By JEN CARDINES
The long journey of the Greenway Commons development took a promising turn at the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16 with the approval of Meridian Development’s special permit modification.
The modification changes the number of approved units from 263 to 245 with the intention to build 180 leased units and 65 condominium units at 167 Center Street, 217 Center Street, and 66 High Street.
Nick Minoia, founding partner of Diversified Realty Advisors, gave an elaborate presentation on the luxurious properties that the company has produced over the years, finishing with the updated site plan for the Greenway Commons space at 167 and 217 Center Street, and 66 High Street. The proposed plan was a slightly amended version of the proposal made to the PZC in earlier meetings.
The main issue in the past was parking, a key factor in the project that Commissioner Paul Chaplinsky emphasized in the July 19th meeting. The most recent meeting, however, contained a site plan that included the retail, residential, and parking accommodations to meet the zoning requirements.
When Commission Chair Mike DelSanto opened the floor to public comment, many expressions were made regarding the more- than- decade long project.
Former Park Board member Joe LaPorte said, “We have to approve this. If we don’t approve this we’re gonna be looking at a bad sight for years to come.” Speaking in favor of the project, he also mentioned that, “they’ve done their homework,” referring to Diversified Realty.
Art Secondo spoke highly of Howard Schlesinger (Meridian Development Partners) telling the commission board, “I met Howard 10 years ago when I was President of the Chamber of Commerce…After 10 years, I think Howard has brought his major league team to Southington and proven he’s for real.” Secondo also added, “Personally… I can say this project to me is just as important as when in 1942 Pratt & Whitney came to Southington and everybody said, ‘Wow this is gonna be big’.”
Alongside the positive words aimed at the project, concerns rose from the crowd regarding development and competition with existing businesses and potential additions to existing sewage problems in town.
Minoia said that he sees food-related stores entering the complex, because he sees retail as an online industry these days. He said that retailers will service the residents of Southington and be local specialties. Further, he confirmed that the residencies in the units would be high-end and profitable.
Ultimately, the PZC made a 6-1 ruling in favor of the project, allowing the progression to move forward. The vacancy at Greenway Commons will soon be filled with high-end apartments, condominiums, and various retailers after many compromising years of strategic planning.