David Genovese, the man behind several of the revitalization projects in downtown Darien over the past 15 years, shared his vision for the next phase in the town’s makeover to a sold out luncheon at the Darien Community Association on Tuesday.
The next big project for Genovese and his business partner Penny Glassmeyer is a proposed makeover for the office building and post office on Corbin Drive and the businesses adjacent to it on the Post Road. Genovese and Glassmeyer have slowly been purchasing the properties in the triangular section that is bordered by I-95, Corbin Drive and Post Road over the last seven years.
With one property left in that area to acquire, Genovese revealed an artist’s rendering for the multi-use buildings that could potentially occupy that space. The plans include two and three-story buildings of varying designs that would include businesses and residences. A “town green” of sorts would sit in the middle of the triangular architecture where summer concerts could be held.
The part of the project that grabbed the most attention of the audience was a proposed parking garage that would be partially underground and disguised to look like the proposed neighboring buildings.
Genovese also admitted he is a little stumped as to what to do with the now former Chuck’s Steak House building that he recently purchased. The initial plan is to use the building for temporary business tenant space which would be transferred to the Corbin project area once it is finished. Genovse said that he plans to lease his properties to as many local business owners as he can.
“We don’t want to fill the stores in this Corbin project with J. Crew or Banana Republic,” Genovese said. “We want to fill it with more Everything Is Rosy and people who are like that who are fun and cool and live here and support local sports teams.”
Genovese spoke for a little more than an hour, sharing his personal and business history with the crowd of roughly 70. He started by refreshing the audience’s memory of what the Post Road looked like in the not-too-distant past with a series of pictures from the mid-1990’s. They included the yellow former electrician building just off of Exit 11 where A Little Something White Bridal now stands and a contaminated empty lot that is now the site of 1020 Post.
“It’s sort of hard to remember what was there and how bad it was,” Genovese said.
Genovese recently partnered with Glassmeyer, who is responsible for several other new buildings downtown, including Grove Street Plaza. Glassmeyer was unable to attend the event, but Genovese gave glowing reviews of his work with her.
“I have long thought Darien needs beautification and open, public space,” Carol Guthrie, landscaper and friend of Glassmeyer said in an introductory statement. “I believe that these two have beautifully achieved that. They go the extra mile in making choices regarding building materials, construction techniques and landscaping. We are very lucky to have them.”
Genovese concluded by saying he is always open to feedback on his projects.
“I used to think development was for optimistic fools. There’s so much risk, so much can go wrong, the economy can change, you can miss the market,” Genovese said. “I didn’t have gray hair 10 years ago.”