“When things are going good, they just keep going good.” So said Fuzzy Zoeller, the champion golfer who may not have been a grammarian but apparently had a knack for the occasional Yogi Berra-ism.
Zoeller’s aphorism apparently applies to Trumbull. Steadily growing before the Covid-19 pandemic, the town is still “going good,” as it moves forward with realizing an impressive array of commercial and residential developments.
“Investment drives investment,” Trumbull Economic and Community Development Director Rina Bakalar – herself no slouch at turning a phrase – told the Business Journal. “We’ve been fortunate in that developers are still moving ahead with their projects, and more people are looking to locate to our town.”
One of those new residents, Amazon, opened its delivery station in a formerly vacant 114,000 square foot warehouse at 7120 Main St. in July; the $7.5 million purchase added 150 permanent jobs. Despite the retail behemoth’s general reticence to speak with the press, Bakalar said it “has been very communicative and proactive with our economic development team.”
Amazon is currently working with the town’s Planning & Zoning to potentially readjust its entryway; “So far has been a welcome addition to the town,” Bakalar said. “And the facility looks so much better.”
Also showing improvement is its Trumbull Center where after what seemed to be several years of negotiations, a CVS has finally opened and will be joined by a Starbucks, featuring drive-thru service, soon. Those developments “are key to unlocking some other positive changes there,” Bakalar said.
Less of a slam-dunk has been the future of 48 Monroe Turnpike. The long-vacant 250,000-square-foot office building and parking garage — which represented more than half of the empty space in Trumbull for years following United Healthcare’s 2015 relocation to Shelton – was purchased in 2018 for $3.4 million.
Developer 48 Monroe Turnpike, which plans a mixed 55-and-older development on the property, was granted a zoning change in January 2019 from business/commercial to industrial/residential – a move that is the subject of a legal challenge by three residents of the Woodland Hills condominium complex on the opposite side of Route 111
Their suit, which maintains the new development will have an adverse impact on property values and traffic, was rejected by Fairfield District Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe in April; he also denied an appeal of that decision in May. The plaintiffs are now awaiting word on its appeal of that decision by the Appellate Court.
“We should hear soon whether (the Appellate Court) will hear it,” Bakalar said, “but the project is still in play and moving forward.”
Also still moving forward – albeit at a slower rate — is the Westfield Trumbull mall’s plan to add a 260-unit apartment complex. After a public meeting in July, P&Z had a follow-up scheduled for Aug. 19. But when additional information requested by P&Z finally arrived late on Aug. 17, the commission decided to postpone until Sept. 3 in order to allow what it considered the proper amount of time to review the latest materials.
Bakalar noted that the property is already zoned for the 260 units; the concerns, she said, are mostly about traffic and access.
“The mall still feels it’s really important for its future,” she said. “The retail industry in some ways is collapsing, and we’ve all seen the news about stores closing.”
Some citizens are also concerned about the potential impact of additional housing on area schools, Bakalar said; however, with all of the proposed units being one- and two-bedroom apartments, she added, such fears may be unfounded.
In the meantime, other new arrivals to Trumbull include medical laundry company ImageFirst Healthcare Laundry, expected to open later this year at 50 Commerce Drive following P&Z approval; Unique Beauty Salon, which has opened a 1,600-square-foot spot at 2 Daniels Farm Road; Springtide Child Development at 126 Monroe Turnpike; and, potentially, a medical group to 57 Monroe Turnpike, until recently home to Chip’s Family Restaurant.
“Even with all that’s going on,” Bakalar said, “none of our developers have postponed projects, and none of them lost their financing, which is something you can’t say in some towns. They’re all moving forward.”
In other words, they just keep going good.
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