New crosswalk, other improvements for Corbin
A new crosswalk was among the changes that was approved from the Corbin District site plan by a unanimous vote at the July 16 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.
The modified plans reflect the discussions Baywater Corbin Project representatives have had with the Connecticut Department of Transportation since the site plan was first approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission in November 2018.
At the July 16 meeting, attorney Robert Maslan gave a presentation on all the new changes to the project, which is a mixed-use redevelopment of downtown Darien. Its 7.17-acre site spans from Corbin Drive to the Bank of America building on the Post Road.
“You’ll be happy to know that in the middle of the block [along Boston Post Road by Webster Bank], there’s a new crosswalk,” Maslan said of the plan.
“On the project side of the Post Road, the drive that runs into the project is adjacent to the south of new crosswalk.”
On the other side, according to Maslam there’s a driveway that goes up into the big parking lot that’s shared with the Darien Sport Shop, the Darien Playhouse, and other buildings along that area.
“That’s a big plus,” said Maslan, in regard to the new crosswalk.
The crosswalk will have rectangular rapid flashing beacons for pedestrian signalization. Pedestrians will be able to push a button, wait until the beacon flashes, and walk across the road.
The revised plan also includes parallel parking stalls up along the project side of Post Road.
“The parking stalls run the entire distance between the exit ramp and Corbin Drive,” Maslan said. “There’s a gap in it for where this drive enters and then there’s a bus stop down at the lower end.”
There will be two northbound traffic lanes, according to Maslan.
“As you approach the private drive and again as you approach Corbin, the right lane is right turn only, which is, I think, a very desirable feature to have,” Maslan said.
He further said there are two southbound lanes between Brook Street, heading down toward Corbin.
“The left lane there is a left turn only lane into Corbin Drive,” he said. “That doesn’t exist now.”
A three-foot expansion of the Post Road was agreed upon.
Baywater Corbin Project Developer David Genovese said that the ConnDOT [Connecticut Department of Transportation] initially wanted the Post Road widened by six feet.
Working with the Town of Darien’s Planning & Zoning Commission, Darien Police Captain Anderson, and First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and the Board of Selectmen, “we negotiated with ConnDOT a reduction in their request,” Genovese told The Darien Times.
“We said that one of the primary objectives of this project is to make downtown Darien more pedestrian friendly to slow the traffic down a little bit, and to create these connections into other parking lots, and create these crosswalks that would make it more comfortable for people to walk around,” Genovese said at the meeting. “Widening the road generally would encourage people to travel faster.”
In regard to the three-foot expansion, “From the DOT, the logic was that that would allow a bike to co-habitate in the lane alongside a car,” he added.
The three-foot expansion requires that “we modify the buildings to a lesser extent and reduce the sidewalks to a lesser extent, though we were able to keep a minimum of 12-inch sidewalk width along the Boston Post Road.” Genovese told The Darien Times. “This is the same width as you would find in front of Grieb’s Pharmacy, the Sugar Bowl, Kirby and Company and Bluemercury, and it is acceptable to us.”
Building size reduction
Because of the “pushback of the facades” of the project buildings along the Post Road, there was some minor reconfiguration of the buildings which resulted in a net reduction of square footage of 847 feet, according to Maslan.
The retail dropped by 796 square feet. Total restaurant space increased by 870 and there was a 948-square-foot reduction in total residential space.
Work to begin soon
The Corbin redevelopment work is expected to begin in early 2020.
It had been 15 years since Baywater began discussing the need for the project and three years since it started working with Planning & Zoning.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Genovese said.
To see a one-minute video of the Corbin District, visit the July 16 Planning & Zoning Commission video Part 1, at 110 minutes.