilton should look to for the future, for growing the tax base and attracting new businesses and residents. Now, a developer has answered that call, filing plans for a major new development at a key location in town.
Wilton Heights LLC filed plans with Wilton’s Planning and Zoning Department on Wednesday, May 9, for approval of its new development at 300 Danbury Rd., and Whitewood Ln., the parcel at the intersection of Rtes. 7 and 33, where Crossways currently sits. According to a release from the developer, Wilton Heights is “entirely within 1,000 feet of the Wilton Train Station and utilizes the Wilton Center zoning which is existing on a large portion of the property. This Zone encourages housing above retail in a downtown type setting in areas that are walkable to the train and to Wilton Center.”
The proposed development includes two buildings that will be designed to appears to be five separate structures in a downtown setting, with retail parking in front and on the sides and residential parking hidden from view under the buildings. Some of the structures are touching, which the developer says adds to a village appearance.
There are two and one-half stories of residential above one-story of neighborhood type retail that will be broken into 5 to 10 separate businesses.
According to the release, “the 7.4-acre site plan includes more than three acres of wooded upland and wetland areas that will remain and become deed restricted from future development. This site plan provide a large buffer from neighbors to the east and south similar to what exists currently. There is an existing 200-foot wooded and deed restricted area immediately to the south buffering the new development from the Crown Pond Multifamily homes and Wilton Heights LLC has agreed to work cooperatively with neighbors to the north to increase the landscape buffer on both sides of that property line. The site plan seeks to hide more than two-thirds of the 74 residential homes from view and only 22 face Danbury Rd. above the retail.”
In addition, the site sits in a small valley between neighboring Powder Horn Hill Rd. homes above and Rte. 7 below. According to the release, the neighboring homes are situated higher than the proposed structures and most look over both the existing and proposed buildings.
The architecture is historic in nature–the north building features one gray shingle-style structure at the north end connected to a white federal-style structure in the middle, connected to a brick mill building; the L-shaped south building includes a white, shingle-style structure on its north side and a Connecticut yellow federal-style structure on the south side. The rear of both buildings is monotone brown shingle-style, which the developer says is meant to minimize the visual impacts for the neighbors through the woods in winter.
Paxton Kinol, a consultant for Wilton Height LLC, said, “We believe we are different than most developers in that we try to work with the town, community groups and neighbors to address specific needs in a cooperative manner. We identified two issues or needs within Wilton over the past several years and have worked with the guidance of many residents to find a site which could help address those issues. Those needs are, one–a lack of quality, multi-family housing in the downtown area for an aging population which is able bodied today but would like the convenience of one-story living for the future and two–additional tax dollars from Wilton Center to offset the rising tax burden on the single-family homeowners.”
Kinol added having friends who have relocated out of Wilton and others that are trying to sell their homes.
“Most have said that they would like to stay in Wilton and remain part of the community, but they cannot find suitable housing for empty nesters. This development is a clear attempt to construct a quality mixed-use development with ground floor commercial space and luxury ADA accessible residential in a setting that feels upscale and is respectful to its neighbors and to the town. We wanted a development that keeps Wilton, Wilton. We have done our best to meet the needs of the town while balancing all the competing interests. We hope you will like the results.”
The press release notes that Wilton Heights LLC will propose “traffic calming ideas,” in the belief that the stretch of Rte. 7 between the Wilton train station and Orem’s Diner has been “taken by the state and should be taken back by the town.”
“We will propose some traffic calming ideas over the coming month that will make this area much more attractive and allow for better pedestrian access while not reducing the traffic capacity that passes through each day.”
Editor’s note: The article has been updated to reflect that the developer is Wilton Heights LLC, a partnership of local business people. Belpointe Capital is not the project’s developer.