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Liberty Street Development Could Provide Boost to Downtown Businesses

A new 22-unit development in downtown Southington aims to increase foot traffic while providing more housing options for active seniors and bringing an economic boost to downtown Southington. .

For the better part of the past decade, proposals for condominium developments in Southington have been met with concern and opposition. It seems that local developer Anthony Denorfia has found a way to buck that trend.

Denorfia last week unveiled plans for a downtown development along Liberty Street that would provide housing for active seniors and increase foot traffic in the central business district – and aside from a few drainage concerns, it appears Denorfia has the backing of local residents.

The Southington Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a special exception for the development, which will eventually be built along Liberty Street between Columbus Avenue and Center Street. Commissioner Jim Sinclair said it’s one of the most beneficial condominium proposals that the town has heard in years.

“It’s no secret that we, I, have had a history of beating up Tony (Denorfia) on downtown condos and for the first time, possibly ever, I am in approval of the idea,” he said.

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The new development is designed for active seniors with a target age range between 65-years-old and 70-years-old. It will consist of 22 specific units and will mimic the development at 24 Pratt St., Denorfia said last week, with a special 2,200 square foot space for business use that would become an office or small store, he said.

The most intriguing aspect of the plan is that it would provide additional tax base and almost no cost to the town and add parking to a crowded downtown area.

“We are Proposing 55 spaces, but would expect use 23 at any one time,” Denorfia said. “It wouldn’t put any strain on parking in the downtown area. In fact, it would be adding surplus parking to the area.”

The units also are not designed for families with children, Denorfia said, and at the cost would allow for additional taxpayers without adding to the school populations or without requiring much in terms of medical services.

Denorfia said the development was a concept presented to him by Bill McDougall, member of the Bread-4-Life board of directors. Denorfia said when he thought about the idea, he realized it was something that could be a good thing for everyone involved.

“I was having dinner with Bill McDougall and said ‘we need something downtown. I would love to live there and take advantage of amenities. Is one of things downtown is missing’,” he said. “It all developed from there.”

There are still concerns to be addressed in areas of drainage and in finalizing the parking plans before a site plan is approved, but local resident Jim Jones said he’s looking forward to see the new development in the downtown area.

“I think it’s an excellent proposal for the area and will fit in well downtown. This is something that could really benefit everyone,” Jones said.

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Phoebe B January 08, 2013 at 11:32 AM
Some guys will try anything to get people to swallow a poorly conceived idea. Let's do the math on the one sleight of hand presented here for public consumption: 22 couples live here x 2 cars per couple = 44 spaces occupied out of 55 planned (where 55 spaces will fit in is not discussed). Then for good measure, Denorfia throws in that this will help the downtown parking congestion (something I've not seen myself in a great long time) to add sales spin and you've got one myth for swallowing. Frankly, 1) who living there is going to want to sacrifice parking for downtown wanderers (I can see the "Resident Parking Only" signs going up already) and 2) who longing, to wander downtown, will want to park on Liberty Street? Sounds like the only persons who'll benefit from this project are the landowner (who is that anyway?), Denorfia, the McDougalls and maybe the effervescent Mr. Sinclair. We have enough big housing ideas to last downtown for a long time. Anyone remember Greenway Commons? That was full of snap and sizzle many years back and it appears its developer and the Town officials that fostered it have dropped the ball. Perhaps we should allow getting one thing done -- well -- before we start another.
Alice Gamber January 09, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I would love to see newer ,modern and affordable condos for seniors downtown. In order for downtowns to thive you must have people of all ages who want to live there and be part of the downtown community. I am looking at the options in Southington and they are very limited. Active seniors are looking to shop and dine within walking distance of town. Don't assume that all owners are couples; there are many active single or widowed seniors looking for this housing option. Many will have two vehicles, but some people (like myself) are single with just one vehicle. What could be better than walking for your morning coffee or paper.. Or, walking to meet friends for dinner. Downtowns need to start attracting people of all ages to live and be part of the community. Otherwise, businesses,and the town, will never prosper. . Alice G
Ed Costello January 10, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Well said Alice, I think Phoebe is having a bad day. If I were Mr. Sinclair I would take issue with the innuendo. Greenway Commons is not dead, it is stalled waiting on funding. I beleive it is now a Brownfields property/project. In case you haven't noticed Phoebe, the economy tanked a few years back. I love our downtown and what it has become. Development of Liberty is the next logical step.

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