CVS' plans for restaurant site take shape

Norwich - Plans for a new CVS with drive-through service on West Main Street have been submitted to the city planning office and are slated for a Sept. 21 review by the Commission on the City Plan.

The project at 372 West Main St. - the former home of Olympic Pizza restaurant and current home of Medusa Salon - has been anticipated throughout the summer by city planners. But Rhode Island developer Gershman Brown Crowley, Inc. first had to reach an agreement with the state Department of Transportation on the proposed traffic pattern for the pharmacy.

Project attorney William Sweeney said if the city planning commission approves the plan on Sept. 21, the developers would purchase the property and likely begin construction next spring. The CVS now located in a plaza at the intersection of West Main Street at Asylum Street would move into the new facility.

The plans call for tearing down the existing building and two houses on the 1.78-acre property and building a 12,900-square-foot building. Because the property is steeply sloped, construction crews would first have to excavate to create a flat lot level to the street. The project received zoning permits in March to build a rear retaining wall that exceeds 20 feet in height in places. Sweeney said designs have been altered to move the retaining wall forward, away from neighboring properties on Mt. Pleasant Street.

The traffic pattern would allow vehicles to enter the property from West Main Street, circle around the building at the center of the property and exit onto Mt. Pleasant Street at the side, taking advantage of the traffic light already in place at the intersection of West Main and Mt. Pleasant streets. Traffic also could enter the store from Mt. Pleasant Street. But anyone exiting onto busy West Main Street would be allowed to only turn right.

Peter Davis, the city's director of planning and development, said the proposed traffic pattern is a great improvement for the four-lane commercial strip nicknamed "crash alley." Left turns into and out of businesses are especially difficult, and the plan would give that traffic a red light, Davis said.

Current building owners Stephan and Debi Nousiopoulos have been awaiting the CVS plan eagerly, as they too have plans to relocate their businesses. Debi Nousiopoulos owns the Medusa Salon at the existing building. She is considering two possible locations in Norwich to move the salon, which has six hair stylists.

Stephan Nousiopoulos has a career in restaurant development, ownership and management. He owned the former Olympic Pizza before selling it several years ago to concentrate on his architectural business. Nousiopoulos is working on the expansion of the Harp & Dragon Irish Pub on Main Street in Norwich and the new Harp & Dragon on Bank Street in New London. He also is working on the new Italian restaurant at the site of the former Dew Drop Inn on Route 2 in North Stonington.

But Nousiopoulos wants his own restaurant again. If the CVS developers obtain city permits and the project goes forward, he plans to open a new restaurant, Fat Cats Bar & Grill in Norwich.

c.bessette@theday.com

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