SOUTHINGTON — A major residential and commercial development underway in Cheshire has Southington business and town leaders hopeful about economic growth for the entire area.
In November, Cheshire planners approved special permits for Stone Bridge Crossing, a 107-acre development bounded by Dickerman Road to the west, Highland Avenue to the east, Interstate 691 to the south and the town line to the north.
Plans for the project from Charter Realty, the leasing agency, show more than 600 housing units in various developments, a hotel and commercial space. During the November hearing, representatives of one of the companies involved, Eastpointe LLC, told Cheshire planners that apartments rents will run from $1,700 for a studio to $3,000 for a three bedroom.
Charter Realty showed on its plans that the hotel is under contract along with a 300-unit multifamily development near the highway.Spillover demand?
Diana McDougall, a Southington real estate agent, said houses in Southington don’t usually sit on the market for long.
“Southington is still in a strong market situation because the access to highways here for commuters is just awesome,” McDougall said. That’s a big draw for businesses as well, but both commercial and residential development can be tough in Southington at this point.
“We’re running out of space in Southington,” McDougall said.
She believes “without a doubt” that demand for highway access and Southington’s amenities helped prompt the Stone Bridge Crossing development.
“I think it’s going to bring more people into the Southington area” as residents of that development visit Southington commercial areas on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike and elsewhere.Business benefit
Barbara Coleman-Hekeler, Southington Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the addition of hundreds of residents just south of the town line will be a boost for local businesses. There’s a lot of entertainment and other attractions to draw people to town, she said, and the Farmington Canal Linear Trail links towns in a big way.
“I always see something like that close to where we are as a plus,” Coleman-Hekeler said.
She lives in Cheshire and said there have been many plans over the years for those properties.
“We’ve even had over the years outlet shopping developers contact us to see if it’s viable for them there,” Coleman-Hekeler said.
Cheshire has commercial development in the central part of town but it lacks easy highway access.
“When a community has basically a single artery of traffic access, it limits some of the development the community can choose,” she said referring to Route 10.
“Southington as a whole, demographically, has always had an advantage,” Coleman-Hekeler said. “You can come in off the highway across any of the adjacent towns.”Residents’ concerns
Some Cheshire residents attended November’s planning hearing to voice concerns about the loss of open land in the town’s north end.
"(There were) apple orchards and wide-open spaces and stuff. Now you're changing the north end into a replica of the south end,” said Jane Presnick-Lyon.
Cheshire planning officials said they take land conservation seriously and that a perfect place for development is near the highway.
Earl Kurtz III, Cheshire’s planning board chairman, supported the project.
"We asked for this and we've been looking for this property to get developed and we're looking forward to what might come next with the commercial and the rest of the development,” he said during November’s meeting.
Bob Hammersley, Southington Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, said there’s no mechanism for a town to weigh in on another town’s development.
“They have the authority and the ability to do what’s in their best interest, as do we,” he said.
While he was unsure what the traffic impact of Stone Bridge Crossing might be on Southington, he said it “could have some positive effects on that part of town.”
“I think naturally that those people would frequent businesses in Southington. It’s closer to Southington than to downtown Cheshire.”