Redevelopment Agency of the City of Danbury Policy Decision, Memorandum

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The Redevelopment Agency of the City of Danbury Policy Decision on Parcel A Development Options This memorandum summarizes the broad policy options for development of Parcel A which have recently been evaluated by the Danbury Redevelopment Agency at the November 4, 1980, meeting.

Date

1980

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MEMORANDUM
The Redevelopment Agency of the City of Danbury
Policy Decision on Parcel A Development Options
This memorandum summarizes the broad policy options for
development of Parcel A which have recently been evaluated by
the Danbury Redevelopmenr Agency at the November 4, 1980
meeting.
Recognizing the importance of integrating Parcel A with
an overall use policy direction for the downtown as a whole -whether Parcel A is developed independently or as a part of a
larger project -- this most recent round of planning for
Parcel A also recognizes the importance of moving toward a
better utilization of this valuable resource and is a proper
step in moving ahead with needed downtown revitalization.
Prior policy decisions of this Agency have established
the following objectives and criteria for moving ahead with
the redevelopment process:
Establish general development goals (type of use or uses
and scale ) in advance of and as a guide to any formal
solicitation of developer proposals;
Maintain appropriate flexibility in these development
goals to encouraae creative responses to an overall
development focus; .
Avoid "reactive1" d ecisions to unsolicited proposals
before the Agency can reach a consensus on general
development goals as noted above;

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Understand the objectives of all legitimate interest
groups in relation to downtown development and, where
possible, incorporate such objectives into the Agency's
Development goals to facilitate project implementation;
and,

Memorandum
Page two
Solicit developer interest and establish selection
criteria based on these goals and objectives.
To highlight the general development directions

available

to the Agency, three illustrative development options were
hypothesized.
recommendations

These are not, per se, development program
and any associated policy recommendations

should

not be viewed as an effort to fix the precise mix or scale of
*

uses. These illustrative

options may be summarized as follows:

A.

Mixed Use, Present Site — Development of office
retail and housing (totalling perhaps 700,000 to
750,000 square feet of space at build out plus
associated parking) on the presently controlled 6.3
acres of Parcel A and 2.7 acres along the new Liberty
Street.

B.

Mixed Use, Expanded Site — Same as above, but expanding the site by approximately 3 acres to a total of 12
by including land to the west of Parcel A up to the
present buildings fronting on Main Street. Such expansion might accomodate roughly one million square
feet of space at ultimate build out.

C.

Regional Retail, Expanded Site — Development of a
major, regional serving retail mall on a "site" somewhat enlarged (by perhaps 3-5 acres) from B, above.
This option would include at least three major
department stores and would cover, say, 800,000 to
1,000,000 square feet of retail space.

On November 4, 1980 the Agency voted 4-2 to endorse option
B—

Mixed Use, Expanded S ite -- as the preferred development

direction for Parcel A.

This decision, along w ith this memoran-

dum and other supporting materials, is to be presented to tiic
Mayor's office and other interest groups, as appropriate, for
input and refinement in an effort to move ahead with downtown
development.

Memorandum
Page Three
Principal"risks and rewards" associated with each option
which were presented and deliberated upon by the Agency in
reaching this decision are summarized below.
Fiscal Considerations.

All of the above concepts would

likely have a positive fiscal impact on the city (assuming needed
capital improvements, as discussed below, are funded with a
minimum of city debt).

While there may be numerous mixes and

scales of development under- any of the concepts, it is estimated
that Concept A m ight generate annual property tax revenues of
approximately $900,000, Concept B perhaps §1.1 million and
Concept C on the order of §1.1 to §1.3 million -- once each
project is built out.
Costs of public services required by each of these concepts
(such as utilities, police, and fire protection, public works,
general government and education) .cannot be reasonably estimated,
but in any event, each of these concepts is likely to create a
measurable "surplus" for the city on an annual operational basis.
Each concept, however, will require a significant level of
capital improvements in the form of parking, site acquisition,
access and circulation improvements as well as open space uses
and linkages with present activities.
Parking required for all concepts must be in some structured
(i.e., "garage") form and will represent a required up-front
capital investment that will most likely have to be funded by the
public sector -- whether through the city itself,or a local
parking authority.

Parking required by Concept A would carry an

Memorandum
Page four
estimated cost of $9 million whereas Concept B would represent
a capital investment for parking of approximately $12 million.
Concept C, on the other hand, might require a parking structure
that would cost between $17 and $24 million, in today's dollars.
Other capital improvement costs cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, but it is probable that Concept C will carry
with it a substantial requirement for site acquisition monies
as will Concept B, although to a lesser extent.

On the other

hand, Concept A by definition,will not require much additional
site acquisition.

Cost associated with improved access and

circulation will be incurred for both concepts A and B and, to
a much greater extent, for Concept C.
With regard to this latter point, development of a major
regional shopping mall in the downtown will most likely demand
very substantial access improvemen.ts from Interstate 84 which,
in turn, may require various land takings and major new construci
tion. Concepts A and B will require improved access and circulation, but these requirements may largely be met within the
existing right-of-way configurations.
Lastly, carpful development- of open spac<~' uses and project
linkages to current downtown area activities w ill be nios L important in minimizing land use impacts and maximizing opportunities
for integrating any new development with present downtown uses.
Again, it is anticipated that such costs would be more substantial
^

under Concept C than under either Concepts A or B.

