Conti Building revival gaining momentum in Shelton

The Conti Building on Howe Avenue in downtown Shelton.

The Conti Building on Howe Avenue in downtown Shelton.

The Conti Building downtown could be rezoned from its current industrial use to a zoning designation that better reflects the evolving uses taking place there.

A former sprawling industrial complex, the site now houses everything from baseball batting cages to a hula hoop store, offices to a monthly artisan market, and a gym facility to a bookstore.

The latest proposal is for a coffee shop on the Howe Avenue side.
Technically, retail and food-serving establishments are not allowed in the industrial zone — and hence the need to change its zoning classification.

Much of downtown Shelton is expected to be rezoned soon.
The Conti Building is between Howe Avenue and West Canal Street, and borders the large public parking lot near the Farmers’ Market Building. It has about 137,000 square feet of varied, usable space.

 

‘Great things are happening’

Dominick Cerritelli, whose family owns the building, recently spoke to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s (P&Z) Downtown Subcommittee about his ideas for the property.

“Great things are happening in our building,” Cerritelli said. “There’s a lot of vitality and new energy.”

 

‘Commerce and community’

New businesses are moving in, Cerritelli said, and the goal is to turn the Conti Building into “Shelton’s destination for commerce and community.”

Cerritelli would like to improve the Howe Avenue sidewalks and the building’s main entrance on Howe Avenue. He wants to alter outdoor signage, paint the roof area green for a more uniform area, and create a large outdoor mural on the wall near the parking lot.

“We finally feel ready to share a vision, and we now have one with the help of tenants,” he said.

He also wants to make sure the West Canal Street side traffic flow, tenant access and loading docks won’t be compromised as plans move forward for the Chromium Process property.

The Chromium Process plant is likely to be demolished this year and replaced with a surface parking lot, so the road network could be impacted.

 

Coffee shop being proposed

Judy Rockwell hopes to open a gourmet coffee shop in the former Planned Parenthood space next to the new location of the Written Words Bookstore.

“The building has a lot of charm,” Rockwell said. “I can feel the artistry of it.”

She wants to create a friendly gathering place that might offer occasional acoustic music and, in the future, perhaps also serve beer and wine.

Three Bridges Coffee Shop would sell coffee, tea, cold drinks, smoothies, and light food such as salads, sandwiches and bagels.
She wants to upgrade her exterior area, with an awning, planters and an outdoor seating area.

 

Consistency

Ruth Parkins, P&Z chairman, said she would like to see a comprehensive plan for the Conti Building. In reaction, the owners are expected to present one soon.

She likes that the building is gaining momentum, but worries it’s a bit of a hodgepodge with little uniformity — especially when it comes to outdoor signage. She wants to see consistency, and not a “piecemeal” approach.

Cerritelli, who was joined by sister Margo Esparo at the meeting, agreed the building’s appearance is critical. “Enhancing the aesthetic look of the building is very important,” he said.

Jim Ryan, Shelton Economic Development Corp. president, said the Conti Building is actually about eight or nine structures.

Ryan said years ago the thought was to knock it down and build a new shopping plaza, but now people see the “potential,” especially with the nearby Chromium Process building coming down soon.

“There is so much potential with that building,” said P&Z member Jimmy Tickey, whose sister owns a business in the complex.

 

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