ESSEX — Sapia Builders Corp. of Old Lyme, has proposed building a 7,400 square foot office building at 130 Dennison Road in Essex. The design of the two-story structure is intended to resemble a barn.
“I’m an Essex local and I grew up on the road that the building would be on. The area has been undeveloped my whole life,” said Nick Sapia, owner of Sapia Builders. “It’s a residential road, but the property buts up against another commercial property, the railroad track, and Route 9.”
The location is close by both Centerbrook Village and the Route 9 Gateway, but has not been identified as an area for significant development in the plan of conservation and development (POCD) which was approved by Essex in 2015.
“This property is right on the cusp,” said John Guszkowski, chair of the Planning Commission for the Town of Essex. “What’s weird is it’s a little bit off the beaten path, but geographically extremely close to properties that are in the development node.”
Guszkowski said that the current POCD encourages the town to “focus as much density and activity in the specific development nodes and allow the rest of the town to be maintained in a rural-suburban, forested area.”
The proposed location lacks walkability, but the construction could be planned to fit into the surrounding neighborhood, says Guszkowski.
“It’s not easily accessible from a pedestrian standpoint. Dennison Road is built to the south with the first overpass over the steam train line, so you couldn’t get a sidewalk in there and you wouldn’t want to encourage pedestrians,” Guszkowski said. “We would connect it to the Essex plaza behind. I think it is possible we would encourage that connection.”
The undeveloped parcel is just 500 feet from a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise.
“We know the design needs to fit on the residential street,” Sapia said. “The modern barn is a nice blend between something commercial and something that still fits in our area.”
Sapia said that the building is currently being marketed as office space, but if the project is approved at a zoning commission hearing on September 16, the location would be suitable for a restaurant, retail shops or a doctor’s office.
After an initial presentation at the Zoning Commission on August 19, Sapia said he feels confident going into the hearing in September.
“We haven’t heard any objections yet,” Sapia said. “It seemed to be well received by the commission, and two of the zoning officers live on the street.”