Shelton P&Z reacts negatively to nonprofit use on Bridgeport Ave.

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has indicated it’s not interested in having a Goodwill store on lower Bridgeport Avenue.

Attorney Dominick Thomas, representing the Coco family, approached the P&Z with the idea of putting a store at 897-909 Bridgeport Ave. The land now houses six underutilized structures and previously was the site of Kim Bensen’s Weight Loss Center.

It is slightly south of the Stop & Shop, on the other side of the road.

The three-acre property was approved as a Planned Development District (PDD) for a large medical office a number of years ago, but the owner has never been able to get that project done due to weak demand for new medical office space, Thomas said.

The Goodwill store would have been 15,000 square feet. Thomas made an informal presentation on the idea, with no formal application filed.

Prime economic location

P&Z members said that, while they admire the work that Goodwill does, it is a nonprofit organization and the property therefore wouldn’t generate any property taxes.

They said the site is located in a prime economic location and should be used for tax-producing purposes. “The city of Shelton should not give up economic development,” P&Z Chairman Ruth Parkins said.

Member Anthony Pogoda agreed. “There is a place for everything,” he said.

Member James Tickey said the property is “on our main corridor where there is economic development,” and he would like to see a “tax positive” project there.

“It’s not a good fit,” member Virginia Harger said.

Traffic implications?

Members also were concerned about car traffic, with Pogoda calling Goodwill a heavy traffic generator. They said there are many Goodwill stores in the region and Shelton has other, more suitable sites for a Goodwill.

Goodwill operates a drop-off donation shed in the White Hills Shopping Center, but doesn’t have a retail store in the city.

Thomas said while Goodwill wouldn’t have to pay taxes, the P&Z had the option of seeking a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement with the organization.

‘Nice’ facilities

During his presentation, Thomas said Goodwill stores are “nice” facilities and often in “prime [retail] locations,” such as in Westport and Avon.

Thomas said the owner has tried to develop the site for medical offices as well as for other possibilities, but none made it to fruition. Non-medical possibilities have included age-restricted housing, a chain pharmacy, and expansion of the abutting Avalon Huntington apartment complex.

He also talked to hospitals and medical firms, noting if someone such as Bridgeport Hospital or St. Vincent’s Medical Center builds on the site it would be tax-free.

A nearby property is in an industrial zone that would allow retail uses, Thomas said.

Parkins said all economic uses are “cyclical” and perhaps the land hasn’t been marketed properly for medical office uses through the years.

Thomas said it’s now much cheaper to use existing medical space than to build new medical space,

If the land can’t be used by Goodwill, Thomas thinks the property owner likely will pursue a residential project. “At some point they have to make a decision,” he said. “It won’t be used for medical.”