Author’s Note: Due to a potential conflict of interest, this story was not written or edited by GOOD Morning Wilton‘s editor. Any future GMW coverage of the developer’s application for 2 and 24 Pimpewaug Road will be handled similarly to avoid any conflict of interest.
At last night’s Sept. 27 meeting, the Wilton Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) saw conceptual plans for a potential new apartment complex at 2-24 Pimpewaug Rd., presented by Continental Global Ventures, LLC, (CGV).
This is the third time CGV has presented plans to the commission in the informal, “pre-application review” process. After the commission essentially sent the developer back to the drawing board for “failing to delight” them at the two earlier pre-application reviews, the CGV team left no stone unturned in re-conceptualizing its plans for the roughly 7-acre property.
Despite seeing the proposed changes as moving in the right direction — and in some ways, giving the commission what they previously asked for — most members of the commission feel the applicant still has room to improve with a more visionary approach to the site planning.
Evolution From “Alterra” to “The Gregory at Wilton”
From the very beginning, CGV’s team envisioned the property to be a “first-rate, luxury community” with an array of what they called “resort quality” amenities and the working name, “Alterra Wilton.”
But P&Z was generally critical of the earlier plans, not only for lacking an innovative vision and inspired design, but for a host of concerns regarding setbacks, affordability, wetlands, traffic, pedestrian connectivity and impacts to neighboring residences.
The list of concerns also included the fate of the historic Gregory house, which was not included in the developer’s original plans (as seen in the rendering below). In a subsequent plan, CGV agreed to save and preserve the home, though P&Z did not feel it was meaningfully integrated into the site plan.
Howard Rappaport, a principal at CGV, told the commission, “We clearly heard those concerns and have taken them to heart. Since the last hearing, we have switched architects and land planners and have engaged a new firm, Lessard Design, [Inc.].”
Rappaport requested the commission focus on the “substantially revised land plan and the manner in which we have fundamentally reorganized the site to relate to Danbury Rd., Pimpewaug Rd., the historic [Gregory] house and the wetlands” and not to focus on the elevations and materials that shown for illustrative purposes.
The “substantial” changes to the plans include, among others:
- Two residential buildings (“U” and “L” shaped) instead of three (rectangular) buildings
- A clubhouse integrated within one residential building instead of a standalone building
- Relocation of the amenities area and creation of more green space along Danbury Rd., anchored by the Gregory house
- An effort to create an impression of the property as a “gateway to Wilton Center”
- Reduction in the number of above-ground parking spaces (from 173-210 originally proposed down to 133) in favor or more underground parking
- Reduced massing, with a flat roof that further minimizes the buildings’ visual impression to neighbors and passers-by
Progress? Yes… But Not Enough
While noting some positive features of the latest plans — notably the reduction in above-ground parking — commission chair Rick Tomasetti took issue with a few fundamental aspects, particularly the location of the pool and other amenities (facing an unappealing Danbury Rd.) and the integration of the Gregory house into the plans.
“I’m still not convinced it has this relationship — as [CGV] called it, the gateway to Wilton Center. I don’t see that at all,” said Tomasetti. “I see it as a historic home that you’re retaining there [but] I don’t really see a meaningful linkage and connection… I don’t think it’s been made meaningful in integrating it with the rest of the planning.”
Commission vice chair Melissa-Jean Rotini made a similar observation. “You saved the [Gregory] building and it looks like someone built a very large apartment complex on [the adjoining] property… I don’t really understand how these two things look related.”
Tomasetti conceded the site is extremely challenging and acknowledged the CGV team’s effort to address the commission’s earlier feedback, but he said, “I feel you’re being responsive, as opposed to visionary or inventive.”
The consensus among the commissioners was generally that the latest plans were a “step in the right direction.”
Tomasetti strongly believes the property is well suited for multifamily housing development, but is challenging the developer to consider all alternative typologies.
“What is that we think is the best use from a planning perspective for this property, and what is the appropriate scale?” he asked rhetorically, as he noted the challenge of balancing what is economically feasible for developers with the best planning for the community.
“I would say, I see this as a site that needs a change to some type of denser use,” Tomasetti said, and in his view “a residential use as opposed to an office or commercial use” is appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that a zoning change would ultimately be required.
As a resident of Powder Horn Hill, we are concerned that the inevitable blasting at this site may cause damage to our wells. Is this being considered in the planning of this project? And if so, how?
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