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Preston family proposes new plaza with traditional farm look

Preston — The junction of Route 2 and Mathewson Mill Road could be transformed, with a salute to Preston’s farming heritage and a look to future economic development, according to two local developers.

The father-and-son partnership of Kenneth and Max Zachem hope to build a new 5,000-square-foot plaza on a five-acre portion of a larger tract the family owns at 356 Route 2 to house an expanded Lu-Mac’s Package Store and provide a year-round home for Jimmy’s Ice Cream Shop.

The ice cream shop had occupied a small building at the corner with a seasonal business until this year, when Uncas Health District determined the well and septic system were too close together.

Kenneth Zachem, 67, a town selectman, said he has had the expansion plan in his mind for years, and now was the time to do it, with customers increasingly seeking a larger, more specialized selection of products. His son, Max, 28, a civilian aircraft mechanic for the Connecticut National Guard in Groton, is ready to become the third generation to run Lu-Mac’s Package Store and Lu-Mac’s Plaza.

Lu-Mac’s is named for Kenneth Zachem’s parents, Louise and Mac Zachem.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Preston Plains Middle School on the special exception permit needed for the project. The commission could vote on the special exception and the site development plan following the hearing.

The project has about 100 parking spaces, a two-lane entrance and an exit-only driveway, both on Mathewson Mill Road for safer access using the traffic light at Route 2.

If approved, the Zachems would begin work on the demolition permit to remove the former Jimmy’s building and construction permits for the new plaza, Max Zachem said.

The new building would have the look of a barn, with a silo on the right side as the main entrance to the new package store. Inside, the silo would serve as a well-lit atrium with wooden beams resembling a barn. At the left side, a round outdoor deck and patio would offer Jimmy’s outdoor seating.

The package store would move to the new site, growing from the less than 1,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet of handicapped accessible sales and cooler space. Now, the Zachems provide curbside service to handicapped patrons.

There would not be much room for storage in the new space, the elder Zachem said, because: “I want as much product to be out front for people to see.”

Jimmy’s, run by husband and wife, Jimmy and Karen Dubreuil of Preston, would have 1,500 square feet, giving the shop indoor seating for year-round operation for the first time. The large deck and patio would give customers a view of the former farm field and woods behind the building.

Once completed, Lu-Mac’s Package Store would move to the new space, and the Zachems would gut the old store and ready the space for a new retail, bank, office or other commercial development. The plaza also has a convenience store and restaurant.

The Zachems own 47 acres at the new location, and they said they are open to possible future development ideas, possibly including a grocery store.

“We want to keep to the tradition of Preston, but also help the town with future development,” Kenneth Zachem said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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