Summit Development has acquired a long-vacant IGA supermarket property in Fairfield and signed a lease to bring The Goddard School, a preschool franchise, there in time for the 2019-20 school year.
The Goddard School, which provides a comprehensive play-based curriculum for children 6 weeks to 6 years old, signed a 15-year lease with Summit for the former retail property at 1280 Stratfield Road – one of the major thoroughfares in the Stratfield Village neighborhood.
The Goddard School plans to convert the 9,700-square-foot freestanding building into its newest location, with an eye on opening Sept. 1. Monroe Partnership is the architect. Brett Sherman, senior vice president of Angel Commercial real estate of Southport, represented Summit Development in acquiring the property.
For more than 50 years, the location, which is zoned for child care use, was home to the Stratfield IGA Market. Since closing in 2006, the nearly 1-acre property at the corner of Fairfield Woods Road has remained vacant. A Walgreens was proposed for the site, but the use was ultimately turned down by the town.
Fairfield Director of Economic Development Mark Barnhart said that over the years attempts to find a new grocer were unsuccessful. At one point responding to another proposal, the Town Planning and Zoning Commission amended the permitted uses to include child care. While that plan never moved forward, the use is now permitted.
Summit Development founder CEO, President and Principal Felix Charney said the building has been “just a shell” for a number of years. “We will build out the exterior and interior, do landscaping and build a playground,” he said.
Charney said the connection with Goddard came about after Southport-based Summit bought Danbury’s Matrix Corporate Center – where Goddard has a school – for $17 million in October. That school had been looking to move out of the Matrix – now called The Ridge at Danbury – but will remain there as Summit begins renovations to that property.
Charney said his company and the school will work closely with the town and with the Stratford Village Neighborhood Association as the design for the school is developed. The Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that recently received a $650,000 grant from the state for the Four Corners Project, which focuses on streetscape and pedestrian improvements to the intersection where the school will be located.
James McCusker, a leader of the Neighborhood Association, said the organization is pleased that a new use has been found and that the redesign of the building is a welcome step. “The Four Corners, as the location is known, is at the heart of the neighborhood,” he said. “The property has deteriorated and become a blight on our entire neighborhood. Summit has a great track record of owning and developing beautiful properties and we are excited that we will have one in our neighborhood.”
Goddard has 460 schools in 36 states with a total enrollment of 65,000 children. Founded in 1988, the school is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. There are 10 locations in Connecticut, which in addition to Danbury include Brookfield, Monroe, Westport and Wilton.