In September 2021, Jaasiel LLC received approval from Milford City Council to convert the former Rite Aid building in downtown Milford into three commercial tenant spaces on the first floor and ten residential apartments on the second floor. Because the company did not obtain a building permit prior to September 2022, they were required to return to council for reapproval of their conditional use request. Because there is no expiration on Board of Adjustment variances, the company was not required to go before them again.
“We simply had an affordability issue with the escalation of material costs which kind of put us in a bind,” Cameron Llewllyn, an engineer working with the owners on the project, said. “The market has stabilized now and it works for us to put this project together.”
The main tenant on the first floor will be a high-end laundromat similar to one located next to Gigante. Councilman Dan Marabello expressed concern about parking.
“I’m concerned a little about the parking. I know you have a waiver from next door as part of those 11 spots. But I’m concerned about when we’re starting to have a lot of stores opening up, food stores and we have some apartments just went up in the Penny Building,” Councilman Marabello said. “I’m concerned that if you have any tenants. 10 apartments, right? So it’s gonna be at least 10 cars. Do you feel that there’s enough parking given what’s happening in the city? As far as increased eateries. Where are all these people going to go to if the parking spaces are taken by tenants. That’s the whole idea to bring people into the city.”
Llewllyn explained that much of the downtown comprehensive plan in Milford was focused on a walkable town designed for those who did not own cars.
“The plan is for young people today that don’t have to own an automobile, don’t have to pay for car insurance, gas, the maintenance and the car itself. So these are small town-style apartments and those folks would live downtown and use public transportation to get to doctor’s appointments or walk to their appointments and to buy groceries and so on,” Llewllyn said. “And downtown Milford is at a point now where it can sustain that. The folks that come to the laundromat typically, we have a facility just like this in Georgetown, and all of the doors are power operated with motion sensors because they typically have two laundry baskets and they’ve got to prop one with their chin or to kick a door open. We give them a power door. So our goal is to serve the downtown Milford community with a walkable style facility. Both for the folks that live upstairs and the folks that work downstairs will be part of that downtown fabric.”
Llewllyn also explained that the project included ten off-street parking spaces and that there was a public parking lot across the street. Councilman Marabello stated that he understood there was some off-street parking but that the public lot across the street was sometimes taken up by other commercial businesses, such as Davis, Bowen & Friedel whose offices were about a block away.
“I just want to chime in on Councilman Marabello’s comments,” Councilman Mike Boyle said. “We see that the other building we approved a bunch of parking spots for apartments are already taking up a great deal in that parking lot across the street. The argument was the same that this is a walkable community. I’m not questioning what the applicant is saying. I think as far as Mr. Marabello said, we may be in a crunch time where we need to reinvigorate the parking study for the town to address this as we encourage commercial buildings to be developed.”
Councilman Todd Culotta stated after voting yes for the request that every time council looked at a request like this downtown, parking was mentioned.
“Downtown is growing,” Councilman Culotta said. “People living in downtown is a good thing. There is plenty of parking in the area. We own a parking lot not even a block to the left that is not always full. So, I do believe we’re still fine and we can’t just keep looking at everything from a parking standpoint. This historic city was built long before there were cars. Now, if we’re going to have multi-use downtown, we will have to allow for that.”
The request was approved unanimously.
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