Development along the Route 6 corridor in Bethel could soon get a major boost.
Randy Salvatore, the founder and president of RMS Companies – a Stamford based real estate firm, hopes to build a giant development at Stony Hill Inn. The plan, said Salvatore, would be to create a mixed commercial and residential development that would include several thousand square feet of commercial rental space, close to 200 residential units, and ultimately serve as a gathering point for the Bethel community.
“There's two sides to the development,” Salvatore said, “there is a townhouse side to it, which is strictly residential, which has an entrance coming off route six and will comprise 88 town house units and 48 duplex units with a club house, a pool, and an amenities center.”
He added, that portion of the development “will connect through to a mix used development area that will have approximately four different buildings with about 4500 square foot of retail, with residential units, [above and nearby the retail spaces].”
Salvatore said that the development would feature picturesque New England style architecture.
“What we're trying to create on the sight is really kind of another town center along Route 6. We'll have a little gazebo in the center [of the development] where people will be able to gather around on the weekend,” he said.
The mixed use plan is in keeping with the town of Bethel's overall vision for the corridor. A 2007 study on the Route 6 corridor conducted for the town, concluded that the best way to develop Route 6 was through mixed use. The project has the support of First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker as well as Town Planner Steve Palmer.
Palmer said if this development goes through, it will help spur the overall economic development of Route 6.
“We have other owners of properties and developers interested in other properties on Route 6 as well, and we think if this project comes to fruition that this is just going to be the start of what we see as a successful development model for Route 6,” he said.
To support the proposed Stony Hill Inn development, Bethel amended the zoning regulations for Route 6 in February in order to allow for residential housing which the area had not been zoned for previously.
Salvatore said his company is currently finalizing all of the engineering plans and drawings for the project, and will submit a formal plan to Bethel within 45 days. Approval for the project could take some time, but Salvatore said he'd “love to start [building] this year.” He added once building begins, it will take “two to three years to fully build it, but we'd be delivering residents and hopefully retailers along the way.”
There are still some obstacles to overcome before the development becomes a reality. One is a shortage of sewer capacity on Route 6. The Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing on a new proposed Sewer Allocation Program last week. If the proposal is not revised it would likely require Salvatore's company to pay several hundred thousand dollars for increased sewer capacity – which Salvatore said could be a potential deal breaker. However, Salvatore said Bethel has been great to work with so far and “we're confident that the process is moving forward and that we'll get an allocation and the town will recognize the benefits of the project.”
He added that the project would “generate upwards of a million and a half dollars in tax revenue, with not a lot of increase in services needed.”
Among RMS Companies previous developments, is The Village at River's Edge in Stamford, a luxury town home development that is similar to what is being proposed for Bethel. That development was named “Community of The Year” by the Homebuilders Association of Connecticut in 2007.
Salvatore is working hand in hand with Gene Rubino and the Rubino family who own Stony Hill Inn and the surrounding property. Salvatore said that if the approval process goes smoothly the plan would be for him to buy the property and go forward with the development. He said he has looked to the Rubino family as guides throughout the planning process for this development.
“I know that they, in all cases, have Bethel's best interest at heart,” he said. “They have deep roots in Bethel, they understand the community and they understand the needs of the community and they're going to do right by the community.”