National retail chain coming to site of East Lyme antique shop

East Lyme — The new owner of what was the home of the Nutmeggers Antique shop said he plans to demolish the two 158-year-old buildings on the site to make way for a major “national retail chain.”

Art Linares Jr., the former state senator in the 33rd District, bought the building at 144 Boston Post Road last fall from Jeffrey Kozlowski, of Kozlowski Orthodontics, for $250,000. Linares has sent out notices to abutting property owners about the upcoming demolition, the first step in obtaining a demolition permit from the town.

Now trying his hand in the development industry after recently forming his own company Linares Land Capital in 2018, Linares is working closely with his father Art Linares Sr., he said. The company develops both residential and commercial properties for national retailers in Connecticut and other states across the East Coast. Linares said he recently developed a Party City and Subway on Boston Post Road in Orange.

Linares Jr. is also the cofounder of Greenskies, a Connecticut-based renewable energy company focusing on solar installations, that was acquired in December 2017 by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Clean Focus Yield Limited.

Though Linares said he could not yet identify the company moving to the property, renderings of the building filed with the town’s zoning department depict a Dollar General store. The national retail chain, according to its website, operates more than 12,000 stores in 43 states and is “growing every day.”

In recent years, Dollar General stores have been popping up around the region, including a location on West Main Street in Niantic in 2017, and now a soon-to-open store on Boston Post Road in Waterford, replacing what was once a Rite Aid.

“I’m excited to be investing in East Lyme, and we are going to build a beautiful building there and it’s going to be a great addition to the community,” said Linares. “We are working with local professionals to develop the site, and it’s been really great working with the town to make sure the aesthetics and design are a great fit for East Lyme. It’s an exciting project.”

Zoning Official Bill Mulholland, who has been working closely with Linares for the last couple months on the building’s architectural style and design, said that because the property is located in a commercial zone, Linares has the right to demolish the structure and develop the site for retail use with additional zoning approvals. 

Mulholland said Linares has yet to submit a site plan for the town’s review, but expects to see one in the next month. Linares also said he expects to have the store open by the fall.

“For us, it was a great piece of property,” Linares said. “I think East Lyme is a fantastic place to buy and invest and support.”

Part of Linares' plan includes demolishing the two houses on the property, which sits across the street from the Flanders Fire Department and East Lyme Pizza Restaurant. Both were built in 1862.

According to Historic Properties Commission Chairwoman Barb Johnson Low, the main building on the property, which was once a large four-bedroom home, is a “historically accurate representation of Queen Anne period” architecture constructed in Flanders village throughout the late 19th century.

The building, which is listed on the town’s historic house inventory as the “Flowers’ House,” she said, was also once home to the Tytla family in the mid-20th century. The Tytlas owned a general store in the building that is now the East Lyme Pizza Restaurant.

“And like any general store, it was bread and milk and meat and things that everyone needed,” Johnson Low said. “They called (its owner) Grandpa Tytla and this was an institution in Flanders village. Children everywhere loved visiting the store.”

Linares gave Johnson Low and her commission permission to visit the home and document items of historic value, such as window hardware, doorknobs, original wood floor boards and a fireplace mantle, that will be removed from the home before demolition.

Brookside Farm Museum Commission Chairman Gary Lakowski said he and his group also have toured the home to preserve what he hopes will become a permanent display at the museum.

“Anybody hates to see an old building destroyed or taken down or demolished,” Lakowski said. “But I looked at it as a chance to save a little bit of the history to save the history of East Lyme.”

m.biekert@theday.com

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