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Date: Fri 28-May-1999

Date: Fri 28-May-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: ANDYG

Quick Words:

Kasper-Queen-St-shopping

Full Text:

Kasper Scales Back Plans For Queen St Shopping Center

BY ANDREW GOROSKO

Developer Joseph Kasper has dropped plans to build the second phase of Newtown

Shopping Village, having failed to reach a purchase agreement with the man who

owns the Church Hill Road property where that construction would take place.

Mr Kasper, doing business as Newtown Shopping Village, Limited Partnership,

presented Borough Zoning Commission members May 25 with plans showing the

redeveloped Queen Street Shopping Center without the second construction

phase.

That phase would have included roughly 20,000 square feet of enclosed space

extending from the Dunkin' Donuts shop toward Church Hill Road. It would also

have included an accessway to the shopping center from Church Hill Road. Mr

Kasper said that the lack of that accessway will not pose any traffic problems

in the town center.

Mr Kasper said Ernest Wiehl, who is doing business as Pepper Partners, Limited

Partnership, wants much more money for a two-acre parcel along Church Hill

Road than he is willing to pay for it. Mr Kasper did not disclose prices. Mr

Kasper said he has been seeking to buy the land, which holds the former Oberg

service station, from Mr Wiehl for the past decade.

"There is no phase two," he told Borough Zoning Commission members.

Mr Kasper, however, later held out the possibility that at some point in the

future he will acquire the Wiehl property and build the second phase of the

shopping center.

After lengthy consideration in January 1996, Borough Zoning Commission members

approved Mr Kasper's proposal for the redeveloped shopping center whose prime

tenant is Big Y supermarket.

Before the redevelopment project occurred, the shopping complex, formerly

known as Newtown Shopping Center, had lost many of its tenants and fallen into

a state of disrepair. The redeveloped shopping center has 89,000 square feet

of enclosed space.

The modified site plan for the shopping center contains four basic changes: an

altered property boundary line showing the project to be smaller than

initially planned; landscaping changes; the addition of two parking spaces for

the handicapped; and the deletion of a requirement that Mr Kasper provide a

private security force for the shopping center.

In an April 30 letter to the commission, First Selectman Herbert Rosenthal

writes, in part, "None of our shopping centers have their own security

patrolling the outside of the stores and parking areas, and I am not aware of

a resulting increase in crime that would necessitate it... Requiring this type

of security might give the wrong message to shoppers and unduly alarm our

citizens. Therefore, I hope the commission will not enforce this requirement."

In January 1996, the commission required round-the-clock private security at

the redeveloped shopping center to deal with problems such as loitering and

harassment of patrons which had occurred at the old shopping center.

Borough Zoning Commission members took no action on Mr Kasper's site plans May

25, asking him to submit revised information for their review. The commission

is scheduled to address the matter again on June 15.

"I think Newtown Shopping Village is an extremely attractive parcel now" which

offers valuable services to the community, Mr Kasper said. He stressed his

hope to eventually reach terms with Mr Wiehl to acquire and develop the

two-acre parcel on Church Hill Road which would complete the redeveloped

shopping center.

When the commission approved the redevelopment project in 1996, most residents

who spoke on the proposal voiced support. However, some said they feared that

an expanded shopping center would generate more traffic on streets in the town

center, and especially on the heavily-traveled Church Hill Road, posing yet

more traffic congestion problems there.

In 1996, Borough Zoning Commission members were exacting when they granted Mr

Kasper a special exception to the borough zoning regulations to redevelop the

shopping center.