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    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    Pawcatuck theater developer proposes expansion of $80M project

    A rendering of the revised Pawcatuck Farms project on Route 2 in Pawcatuck. (Rendering courtesy of TRIO Properties LLC)
    A rendering of the revised Pawcatuck Farms project on Route 2 in Pawcatuck. (Rendering courtesy of TRIO Properties LLC)

    Stonington ― In a new application to the Planning and Zoning Commission, READCO of Old Lyme and its development partner TRIO have proposed a revision of the master plan for the former Hoyt’s/Regal Cinema property on Route 2.

    READCO plans to expand its Pawcatuck theater redevelopment project by adding six adjacent properties, 108 more apartments and demolishing the theater and bank buildings on the site.

    “We’re actually coming back with a larger, better project,” said Jeremy Browning, partner and managing director of TRIO Properties Inc., a Glastonbury development and management real estate services firm, on Thursday.

    READCO, which has owned the property since 1995, built the theater there along with a Stop & Shop supermarket, McDonald’s restaurant, bank and Stonington Medical Center offices.

    The commission unanimously approved a zone change to Neighborhood Design District for the property in February, which allowed the developer to move forward on a project to repurpose the property as a recreational pickleball center, 10,000 square feet of commercial space and 124 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

    The change to a floating zone Neighborhood Design District provides the commission with a great deal of discretion about various aspects of the project, which Browning said was anticipated to cost between $70 million and $80 million.

    According to the application, received earlier this month, READCO intends to add six properties to the zone, including the Stop & Shop grocery store property at 91 Voluntown Road, an abandoned single-family home at 3 Voluntown Road, and four additional vacant properties.

    If approved, the developer would demolish the Berkshire Bank building and the movie theater.

    “We really feel it’s a win-win,” Browning said.

    Browning explained that the locations of structural support columns within the theater would not allow room for the required court dimensions for a recreational pickleball facility, and the building was far larger than needed for the sports center.

    By expanding the property and demolishing the movie theater, the developer will be able to relocate the facility to the southern tip of the property near the intersection of Liberty Street and Voluntown Road and create a stand-alone clubhouse for residents.

    Adjacent to the pickleball facility, the developer has also proposed a two-story, 30,000-square-foot medical office building.

    “We were now able to come back with a purpose-built recreational facility that will check all those boxes in a smaller footprint, and obviously allow us to expand the project with the extra land to provide more housing as well,” he said.

    The Stop & Shop and a McDonald’s restaurant on the site would remain in place, and the bank would be relocated to the mixed-use building.

    Three additional apartment buildings would be added for a total of six, three-story buildings each with 36 units. With the units in the mixed-use building, the property would house 232 apartments.

    The developer is applying for financing through Build4CT, an affordable housing financing program through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which requires that 20% of units be affordable to individuals earning 80% or less of the area median income.

    For a single individual, median income is $63,000 a year.

    Additional planned site improvements include potential outdoor recreational facilities which may include green space, sports courts and a pool.

    Browning said he anticipated the 36-month construction project would begin this summer, and said they are simultaneously pursuing site plan approval for the 124 apartments and 10,000 square foot, mixed-use building that were part of the initial application as well as the stand-alone clubhouse.

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