LETTER: Retail is an essential part of Canal Street revitalization
At the May 12 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the developer presented his plan for the parcel adjacent to, and north of, the Avalon building between Canal Street and the Riverwalk.
The master plan for the riverfront calls for that property to contain office space, retail, and 10 townhouses. Instead, the developer presented a plan for a drab brick building containing 68 rental units with far less parking than required by regulation.
The original plan for a vibrant Riverwalk as a destination site with restaurants, ice cream shops and retail outlets seems to have been lost on developers and city officials.
Permitting only multifamily housing with wrought iron fencing to isolate the Riverwalk does a real disservice to the future of downtown Shelton. Instead of fencing, the wrought iron should be used to make balconies for offices and townhouses.
I believe that an active Riverwalk will bring people from Huntington, Trumbull, Monroe and the Naugatuck Valley towns to eat and shop.
Once the city and state taxpayer-funded completion of Canal Street occurs and the issues are eventually resolved with the railroad to reopen the Wooster Street crossing, developers will flock to the area with creative projects to take advantage of the river views and Riverwalk.
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Given all the public money being spent in this area to the benefit of the current landowners, I believe that any development should require not just the Riverwalk right-of-way, but completion of their section to the city specification.
Additionally, each developer should be required to add funds to an account set up by the city to refurbish the canal locks at the north end of the planned Riverwalk.
Shelton only has one chance to get this development right. Every project between Avalon and the locks should be required to provide retail space along the Riverwalk.
Unlike residential units where people want to park as close as possible to their units, riverfront visitors will be willing to park in the municipal lot near the Shelton Farmers Market and walk to dining and shops, as proven by Savannah, Ga.; San Antonio, Texas; and many other cities.
There is no rush for development and no need to approve bad projects. Let’s wait until the completion of Canal Street and require development that leads to a rejuvenated downtown Shelton.
Editor’s note: Bill Dyer is a Shelton Conservation Commission member, but wrote this letter as an individual to represent his personal views.