Liquor store, restaurant proposed

In a sign of the times, a former Radio Shack retail space at the town’s Gateway Shopping Center is proposed to become an Asian restaurant, and former office space down the road on Route 7 is proposed to become a package store.

The package store proposal is particularly interesting because there are only a few liquor stores in town, under guidelines of the state Liquor Control Commission that limit the number of package stores according to  population, said Bob Nerney, the town planner.

The town may have up to five package stores. There were three, but Vintage Fine Wines in Wilton Center closed a few years ago.

The proposed package store property is at 196 Danbury Road, owned by Hastings Real Estate, according to information on file at the Planning and Zoning Department. It is a New England barn and silo-style building that had been used for offices.

“It would be the only package store location on the northbound side of Route 7,” said Nerney. The floor area is proposed to be 2,080 square feet.

Robert Hall of Wilton, listed as the owner of the proposed liquor store, did not return a phone call and an email seeking comment. His public hearing is set for Oct. 23.

One thing the zoning department must do is determine whether the proposed liquor store is near any churches or schools. If so, it could not be allowed. “We have not started the review of the application. We expect to start that process shortly,” Nerney said. Our Lady of Fatima Church and school are on the opposite side of Route 7 at 229 Danbury Road.

A Japanese restaurant called Poke is proposed for the Radio Shack space. The public hearing is set for Oct. 23 as well. Radio Shack went out of business a year ago as part of the national chain’s downsizing, Nerney said.

Economist Steven Glazer of Norwalk Community College reflected on how there are probably more of these changes in use to come.

“There’s been a trend regarding the closure of many retail stores, one of them being Radio Shack in Wilton,” Glazer said. “In the case of Radio Shack, having declared bankruptcy several years back, analysts have concluded that their business model didn’t adapt quickly enough to the changing world of electronics and suffered at the hands of its competitors, one of them now being Amazon.

“Over the past year, we have heard of many retailers closing their doors in various malls as consumers are more apt to shop for whatever they want online, as they find it more convenient with all of their other daily commitments. As such, there is a lot more available retail space like the two in Wilton, and possibly more to come.”