Revamped Corbin Project under review
DARIEN — The Planning and Zoning Commission has begun its review of the revamped Corbin Project, a redevelopment of Darien’s downtown area.
David Genovese, principal of the developer Baywater Properties, along with his team presented the updated plans to the commission on July 17.
“The first meeting was very constructive and very positive,” Genovese said. “We’re very encouraged that we should be able to work this out.”
The Corbin Project — a multi-use development that will bring a blend of restaurants, retail locations and social spaces downtown — will span from the Bank America building on the Post Road to the intersection of Corbin Drive and Old Kings Highway South. The revised site planning offers a larger public plaza area as well as more street-level parking.
Baywater Properties redesigned the plan after concerns were raised about the height of the buildings, parking and traffic issues. While working through the redesign for the Planning and Zoning Comission last year, Genovese and his team discovered the cost of the underground parking was greater than anticipated. The redesigned plan will lower those costs by 50 to 70 percent.
The significant change in the economic environment for retail companies also played a part in the new redesign.
“The reality is the world is changing very rapidly,” Genovese said. “The internet is having a change on the retail environment.”
Over the 15-year process to gain approval for the project, Genovese said it was important to adjust it based on those changes.
The site will now be 7.17 acres, slightly larger than the 5.47 acres previously proposed. Existing office space would grow from 45,961 to 81,200 square feet, while retail space would increase from 52,579 to 81,730 square feet. Additionaly, Baywater proposed 30 one-bedroom apartments and 87 two-bedroom apartments.
Genovese said the project will feature less underground parking — 805 spaces total, with 187 of them on street level.
The plan is to restructure the downtown area to make it more pedestrian-friendly, as well. This includes new walking paths between Centre Street and Corbin Drive to increase walkability downtown.
Genovese said updating the design has only been positive, despite the lengthy time it is taking to complete the project.
“We have in my opinion created a much better project for the town of Darien,” he said.
Baywater Properties also received approval from the architectural review board three weeks ago, according to Genovese.
“We’re hoping to begin construction in the spring of next year,” he said. “We are on pace to do that.”
The hearing on the Corbin Project will continue at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 31.