Shelton developer says downtown plan lacks sufficient parking

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — John Guedes’s plans to redevelop the former Chromium Process site would further strain an already limited parking situation downtown, according to a fellow downtown developer.

Angelo Melisi, Jr., the developer of Bridge Street Commons I and II in the heart of downtown, is calling on the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny Guedes’s plans, as presently submitted, to construct a four-story building with 30 apartments and 34 parking spaces on land presently used for city parking.

“Given the current situation in downtown Shelton, and in the immediate vicinity of this proposal, this is simply not enough parking,” Melisi wrote in a letter submitted to the commission.

Melisi said he supports the development of more apartments and commercial space downtown, but wrote “I do object to the construction of more apartments and more commercial space without adequate parking.”

While praising city officials and the commission for its efforts in helping revitalize downtown, Melisi said the need for parking has been significantly underestimated.

“I am very concerned that downtown might become a victim of its own success unless steps are taken to ensure that all new construction has adequate parking facilities,” Melisi said.

“From my own experience, I am certain that allowing 30 new apartments and 8,350 square feet of commercial space, with only 32 parking spaces, would be a serious mistake,” he added. “(It) would impose significant hardship both on my properties and those of other landowners in the area.”

Melisi’s letter was entered in the record during the commission’s public hearing Wednesday on Guedes’ plan to construction Chromium Commons, a four-story structure with first-floor commercial space and 30 apartments on the top floors, at 113 Canal St., former site of the Chromium Process manufacturing building.

Guedes — who along with his partner Biagio Barone has an agreement in place to purchase the site from the city — is seeking approval from the commission to have the property designated a Planned Development District (PDD).

Guedes said his development will not have an adverse impact on parking downtown.

“No issues,” Guedes said when asked about any negative impacts.

Guedes also noted that the new development sits next to the Conti lot, which is used as a community parking lot.

“The lot where Chromium Commons is proposed to be built is currently used as a parking lot,” Melisi said. “I counted 45 cars parked there at noontime (Feb. 15), and the lot is usually completely full at night.

“Once parking is no longer available, the parking situation will be even worse, because the available parking in the area will be reduced, while the demand for parking will be increased,” Melisi added.

Guedes said he was “surprised” by Melisi’s stance on the application as presented.

“Out of the entire City, he was the only one to show concern,” Guedes said. “The fact is that the City issued an RFP (request for proposal). I responded to it, and the Board of Alderman voted to accept it and sell it. At that time, if he had an interest in (the property) he had the opportunity to respond to the RFP. He did not. The site is not a city parking lot. It is a redevelopment site.”

Last year, the Board of Aldermen approved the sale of the property to Guedes and Barone for $100,000. As part of the agreement, the developers will pay $137,500 for brick pavers for the River Walk extension being built at the rear of 129 Canal St.

The original purchase price for the property was $250,000, but Guedes and Barone reduced their offer to $100,000 after learning that a portion of the former Chromium Process site — listed as 125 Canal St. — had been sold by the city to Melisi.

Melisi said Bridge Street Commons I (50 Bridge St.) and Bridge Street Commons II (427 Howe Ave.) occupy the entire block across Canal Street from Guedes’ proposed development. Between the two sites, Melisi said there are 116 apartments and 8,500 square feet of commercial space and 154 parking spots.

“My experience has shown that these 154 spaces are not enough,” said Melisi, adding that he is also acquiring the lot at 426 Howe Ave. (at the corner of Howe and Center Street) to provide an additional 24 spaces to be used for the restaurant, Chaplin, opening in the soon-to-be-completed building.

Melisi said he has found cars regularly parking on both sides of both parts of Canal Street, including in no parking zones, and both sides of Center Street.

“On an almost daily basis I have unauthorized parkers in Commons I and Commons II parking areas,” he said. “Last Friday evening, a prospective tenant told my office that she had spent 45 minutes looking for a parking space.”

The former Chromium Process site, which has been environmentally remediated, borders on Canal Street East and Canal Street West and is adjacent to the Housatonic Rail Co. and a few hundred feet from the Housatonic River. The site is currently used as a parking lot and is within walking distance of public parking facilities.

The city is in the process of leasing the parking spaces on the Eversource property, located across the street from the now completed Cedar Village at Carroll’s. Those additional 70 spaces would put the available parking spaces downtown at about 500. The city also leases parking spaces at the Conti building.