Sanda’s Cleaners, Dolce Nail Salon, and Vavala’s Deli are among the small businesses in Noroton Heights that are not a part of the redevelopment project taking place around them.

While they welcome the new customers these redevelopments could bring, they also want to remind people they are still there and ready for their business.

The redevelopment of Noroton Heights includes razing the existing buildings west of Palmer’s Market and building two three-story buildings with 59 residential units and first-floor retail, complete with a public plaza. It was originally approved in May 2017 by Planning & Zoning.

Sanda Chun, owner of Sanda’s Cleaners and Dolce Nail Salon, owns the property of both businesses and will be remaining where they currently are. Sanda said, “This is our permanent location. A lot of people think every business in the area is moving or closing, but we’re staying here.”

She expressed concern that the process could affect business because regular customers are uncertain of what’s to come and possible new customers don’t even bother to do business with them.

Sanda has been running her cleaners for over 38 years and with locations in New Canaan, Rowayton, and Cos Cob, the Darien location is her main one due to its longevity and size. She purchased the property to avoid being kicked out by any developers, therefore, saving her business.

“This is our lifetime invested business that my family has been running. As everyone knows in town, we’ve been through a lot with the big flood in 2007 and smaller ones after that but we have survived through peoples support and everybody trying to help, so we have been able to survive through all those obstacles.”

To serve their customers, they offer pick up and delivery and have a 24 hour drop box due to popular demand and to save their customers time. Sanda is also a dressmaker, who makes dresses for many Darien residents for prom, weddings, and graduation. “Our customers need good service from us and we appreciate their business, so we’ve always worked together. We try our best, I’m so thankful for people in town.”

She is still hopeful for what the project can bring to them. “I’m hoping what they’re doing with the development project they will take care of some flood issues as well as the town itself because there’s plenty to do.”

Owner of Vavala’s Deli, Danny Porcelli, also spoke about how his business will remain where it is. He said that Vavala’s is not a part of the redevelopment project, since they are owned by Federal Realty.

Federal Realty has proposed a separate redevelopment project for the area. In Sept. 2017, Planning & Zoning approved the The Commons at Noroton Heights, a mixed-use development that will bring 122 new apartments and a retail makeover to the portion of Noroton Heights containing Stop & Shop & Walgreens.

Business for Valvala’s has luckily not been affected by the project —in fact they have had construction workers from the project coming in —but a lot of people have questioned the deli’s future.

“I hope the project will bring in more customers once everything is completed. I just want everybody to know that we’re staying open and hope there’s no disruption in serving the community because everything’s going to be the same over at Vavala’s.”