Wilton affordable housing plan will have artistic touch

WILTON — A new proposal soon to come before the Planning and Zoning Commission would provide five affordable apartments in a stylish building at 2 Hollyhock Road in South Wilton. It will be called Art House.

Seventeen apartments are planned — six studios, six one-bedrooms and five two-bedrooms — according to owner and developer Gregory Clark.

“My goal is to have something very special,” he said, “to create a gem.”

Clark began his career as a consumer products designer — from razors to shoes — but in 2001, he decided to create his own brand. He pursued his dream of designing luxury, custom-made furniture, and in 2006, he built the building on Hollyhock Road to house a gallery, design studio and light production. In 2008, he added some general office tenants.

With the area’s changing population and buying habits, Clark said his business has shifted to Manhattan, where he now has gallery space.

Not needing the gallery space in Wilton, Clark turned his attention toward what the future held for his 14,700-square-foot building that sits on a half-acre.

“The office market has gotten strained, so I put out some feelers,” he said, adding he received positive feedback from First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice on converting the building to homes.

“It unfolded beautifully,” he said of the project.

Clark said he is focused on working with local businesses, including Wilton architect Doug Cutler and Gregory and Adams law firm.

With his background in luxury furniture, he said he used top-of-the-line materials when the building was originally constructed.

“I did it just because I love it. There are hardwood floors, granite counter tops, the best windows. None of it’s broken down,” he said. “I plan on doing the same with the apartments.”

In addition to those amenities, he’s planning what he calls smart space-planning concepts, including lots of built-ins that would reduce the amount of furniture renters would need, over-sized shower stalls, and the ability to fine-tune heating and lighting.

Figuring millennials as likely renters — with ASML across the street and another corporate park next door — “they don’t want to buy expensive furniture.”

He also has ideas for three common areas with “wow” factors, including an existing cathedral ceiling.

“If you are greeting guests, you can sit in the common areas,” one of which will include a kitchenette, he said. Another will have a brochure rack for local points of interest, businesses and restaurant menus.

“On the upper loft, there will be painting easels we bought at a vintage shop that reinforces the idea of an art house,” he said, adding the hope there could be art shows in the future.

“It will all be artistically appointed,” he said.

Clark would also like to see an herb garden tenants could use and perhaps even a community garden. Tenants who like to ride on two wheels will be able to store their bicycles in the large basement.

The commission has yet to accept Clark’s application, but he hopes to be able to start work in February. His timeline would be to finish two-thirds of the apartments by the end of 2021.

He plans to apply for an 8-30g permit, but there will be no change in the building’s footprint and no significant changes to the exterior. What changes there would be in terms of doors and windows were reviewed Nov. 5 by the Architectural Review Board, which was generally supportive.