Wallingford couple wants to restore downtown building to its ‘former glory’

Wallingford couple wants to restore downtown building to its ‘former glory’

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Get ready for a new look at the corner of Center Street and Route 5, there's a new landlord in town.

“I want to bring it back to its former glory,” Michael Terrace Jr. said Thursday. He and his wife Lura Terrace purchased the large white building at 4 Center St. in a deal that closed earlier this month.

The sale included the northern abutting property, 35 N. Colony St., in the same transaction for $835,000.

The decision to buy, Michael Terrace said, was due to the property’s “diamond in the rough” qualities.

“Nobody’s been in here for awhile,” he said. “I drive by the property all the time, and there’s so much potential and it’s a great location.”

He said that the plan for 4 Center St. is to fix it up and rent it out, but there are no prospective tenants yet. Both buildings were erected in 1900 and are zoned as mixed residential and commercial use.

Michael Terrace is a New Haven Public Schools custodian and Lura Terrace is a Southington Public Schools technology analyst.

Michael Terrace said he manages some residential properties in New Haven, but this will be the couple's first commercial endeavor.

Lura Terrace said the new project is exciting for their children as well.

The Terrace family — which includes children Jonathan, 13, Juliana, 8, and Giovanna, 5 weeks — moved to town eight years ago.

View of Center Street, left, and Route 5 from inside 4 Center St. | Dave Zajac, Record-Journal

“It’s exciting for them to grow up and be more a part of the town and the community, which is important for them,” Lura Terrace said. “We’re all involved.”

About the buildings

Both buildings have upstairs residential tenants. There are six apartments at 4 Center St. and four at 35 N. Colony St. All are occupied.

The interior of the ground floor at 4 Center St. is divided into two commercial spaces, both of which are vacant.

The corner property, at about 1,700 square feet, is “a good size space for small retail or small food,” Michael Terrace said, adding that a restaurant would need to be 49 seats or fewer to avoid high-cost renovation.

The storefront facing Center Street is just under 1,000 square feet, he said.

San Juanito Mexican Store and Classic Cutz Barbershop are commercial ground floor tenants at 35 N. Colony St.

David Ortiz, owner of Classic Cutz, right, talks about the recent sale of the building at 35 N. Colony Rd. | David Zajac, Record-Journal

Terrace said the barbershop has a lease in place and the Mexican store owner “has expressed a desire to stay.”

Dave Ortiz, Classic Cutz owner, said he expects no changes for his business with a new landlord.

“Not sure that they’re changing much,” Ortiz said. “Same lease, same name of the business. Everything’s staying the same.”

San Juanito was closed Thursday.

The two properties were last sold in 2007 for $875,000, also in a joint sale although they are separate parcels, according to town records.

4 Center St. | David Zajac, Record-Journal

The land and 9,096-square-foot building at 4 Center St. is appraised at $330,100. The land and 4,212-square-foot building at 35 N. Colony St. currently is appraised at $247,700.

The former owners, Dinah Wright Dybas and Robert Dybas, were absentee landlords who live in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Dinah Dybas was not available for comment Thursday.

Parking spaces

Parking has been a challenge in getting empty buildings downtown filled. Private parking, street parking and municipal lots are all available, but not always obvious to drivers.

There are 15 private parking spaces associated with the buildings, used by both residential and commercial tenants, Michael Terrace said.

Those spaces open up to a town-owned municipal parking lot for a total of around 58 spaces behind the building, Town Planner Kacie Hand said Thursday.

Under the Town Center zoning regulations, permitted uses for existing buildings are interchangeable regardless of parking requirements.

Hand said Planning and Zoning department officials have met with Terrace as he considered purchasing the property, and there’s another meeting coming up to discuss his plans for the properties.

“I think it will be very exciting to have someone to occupy the building, to make improvements to the building, because that’s such a visible and important property downtown,” she said. “It’s nice to see some new energy going into that property.”



Twitter: @LCTakores

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