After a two-year hiatus, Darien’s three big building projects are back in action, First Selectman says

Darien First Selectman Monica McNally poses in her Darien Town Hall office in Darien, Conn., on Tuesday December 21, 2021.

Darien First Selectman Monica McNally poses in her Darien Town Hall office in Darien, Conn., on Tuesday December 21, 2021.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — After two years of delay on construction because of the pandemic, progress on major commercial and housing projects in town is starting up again.

During her first State of the Town address, First Selectman Monica McNally highlighted milestones for three large and long-awaited developments in town: the Darien Commons, the Corbin District and the Noroton Heights Shopping Center — each of which promises to bring dozens of new residential units to town, along with space for new retail establishments and restaurants.

McNally’s comments came during an event coordinated by the Darien Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The Corbin District, a $100 million downtown project that has received much buzz both in town and across the state, will bring 116 units of housing to Darien, she said.

Groundwork has been laid for three mixed-use buildings in Phase One of the project, with the first already framed on the corner of Old King’s Highway South and Corbin Drive. Two other buildings will be completed in late 2022, McNally said.

The first residents there are expected to move in sometime in 2024.

“I'm sure you've seen a lot of activity there,” McNally said, adding that “The north east side of Corbin is starting to take shape.”

Demolition of the current buildings at Noroton Heights Shopping Center will begin “very soon” with construction to immediately follow, she added.

That development, which has been in the works since 2017 and stalled during 2020, was approved earlier this week by the Planning and Zoning commission.

And for smaller-scale rental units, like those at The Darien Place, demand has been high, with most units reserved just days after going on the market, McNally said.

With developments raising renewed worries about traffic, McNally said the town is also eyeing improvements to traffic infrastructure.

A state grant will fund one project to add an additional traffic lane to the intersection of Noroton Road and West Avenue. Work on that will begin by April or May and wrap up by the end of 2022, she said.

During the talk, some community members questioned the need for any multi-residential development, voicing concerns about potential overcrowding in schools.

“Why do we want such a densely-populated city when we're bordering on Norwalk and Stanford, which are mostly apartments?” one attendee asked.

McNally responded that “People move here and they want to live in Darien, they don't want to live in Stamford or Norwalk.”

McNally added that residents with concerns about school enrollment projections should provide public comment to Board of Education members as a way to influence the school district’s decisions around class size.

“They really do need to hear what you're thinking,” McNally said.