P&Z indicates it will support new Canal St. apartment building

The Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) reached an informal consensus at its June 2 meeting to back the plan for a 68-unit apartment complex at 223 Canal St.

Developer John Guedes has proposed a three- to four-story complex with 106 parking spaces, both under the building and in outdoor, side parking lots.

Existing buildings would be demolished to make way for new construction. Guedes would grant rights-of-way to the city to widen Canal Street in the front and extend the Riverwalk in the rear, along the Housatonic River.

Site is more than an acre

The so-called Brennan property is almost 1.3 acres, and just north of the Avalon apartment complex.

Guedes now is just asking to modify the current concept plan for the property, and will need to still get more specific site plan approval. He was not at the June 2 meeting.

An informal consensus among P&Z members means that zoning staff has been directed to work on drafting an approval resolution, which will be discussed and voted on during a future meeting.

Parking and retail discussed

Some of the issues discussed at the meeting were parking, the absence of retail from the proposal, housing density, and architecture.

The parking ratio is 1.6 spaces per living unit, which is below the required two spaces per unit. But members said downtown areas often need fewer spaces, and public parking is in the vicinity.

Some have questioned why retail isn’t being included in the Canal Street parcels. Most P&Z members said the area probably isn’t attractive to retailers or restaurants yet but that should change as more development takes place.

It’s not realistic now, said P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins, pointing out the Shelton riverfront shouldn’t be compared to bustling, year-round sites like San Antonio.

Such mixed uses may be more suitable for larger parcels that are farther north on Canal Street, members said, with some members emphasizing the importance of not building exclusively residential in the Canal Street area.

Design concerns

P&Z members are not happy with the design of the apartment building, describing it as too boxy and institutional. They are hoping to alter the design as the process moved forward.

“We need to do some work on the architecture,” Parkins said.

Member Thomas McGorty said Guedes has shown willingness to work with the commission on the design.

The complex, tentatively called River Breeze, will consist of 47 two-bedroom units and 21 one-bedroom units. Rents are expected to be less than those at the Avalon because it will have fewer amenities.

Guedes developed the 103-unit Birmingham condo building and played a role in the 250-unit Avalon apartment complex, both also on Canal Street.

He also has plans to develop the former Spongex and Rolfite sites on Canal Street, just south of Bridge Street.

The plan for 223 Canal St. has changed considerably since Guedes received the original concept approval a number of years ago, due to the economy, market changes, an Army Corps of Engineers decision to prevent the canals from being filled in, and other factors.

The P&Z held a special meeting to consider the proposal, apparently to accommodate the developer who is seeking to meet a CHFA funding deadline.

Click below to read more about the proposed apartment project: