Concerns persist over 153-unit Wilton Center development

WILTON —Plans for a 153-unit development with retail elements in Wilton Center have once more caught the ire of the Planning and Zoning Commission after architectural concerns persisted at a recent pre-application meeting.

Plans to re-envision the KIMCO Realty property near Stop & Shop on the south end of the town center were mostly panned when first brought to the commission in December 2021. Despite that, plans were received much more favorably in May when P&Z Chairman Rick Tomasetti said the team came back with ideas that were “on the right path,” however still adding that the architectural elements had “a ways to go.”

Some of those concerns remain.

“I think what you’ve heard from all of us is there’s some concerns still about the architecture,” Tomasetti explained to the group representing KIMCO and CUBE 3 Architecture at the latest meeting. Some of the major points of contention revolved around the connection of the two buildings.

Commissioners questioned how the building with frontage on River Road, which is dubbed “Building 1A” and will feature 87 housing units and retail, will connect purposefully to “Building 1B,” the residential building in the southwest corner of the lot with 66 units.

Tomasetti spitballed ideas of pulling the River Road building all the way to the corner and possibly incorporating an arched entrance or another element that connects pedestrians and residents through to the Building 1B.

The idea is to create “interesting spaces in that architecture,” he said.

Vice Chairwoman Melissa-Jean Rotini also said she found it “disappointing” that the plans didn’t incorporate more retail space. She said a retail element, restaurant or public space should also be on the south-most corner of Building 1A, which she said was raised by the commission as a concern previously.

Ahmed Aly, a project manager with CUBE 3, did detail other ways that the architectural group wants to open up the entry space north of the River Road building for more engagement.

“We envision this entry drive to be a place that accommodates community events and seasonal activities, where either one segment of this street or both are converted to host events,” Aly said,

Those events can vary from food trucks to farmers markets or closing the parking temporarily for a popular restaurant to increase its outdoor dining.

Rotini and commissioner Jill Warren, a lawyer and law student respectively, raised concerns over a possible plaza where pedestrians would walk near motorists.

“I just can envision a lot of unfortunate accidents occurring there, especially given how people drive currently in that area,” Warren said. Rotini concurred, while Tomasetti believed there were ways to slow drivers down in the area with different architectural elements, such as speed bumps or turning the road.

Concerns over height and sight lines were also broached by commissioners, who requested updated renderings from longer-distance perspectives.

With the Wilton Center master planning process firmly underway, the focus is on the future of downtown and on Danbury Road.

“We need to look 10 or 15 years out, and with all of the development that we expect to be taking place in the Danbury Road corridor, and in greater Wilton Center and village proper, we expect a fair amount of residents to be populating your site and others,” Tomasetti said. “So I think you should really think hard about some of these spaces, specifically at the southern end of Building 1A.”