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Restaurant, apartment building win preliminary approvals in New London

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New London — A woman with a successful New York-based catering business is planning to transform the vacant former Citizens Bank branch at 458 Ocean Ave. into the city’s newest takeout eatery.

If plans move forward as planned, Evette Wilson would open Land and Sea by early next year. She plans to specialize in healthy takeout foods — wraps, smoothies, salads and American staples that include various meats and mac and cheese. There will be an emphasis on homemade foods low in sodium and trans fat.

Wilson is a chef with 25 years of experience in the business and owns Eve’s Catering. She said she had been scouting areas in the region for a brick-and-mortar location. She lived in New London in the 1990s and has family members, including a brother and two sisters, who live here.

She said she is leasing the building with an option to buy and initially will focus on lunch and dinner foods with some breakfast options. She expects regular menu changes and tweaks to hours of operation once she settled in.

“It’s going to take shape really quickly,” Wilson said Friday.

She said the focus for the business would be on high-quality food, exceptional customer service and setting herself apart from other area food offerings.

Wilson won approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday to change the use of the building from a bank to a restaurant.

The approval came on the same night that the commission unanimously approved a zone text amendment that opens the door to new construction of single-use apartment buildings on empty parcels in the central business district.

The zoning change would accommodate plans in the works for a 20-unit apartment complex at the long-vacant parcel at 174 Bank St., which developers have shied away from for decades because of its size and construction obstacles.

Regulations maintain a provision that bars ground-level residential units facing the street on existing buildings. A timeline built into the regulations would prohibit building owners from demolishing an existing building and constructing a new apartment building.  

The application was introduced by William Sweeney, an attorney with the New London firm Tobin, Carberry, O’Malley, Riley & Selinger, or TCORS.

Sweeney represents Vessel Technologies Inc., a New York-based company that has developed a proprietary modular system to construct buildings in small and constrained urban parcels. Plans for the proposed apartment complex are expected to come back before the Planning & Zoning Commission at a later date.

g.smith@theday.com

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