SOUTHINGTON — Town planners approved a new style 7-Eleven for a long-vacant pharmacy location on Queen Street.
The convenience and gas store will also include Raise the Roost Chicken & Biscuits restaurant, a new feature for modern 7-Eleven stores, according to company representatives.
The former Rite-Aid building will be demolished to make way for the convenience store and gas pumps at 500 Queen St. It’s located right off Interstate 84.
Mark Grocki, a project manager representing 7-Eleven, said the building will feature cedar boards and architectural wall panels. Planning and Zoning Commission members said they were surprised at the modern look of the store.
Grocki told them it’s an updated look for 7-Eleven and is driven by other updates to the competition.
“Certain other convenience stores that I’m sure you’ve seen are really stepping up their game,” he said. “7-Eleven wants to make a significant investment. It’s a great intersection, it’s a great use for (the property.”Former location down the road
7-Eleven had a location at 777 Queen St. which was closed years ago and turned into medical offices. That store was much smaller than the 4,700 square foot location approved by the PZC Tuesday.
Dorothy Fleishman with 7-Eleven said the smaller stores were slowly being replaced by larger locations with more offerings. The Raise the Roof restaurant will include indoor dining.
“Those legacy stores are what we’re trying to move away from,” Fleishman said of the former Queen Street location. “This is the footprint we're trying to do now. Your neighborhood 7-Eleven stores are going by the wayside and we’re embarking on a new program to optimize them and renovate them. This is state of the art.”
7-Eleven has nearby locations in Meriden, Waterbury and New Britain but none in Southington.Dealing with traffic
Town planners had questions about how the new store would affect traffic on Queen Street as well as a connection between the former Rite-Aid lot with the adjacent Worldwide Wine & Spirits.
There is a traffic light at the Rite-Aid driveway and a left turn lane for those driving north on Queen Street and looking to get into the property. With Route 10 a state road, the state Department of Transportation controls how long the cycles are for that light.
Grocki said with town approval, the store can now ask the state for more time on the traffic light to allow people to enter the site.
Town planners discussed ways to keep people from driving too quickly through the joined driveways and suggested a speed bump. Town officials have encouraged connecting driveways so that customers can move between businesses without having to reenter Queen St.
Susan Locks, a planning commission member, said there is a stop sign between Worldwide and the future 7-Eleven location.
“Nobody pays attention to it,” she said of the stop sign. “People drive fast through a parking lot.”
The commission and store representatives discussed options such as speed bumps, speed tables and grooved pavement. Bob Salka, commission vice chairman, said the grooved pavement just “irritates” drivers but doesn’t slow them down. He and other commission members agreed on requiring a speed bump as part of the 7-Eleven approval.