WALLINGFORD — A former bank building on Center Street is one step closer to becoming a wellness center.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Monday to amend downtown zoning regulations to allow wellness centers as a permitted use.
The regulations in the Town Center District formerly prohibited medical offices to operate on the ground floor, street-facing side of buildings.
That caused a problem for Dr. Tracy Malton, who bought the century-old building — a former Bank of America branch — at 100 Center St. in January with the goal of establishing a holistic health center.
She’s planning to move her practice, Healing Hands Chiropractic, from its location in Hall Avenue into the new space.
After failing to sway the Zoning Board of Appeals, Malton submitted an application in September for a zoning regulation change.
The Planning and Zoning Commission began discussing the proposed zoning change at its October meeting and voted Monday to approve the zoning text amendment of the Town Center District regulations.
Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small created the new regulation language, which she outlined in a Nov. 4 memo to the PZC.
“In that the purpose of the District includes the creation of a ‘vibrant, pedestrian-friendly commercial destination,’” Small said, “I have attempted to create a definition of a ‘wellness center’ which would require the inclusion of uses lending themselves to such purpose.”
The new regulation defines a wellness center as “an establishment that offers services for the body and mind and includes at least two of the following: skin care services, fitness services, personal training, nutritional services, retail sales of wellness products, and state licensed/certified chiropractic and acupuncture services.”
“I’ve allowed for the inclusion of chiropractic services on the ground floor,” Small said, “provided at least one other wellness use is also on the ground floor. My intent is to require another use which may generate pedestrian traffic and be visible on the street.”
Malton said Thursday that “it was a long, tedious adventure, but we’re very happy that we’re finally going to be moving forward and get this thing happening.”
Malton’s husband, Lawrence Liseo, said they intend to invest a “substantial” amount in interior renovations.
“We have financing lined up,” Liseo said. “We’re almost there in signing a contract with the contractor.”
There are two, small second floors inside the building, one in the front and one in the back. The front second-floor area was used as a break room, but the back second-floor area goes back to the 1930s and needs work, Liseo said.
The main room needs to be divided in half lengthwise to allow Malton to set up her practice on one side and the other side be rented out commercially.