Memorandum
Page five
Thus, it is apparent that the regional retail program will
carry with it the most substantial capital cost requirements -especially in the form of improved access to 1-84 and substantial
structured parking —

and, unless a very high percentage of these

capital funds can be secured

from non-local sources, the potential

fiscal benefit of this concept could be reversed.

This is not to

minimize the significance of capital improvements necessary for
Concepts A or B, but rather to indicate relative differences.
Job Creation*

All development concepts would, of course,

generate significant construction employment as well as long term
operational employment. It is understood that each of the above
described concepts would generate annual, full time employment of
perhaps 1,000 to 1,300 jobs.
In this respect, the only particular distinction that might be
drawn amongst

these alternative development concepts is the nature

of permanent employment that might be created. That is, Concept C
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will require a high percentage of clerical and sales people versus
the higher percentage of office-using employment generated under
Concepts A or B.

In this regard, then, Concepts A and B may gener-

ats somewhat higher payroll levels but will require skill levels
that are already in substantial demand within the region.
Potential Obstacles.

Several potential obstacles to

development have been identified and would include the following:
site assembly; access; parking; funding; and, land use impacts.
These are noted as "potential obstacles" in that they will

Memorandum
Page six
require time for completion (and possible loss

of competive edge

to other projects), commitment of funding (and associated time
requirements as well as uncertainties), cooperation and commitments
of other agencies or interest groups (such as the Danbury Parking
Authority) or the potential for criticism and legal efforts at
stopping a project (for example, potential impacts on the "urban
fabric" of downtown that might be viewed as incompatible with the
objective of certain interest groups).
From these perspectives, it is clear that Concept C -- the
regional retail mall -- would have the most difficult hurdles to
overcome.

Again, this is not to minimize development obstacles for

Concepts A or B, but to note the relatively greater risks to pro-

(

gram implementation which that Concept could face.
Timing.

Timing is of interest in two respects -- how soon

might construction actually begin a/id occupancy of at least the
first phase occur?
i
out or completion?

And, how long would it take for project build

Given the substantial access improvement requirements of
Concept C as well as the site assembly/acquisition

needs it is

probable that construction could not begin on a regional retail
mall for perhaps five years or more.

While this schedule might

possibly be advanced, experience indicates that the probabilities
are not high.

It is clear that this Concept would necessarily

be pursued as an all or nothing proposition in the planning phase.
Given the less radical access improvement requirements of Concepts
A and B, actual construction of first phase occupancy under either

Memorandum
Page Seven
of these concepts might take place within two to three years.
On the other hand, however, once the'regional retail program
was underway it would likely be a "one phase" program with total
build out and occupancy within two to three years.

Concepts A and

B, however, would most probably be done in several phases and.could
ultimately take longer to build out.

With the above consideration in mind, the Agency voted 4 to 2
to pursue Concept B as the currently preferred alternative development direction for downtown Danbury.
Tn essence, Concept B was preferred to Concept A in that the
"rounding out" of the development area to incorporate and provide a
proper "linkage" to existing uses along the eastern side of Main
Street was perceived as an achievable and appropriate objective.
The more important distinction of course, was with regard to


Concept B versus Concept C. In this respect, the "risks" of
i
Concept B were judged less severe than the risks associated with
Concept C.

Specifically, it was recognized that Concept B could

not forestall the competitive impacts on downtown retailing that a
">urburban mall might generate and that market supports for existing
us well as new retail development in the short term would be conStrained from what was preceived as the high probability of surbur;

ban mall development.

On the other hand, while part of a Concept C

•Strategy would be to preempt a surburban mall development effort in
near term and to make downtown Danbury highly competive against

Memorandum
Page eight
potential suburban mall development in the longer term/ the
very difficult 1-84 access requirement as well as the parking
structure needs and overall scale of a major regional mall were
viewed as obstacles or risks that were not warranted by the
potential rewards.
In a desire to provide Initiative in downtown revitalization
and to move ahead with proper development of'Parcel A" the
Mixed Use, Expanded Site option was perceived as having
the most reasonable chance of near term success along with
the flexibility allowed by a gradual development program.

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SUPPLEMENTAL RECOMMENDATIONS

To be attached to but not a part of the Danbury
Redevelopment Agency memorandum on Parcel A Development
Options.
t

The Redevelopment Agency recommends that the following
items be implemented;
1. ' Immediately seek funding for an access to, and
parking within the CBD as recommended in the Plan of
Development.
2.

Encourage commercial, professional, cultural and

entertainment uses in or near the CBD and strict enforcement
of existing zoning regulations outside the CBD.
3.
;

Actively support a Regional Mall in Danbury.

4.

Acquire additional blighted and distressed properties

in or near the CBD.

Citation

Danbury, City of. “Redevelopment Agency of the City of Danbury Policy Decision, Memorandum.” WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 22 Sep. 2019.

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