Darien Place development readies to open with new apartments, shops

What was once the Darien Playhouse at 1077 Boston Post Road, originally built in 1927, has been repurposed to include retail shops on the first floor and four apartments on the second level.

What was once the Darien Playhouse at 1077 Boston Post Road, originally built in 1927, has been repurposed to include retail shops on the first floor and four apartments on the second level.

Susan Shultz /Hearst Connecticut Media /

DARIEN — A new mixed-development complex will soon be unveiled, as the Darien Place project readies to open.

What was once the Darien Playhouse at 1077 Boston Post Road, originally built in 1927, has been repurposed to include retail shops on the first floor and four apartments on the second level.

“We’re really excited for Darien Place to open and provide the residents of Darien new additions to downtown,” according to Joe Vaccaro, a partner at V20 Group, an area real estate developer. He’s also involved in a new mixed-use project at 1897 Boston Post Road and, in the last few years, has completed several others in the area.

The project was approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission last June, following concerns that were raised around the rear parking lot, which is shared by the Darien Sport Shop and Webster Bank.

The final plan involved reconfiguring the shared lot in order to add seven new spaces and allow work to move forward this past year. As a stipulation to the approval, needs for private parking enforcement could later be required at the expense of the owner, who purchased the property at the end of 2019.

The project created three separate retail spaces on the bottom floor, totaling a combined 4,350 square feet in space. The new tenants, which are scheduled to begin occupancy within the next several weeks, include Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club, which is moving from its current location at 1950 Post Road; Laurent Lighting and Design, which sells lighting material and furniture; and La Tagueria, a Mexican restaurant that currently operates in Greenwich.

Upstairs features three 675-square-foot apartments for rent, and a fourth apartment at 875 square feet that will be occupied this month.

“This is going to be a great addition to downtown,” P&Z Chair Steve Olvany said last year of the project.

Vaccaro said mixed-use properties such as this add to a more vibrant downtown area, particularly as they offer living space.

“Currently,” he said, “people head to work, shop or leisure downtown, but very few linger to live. This project adds to the current apartment offerings in downtown Darien.”

Vaccaro acknowledged there were challenges with bringing the project to fruition, but credited their track records and the partners they work with with making things run smoothly.

“Our biggest stumbling block has been supply chain issues as a result of COVID-19,” he said. “For example, it’s taken many months to procure electrical equipment required for Eversource’s upgrade requirement at Darien Place.”

Vaccaro noted that the creation of new red-brick walkways at the back of the building, matching those of adjacent properties, will help tie the neighborhood together.

“We think Darien Place is going to create a connection with the other businesses at that end of the Post Road that didn’t exist before,” he said.