NAUGATUCK — The developers of a proposed retail and office complex on a well-known downtown land tract called Parcel C will modify plans to alleviate concerns from some borough officials.
Developer John Lombard attended Monday’s Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation meeting at Town Hall and told the quasi-public board that he plans to change some of the exterior of the building. Select members of the NEDC and the Zoning Commission had expressed concerns about the materials being used on the development at the corner of Maple and Water streets.
Lombard and his development partner, Rob Oris, had planned to use stucco on all of the exterior. Now, Lombard says, they will use stone on the first 4 feet of the buildings from the ground up and brick on the next 6 feet.
“I am pleased that Mr. Lombard came to the meeting with plans for stone and brick to make the design more compatible with the architecture of downtown Naugatuck,” said Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, who sits on the NEDC board.
The Zoning Commission, which is in the midst of a months-long hearing process on the project, has expressed concerns that the stucco material does not fit with the historic buildings in downtown Naugatuck. They had asked to see modifications to the plan, and until Monday night, it appeared the developers were not willing to change course.
But Lombard told the NEDC board Monday night he had just gotten new designs drawn up right before the meeting that called for stone and brick. He said he sent them to Oris for review a half-hour before the meeting.
“I took the initiative to make those changes myself. I have to talk to my partner about them, but I think he’ll easily be sold on them,” Lombard told the NEDC board.
Lombard said the new drawings combine the ideas he and Oris originally had for the building and what the Zoning Commission recommended.
“We proposed the original building as a new breath, completely different than anything Naugatuck has right now. Now we’re calling it blending the old with the new. We’ll bring you a little bit of old Naugatuck on the first floor and the breath of new life on the upper floors,” Lombard said.
Before the meeting on Monday, Oris told a reporter that using brick would be cost prohibitive and that he thought the type of stucco material that was planned is affordable, aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.
Although he had a light colored roof on the drawings, Lombard said he would advocate for a darker colored roof for fear that it would discolor.
“The issue I have with this color or any light color that we’ll see anywhere in Connecticut is acid rain. Within a very short period of time you’ll see a lot of staining there. Does anyone ever actually maintain that? Does it look lousy, does it look like the roof will have to be replaced in two years of three years,” Lombard said.
NEDC President and CEO Ron Pugliese said he thought Monday’s meeting was productive, and he is confident the project will move forward soon.
He said he is not sure the Zoning Commission will approve the plans at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall.
“There might be some more materials that they need to see before approving, but we’re confident they will approve in the near future,” he said.
Lombard said he and Oris are ready to go once they receive approval.
“If we gain our approval on the 18th we are committed to go into the ground quickly,” Lombard said.
The NEDC board voted to give its blessing to the changes Lombard proposed.
The project calls for a 30,000-square-foot medical office building anchored by Saint Mary’s Hospital of Waterbury and a bank branch with a drive-up window.
Plans also call for a second 5,000-square-foot building on the property. However, this building needs a tenant before it can be designed, Lombard said.
“We have to wait because our intent is to get a single tenant to take the entire 5,000-square-feet and it’s going to really be their style. If it’s a restaurant, and it’s a national restaurant, they have their own look,” Lombard said. “Normally national tenants have four or five prototypes to offer a city or town. So you’ll be able to really put your finger on the one that suits you the best.”
Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said the building can also be designed and built to fit the tenant. The proposed 5,000-square-feet is only the minimum requirement and in the building needs to be an additional 2,000-square-feet the parcel can accommodate that, Fitzpatrick said.
Lombard said he and Oris have been in talks with a few restaurants, but have run into problems due to parking. While the parcel will provide ample parking, the restaurants have voiced concerns that there will not be enough that are very close to the building, Lombard said.
“You can have a lot of parking, but if you need an Uber ride to get to the front door it’s not a good place to be,” Lombard said.
Naugatuck officials have tried and failed to bring something new to the property, which once housed much of the footwear division of the former rubber industry here, for more than 30 years.
“This project is important not only for economic development purposes, but it also will be important for people in the community to finally see a shovel in the ground and the project being built,” Pugliese said.
Luke Marshall contributed to this article.