Redevelopment of Howe Avenue has taken its latest step, with zoning officials formally approving a Planned Development District for 502 Howe Ave., present home of Webster Bank.

Al DaSilva, the property developer, needs only to submit a final detailed development plan for approval before beginning construction of the new five-story structure with first-floor commercial space — including space approved for a drive-thru — and four levels with a total of 56 market-rate apartments.

The commission unanimously granted the PDD request, and in the resolution of approval, zoners stated that the development would be consistent with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development related to “balanced growth and improvements for downtown Shelton.

“The overall proposal is well integrated with the downtown area and will result in a major development proposal on a significant visual corner in downtown,” stated the resolution.

Parking demands will be met by the proposed on-site spots and supplemented by available public parking spaces, according to the commission’s resolution.

“Projected traffic will not overload the street circulation system in the area,” stated the resolution. “Existing and proposed utility services are adequate for the proposed development.”

“I think this is a very good project,” said commissioner Jimmy Tickey. “It is great to see the vision of downtown with mixed use, commercial and residential. I welcome the change to that block. This is good economic development for our downtown.”

Fellow commissioner Mark Widomski also praised DaSilva’s development plan but asked that he also work with the city administration on attempting to attract professional businesses to fill space as well.

“I see we are getting a lot of mixed use … we’re getting retail, restaurants, but we seem to be lacking in professional uses,” said Widomski. “I would hope that you could work with SEDC and (Mayor Mark Lauretti) to do something to entice more professional offices to come into the downtown. It would help increase foot traffic downtown and help to rebuild our downtown.”

Zoning consultant Anthony Panico said that the city would always welcome commercial uses but that interest is dictated by the marketplace.

“We will continue to try, but that would be best done on the marketing and promotional end,” said Panico. “If the market is there, we will certainly accommodate that.”

DaSilva’s project calls for 24 studio units, 28 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units. During the public hearing on this plan, DaSilva added there will be more than enough parking spots, with an average of 1.6 per unit, and the extra parking adds to the city’s available spaces downtown.

The bank would have a walk-in ATM and drive-thru ATM as well as a small office space for meetings, said Da Silva, but the location would no longer be a full-service bank once construction is complete. A Dunkin’ Donuts, with a drive-thru, was to be the other tenant but that is no longer the case.

Interim P&Z Administrator Ken Nappi said the zoning staff is preparing specifications for downtown developments which would bring uniformity to brickwork, lighting and tree plantings for all future plans.

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