Restaurant eyes old Chambers building

The old Chambers Army-Navy store at Danbury Road and Grove Street operated from the 1990s until closing in 2004. The building has been empty since then, but the property has undergone various improvements over that period.

The old Chambers Army-Navy store at Danbury Road and Grove Street operated from the 1990s until closing in 2004. The building has been empty since then, but the property has undergone various improvements over that period.—Steve Coulter photo

One of the old Gasoline Alley landmarks might undergo a massive facelift with a new occupant.

TD1 Capital Group intends to convert the building on 38 Danbury Road, formerly Chambers Army and Navy store on the corner of Grove Street, into a sit-down restaurant with no drive-through.

However, a parking variance was denied in a 4-0 vote by the Zoning Board of Appeals on March 18, causing the applicant to revise the site plan to include 29 parking spaces.

Town Planner Betty Brosius received the revised plan last Thursday, April 4, and referred it to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night. She recommended the commission hold a public hearing for the revised site plan.

“I don’t have a lot of leeway, or background, on how to limit the number of parking spaces on-site,” Ms. Brosius explained. “My suggestion is we review the site plan for approval and hold a public hearing so everyone can see the changes the applicants have made since the public hearings in front of the Board of Appeals.”

The commission unanimously approved holding a public hearing on May 14.

Robert Jewell, the applicant’s attorney, said he did not object to the idea of a public hearing.

The property consists of 0.46 acres, or 1,964 square feet, in a B-1 commercial zone. The B-1 parking requirements are 15 spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross building area.

Ms. Brosius said neighboring business, in particular Walgreens, had a problem with the original site plan and thought parking would “overflow” into neighboring lots. She did not speculate if the revised plan would abate this problem.

In the original plan, the applicant had provided 24 parking spaces for a gross building area of 2,800 square feet that required 42 parking spaces.

In the revised plan, the gross building area, or the restaurant’s size, was reduced to 1,909 square feet, requiring 28 parking spaces.

The applicant’s requests for a variance were heard during three public hearings held on Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 18.

During the Jan. 7 hearing, Mr. Jewell said that although the applicant had applied as an agent for Chamber Enterprises, it had executed a lease and was the lessee of the property.

Chris Sturges, owner of TD1 Capital Group, was present during the hearing and gave board members a copy of the restaurant’s menu.

Architect Doug MacMillan was also present.

Mr. Jewell noted to the board that the building was located on a visible corner in Ridgefield.

Built in the 1950s, the building was originally a gas station. Its brick exterior, with cupola, was designed to match the look of the A&P Supermarket that was built at the same time. The A&P building was razed a few years ago to make way for Walgreens.

Chambers Army-Navy store operated from the 1990s until closing in 2004. The building has been empty since then, but the property has undergone various improvements over that period.

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