Two substantial projects presented during a special meeting Tuesday night could change the face of downtown Darien and the Noroton Heights area.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, in tandem with the Architectural Review Board, listened to two presentations, one of which involves a retail and residential development along the east side of the Post Road, just north of I-95, and another that centers on the Noroton Heights shopping center across from the train station.

The owners of Palmer’s Market on Heights Road are planning a three-phase project that will transform their property into a nearly 35,000-square-foot retail and restaurant space with 60 to 80 residential units on the second flood.

“We’re so excited to finally share the progress of our project tonight,” Greg Palmer said.

“We are in a master planning phase … and we are now moving into schematic design,” said Joe Schiffer, principal of New Haven-based Newman Architects.

Along with two underground parking garages, the plan also calls for a central square situated between the new structures.

“We like to call it a town square, as close to the railroad station as possible,” Schiffer said.

“The connectivity we do in everything is vital to making this community work,” he said, noting that given its close proximity to the station and I-95, this spot represents “the face of Darien and the Noroton Heights community to a lot of people.”

Questions were raised about how the project would impact traffic in the area.

“We all know that’s a ridiculously congested area as it stands,” Commissioner Kevin Cunningham said.

“Once the program is set, then we’ll do a detailed traffic analysis,” said John Block, senior vice president of the Shelton-based engineering firm, Tighe & Bond.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Susan Cameron noted traffic will no longer be exiting onto Hollow Tree Ridge Road, as it currently does.

“That intersection will be greatly improved,” she said.

Still, she noted, “this whole area does have a lot of traffic now. It doesn’t flow very well.”

Commissioners suggested that, as the project progresses, the impact felt on roads beyond the general vicinity be examined as well.

The Baywater Properties project, led by David Genovese, will include 73,000-square feet of retail space, 98,000-square feet of office space and about 133,000-square feet of apartment space comprising 76 units across six buildings. The project runs up to the southwest side of Corbin Drive, where a five-story office building is planned in the style of large pre-war constructions.

“What we’d like to do is have taller buildings added to the site to bring more people to the downtown,” said Gary Brewer, architect with New York City-based Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

Genovese noted that part of the motivation to move the project along quickly was the proposed construction of a mall near Route 7 and I-95 in Norwalk.

“Higher buildings could poke above the tree line from I-95 and attract shoppers,” Brewer said.

Marian Castell, town historian and ARB member, was the only official to speak against details in either plan.

“Darien’s buildings are little Victorian (places), not some great, long expanse like that,” she said of the proposed designs.

She pointed out that, contrary to what Brewer was stating about Darien having had mills and these buildings being in that spirit, this was not the case.

“It reflects a part of New England we’re not part of,” she said of the designs, explaining they didn’t have “the tone of this town.”

Town resident Chris Noe raised questions about the safety of such tall buildings.

“I think it’s really big,” he said. “I’m flattered that the investors want to make this size commitment in Darien, (but) I think the scale seems to be of Merritt 7.”