Wilton officials praise revised downtown development

WILTON — The Architectural Review Board, acting as the Village District Design Advisory Committee on Thursday night, had glowing words for a proposed 24-unit, four-story development at 3 Hubbard Road downtown.

“I think it sets a really nice tone for the village district in terms of how to integrate buildings that are new,” said member Laura Perese during the pre-application review for the project.

At the suggestion of Michael Wrinn, Wilton’s director of planning and land use management, representatives of 3 Hubbard Road, LLC, shared updated details about their project, which was previously vetted before the Planning and Zoning Commission three separate times.

“It’s changed quite a bit,” architect David Goslin, principal of Hartford-based Crosskey Architects, LLC, said of the plans.

“They wanted this place to be something transformative and unique,” he said of P&Z feedback.

The proposal calls for a new 24-unit building with more than 27,200 square feet. It would join an existing one, which also has 24 units.

Goslin said, “even though it’s a four-story building per se,” changes to the top technically lower it to three-and-a-half stories with a new gable construction.

“I think that this building integrates well with the surroundings generally,” Perese said, applauding the look of details like the handrails on the balconies and the character of the façade and design.

“I think that this is a really refreshing update,” she said.

Officials considered the original design less aesthetically pleasing.

“I’m totally supportive of where you’re going on all this,” board member Sam Gardner said, noting that the changes — in particular the bit white gable — reflect designs currently seen in Wilton Center.

He noted, however, that it was a little tall in relation to the rest of the building, in particular a front entrance that he described as “under-welcoming.”

“I think it’s great that you decided to go with a single entrance, but I think you should celebrate it a little more,” Gardner said.

“There’s an awful lot to like here in the evolution,” Chair Rob Sanders said, applauding their effort.

He and others also noted that the creation of their board was apparently having an impact in the plans that developers were submitting to the town.

“We’re pushing the tiller and she’s beginning to come about,” he said, noting that their persistence in maintaining the qualities they want in developments is encouraging “the right people” to come forward with plans.

Gardner concurred.

“I think the word is out that there is a consciousness now, a raised consciousness, about these architectural and planning issues,” he said, “and developers that come to town probably know that and they know they have to contend with that, so they raised their game.”

Sanders, however, said they shouldn’t count their chickens yet, as the jury was still out.

Quoting Han Solo from the original “Star Wars” movie, after Luke Skywalker shoots down an enemy fighter, he cautioned Gardner and others, “Don’t get cocky, kid.”