Retail, office space coming to lower Bridgeport Avenue

The Planning and Commission is moving toward approving a retail and office development on lower Bridgeport Avenue proposed by R.D. Scinto Inc.

During discussion at the Feb. 13 meeting, members reached an informal consensus to support the plan and now P&Z staff will work on writing a draft approval resolution to be voted on in the future.

R.D. Scinto wants to build a one-story, 26,200-square-foot building at 899-905 Bridgeport Ave. The 2.9 acres site, just south of the Shoreline Veterinary Center, now has an assortment of small structures.

The development would have 131 parking spaces, which is more than required, and one driveway on Bridgeport Avenue. A public hearing on the application took place in January.

P&Z Chairman Virginia Harger called it a "positive proposal" that's appropriate for the property. She said vacant or underutilized buildings would be razed to make way for the project, and the development plan includes sufficient parking.

P&Z member James Tickey said it "looks like a quality development" and, at one story in height, isn't "too dense" for the parcel.

Members discussed the need for a sidewalk in front of the project along Bridgeport Avenue, and are expected to include that as a requirement in the approval. The developer has indicated a willingness to add a sidewalk.

P&Z Administrator Rick Schultz said it's time to take a more formal look at where sidewalks exist and are needed along the entire Bridgeport Avenue corridor. He suggested creating a map to guide the commission on sidewalk issues.

The applicant, R.D. Scinto, is seeking to modify a previously-approved Planned Development District for a hotel and restaurant on the parcel that were never built. R.D. Scinto has a contract to buy the property.

Robert A. Scinto, chief operating officer of R.D. Scinto Inc. and son of the well-known developer, pledged to construct "a very high-end multi-use development" at a recent P&Z meeting.

Scinto said the center should attract stores, restaurants, medical offices, other professional offices and various service-oriented firms. The building should have five to 10 tenants, he said.

Robeks juice bar

Also at the meeting, the P&Z approved the first tenant for the Scinto retail and office complex under construction at Bridgeport Avenue and Commerce Drive.

Robeks, a national juice and smoothie chain, will occupy 1,150 square feet of space at 100 Commerce Drive. The establishment will have three employees and be open six days a week.

Schultz said an application to put a Starbucks in the new complex is coming soon. He said he's informed the company the P&Z "will have a lot of questions about the operation." Starbucks already has a location farther north on Bridgeport Avenue.

R.D. Scinto Inc. knocked down the former Tetley Tea headquarters structure to build the development, which has required significant regrading. Driveways will be on both Bridgeport Avenue and Commerce Drive.