By SHERIDAN CYR
It’s difficult to miss when driving down Queen Street towards Plainville. First Aldi supermarket cut the ribbon. Then, the Hartford Healthcare Urgent Care facility opened its doors.
Just last week, a construction crew was setting up Chick-fil-A’s drive-through menus and speakers, and the framework of another building is coming together on Southington’s newest plaza.
In August 2016, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved developer John Senese’s plan to build multiple buildings in that lot, which was formerly a Chinese restaurant and a plating factory which left some contaminated areas in its wake.
The recently opened urgent care facility was the former home of a convenience store.
“These sites are creating more revenue and more jobs for the town of Southington,” said Southington’s economic development director Lou Perillo. “It’s redevelopment of an unused area for the town and clean-up of a brownfield.”
The building going in next to the urgent care facility will be home to a Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mission BBQ, potentially a dentist, and soon to be developed behind the urgent care facility, a AAA Auto facility.
The AAA Auto facility will be one of the company’s new concepts, in which it will have not only their standard garages but also will include offices where professionals will assist with insurance and other financial services.
Perillo pointed out that having places like Mission BBQ and AAA’s most updated services expressing desire to expand business to Southington speaks volumes.
“Queen Street is still very strong and viable within the region,” Perillo said. “It shows us how important Queen Street is to us.”
The plaza that Senese is developing will carry on a traffic concept that has shown to be successful in other plazas on Queen Street. The whole plaza will be connected and have multiple traffic lights in which to get back on the road. It will connect to nearby plazas as well. Another plaza that has this feature is the nearby Price Chopper parking lot, which stretches down to Ocean State Job Lot to its left and Rite Aid pharmacy to its right.
“When businesses have this access agreement, it takes pressure and congestion off of route 10. This is much more convenient and safer for our residents,” said Perillo.
Longtime residents of Southington know firsthand how much the town has developed in the years leading up to date. Perillo reported at the last Town Council meeting that, “Without the development we’ve experienced, taxes would be higher, services would be reduced, or a combination of both.”
Perillo explained that economic development is a balance. “Southington is a desirable place to live, work and play, as evidenced by new home development—about 85 new homes per year,” he said. “We have added over $130 million of new investment over the past several years.”
The same concept is being used on West Street, another area that has seen development, and the PZC has been keeping a close eye it. The commission crafted a proclamation at their Dec. 5 meeting declaring support for an examination and analysis of the West Street corridor and for the securing of state funding and appropriate supplementary Southington Town funding to facilitate the street study.
“West Street is a vital and important corridor to the town of Southington, and it’s important to economic development in town,” said commissioner Paul Chaplinsky, Jr. when the proclamation was presented at the Committee of the Chairs meeting. Interim Town Manager Mark Sciota added that “these things require a push, politically.” The commission seeks support from state legislators who represent Southington, along with the approval and support of the Town Council.
“From Jude Lane down to the city of Bristol, I think there is going to be activity there in the years ahead,” said Chaplinsky. “It is incumbent upon us to take a step-ward approach, and to now engage in the next step.”
The commission agreed that the study was necessary for the safety of Southington’s residents.
Click below for a copy of the 2016 Southington Plan of Conservation Development:
For updates, visit: www.southington.org/pocd2016