Construction under way for Noroton Heights self storage facility, first of several possible changes for neighborhood

Photo of Justin Papp

DARIEN — With site plans for the redevelopment of Noroton Heights expected to come before Planning and Zoning this year, change in the area seems imminent.

But across the street from the proposed development, the wheels of change are already turning.

Construction began in December on a 3.7-acre parcel — adjacent to the Interstate 95 rest stop and Avalon Darien, and across the street from the Noroton Heights railroad station — on Hollow Tree Self Storage, a 112,000- square-foot high-end self-storage facility set to open in spring 2018.

“We’ve got one foundation in and we’re doing the site work on the second one now,” said developer John Hertz, of Darien-based Hertz Construction.

Hertz purchased the property in August for $3.8 million after receiving approval for the project from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“It doesn’t create traffic, or noise or pollution,” Hertz said. “It was one of the largest undeveloped pieces in town, and now it’s zoned for a very low-impact use.”

The climate-controlled facility will include 700 to 900 units of varying sizes, many of which will be accessible by car, and two apartments for live-in property managers. There is space for RVs, boats and wine storage. Energy collected from a solar carport will help power the building. Architect Chris LaVigna, of LaVigna Associates, is designing the facility, the facade of which is meant to partially blend in with the homes along Hollow Tree Ridge Road.

“It’s a large building with an office building in front that’s meant to look like a residence. So on Hollow Tree the residence blocks the larger building and softens the look,” Hertz said.

Seizing on the facility’s proximity to the Noroton Heights station, 16 commuter parking spaces will be available for lease.

Hertz said, given the prospect of redevelopment in Darien and surrounding communities, coupled with the trend toward moving around, self-storage facilities have become increasingly popular in recent years. Similar facilities exist in Stamford and Norwalk, one of which Hertz developed in the 1980s, but this will be the first facility of its kind in Darien.

“People are downsizing. There’s thousands and thousands of apartments being built brand new in Norwalk and Stamford and there’s quite a few being planned in Darien. Just in Noroton Heights, there’s a plan for 200 apartments or maybe more that are on the table,” Hertz said.; @justinjpapp1