Downtown Redevelopment Project Makes Progress

DARIEN — The redevelopment of downtown Darien is a step closer to becoming reality.

If approved by zoning, the Corbin Project will increase office space downtown from 45,961 to 81,200 square feet, while retail space would increase from 52,279 to 81,730 square feet.

After an attorney for developer Baywater Properties recited a long list of minor tweaks to the project, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to close a public hearing on the development and move to consider the plan.

Along with the massive expansion of office space and retail, Baywater has proposed 30 one-bedroom apartments and 87 two-bedroom apartments.

The total site area for the project is 7.17 acres of downtown and will span from the Bank of America building on the Post Road to the intersection of Corbin Drive and Old Kings Highway South.

The project will feature 27,933 square feet of public plaza space and 16,910 square feet of restaurant space.

Baywater introduced the project in 2017, and since then it has been resdesigned to be more in line with the existing buildings downtown.

“I think we can all agree it was a good decision and we came up with a better project through this incredible journey we have been on,” Baywater Principal David Genovese said.

Small changes, such as proper one-way signage and stop bars coming out of parking garages, were added to the plan. Baywater Properties attorney Robert Maslan said at the hearing that many of the changes occurred after peer reviews.

Elizabeth Riva, a member of the commission, said the Post Road is a lovely spot for the community.

“Hopefully this plaza is still here,” she said. “But I understand what you have to deal with.”

Parking was one of the main factors in the project’s redesign, with Baywater Properties considering the future of retail shopping and transportation. The revised project will feature less underground parking — 805 spaces total, with 187 of them on street level.

On Wednesday, David Genovese said the goal is to start building in spring 2019. For now, it’s in the hands of the Planning and Zoning Commission to further deliberate and make a decision, he said.

“I would say the dialogue has been very constructive since we redesigned the project,” he said. “We’re optimistic to building the project next year.”

Also included in the Corbin Project is a proposal for affordable housing. The plan is to have 12 units for people with special needs on East Lane and three units downtown. If that plan is not approved by planning and zoning, a second proposal calls for all the affordable units to be built downtown, and would not be restricted to those with special needs.

The commission will next meet on Sept. 11 to discuss the proposals.