DARIEN – The Darien City Council approved preliminary designs March 17 for Phase l of a Heritage Center strip mall redevelopment project.
During the meeting, the City Council heard two options for designing the city-owned strip mall at 75th Street and Cass Avenue.
The site incorporates a clock tower and fountain in the initial designs, and one of the considered designs also includes an 8-foot canopy. However, that element was quickly shot down by the council.
“After having a conversation with the architect and additional resources, the canopy is more of an outdated design,” Community Development Director Dan Gombac said. “It adds extra cost to the building, and it’s further maintenance for the building owner, whether it will be the city or some private owner.”
The other option was similar but did not include the cover canopy. Gombac said one of the goals of redeveloping the aging strip mall is to make it a focal point of both the downtown and the city of Darien. By not having the canopy cover, it gives the buildings more visibility for motorists, he said.
“It also introduces awnings that could be put onto the building as an architectural treatment as well,” he said. “Also, the lighting becomes very critical and adds to the ascetics of option No. 2.”
At the Jan. 6 City Council meeting, Shive Hattery Architecture Engineering was hired for $67,690 for architecture engineering for the Heritage Center strip mall. For a fee of $37,660, Christopher B. Burke Engineering will handle engineering and survey work.
Gombac said the City Council will reconvene April 7 with a motion to approve option two with the no canopy cover. Official could begin Phase ll of the project, which includes construction drawings.
It’s still unknown whether the city will pay for the reconstruction and development, or if the site will be sold to a private developer.
“If we do sell it, the site plans as well as at the architectural plans become portable and part of the negotiation is that if it’s sold the developer, the buyer, will be required to build what the city council has approved along with its uses,” he said.
The total cost is still unknown, but it could be up to $2.1 million.