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Julia Perkins | Jan. 23, 2022
An upgraded library, school construction and additional residential housing are coming to the Danbury area in 2022.
Several communities are working on renovating or building schools due to enrollment increases or outdated facilities. There could even be an Amazon grocery store coming to one town. A few towns are improving their downtown areas.
Here are some of the Danbury area’s 10 biggest projects to watch out for in 2022.
Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield are working on school projects this year.
The addition to Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School in Danbury should open this fall. The seven additional classrooms were needed due to rising school enrollment, but the district may consider other projects this year.
Danbury is planning for its $99 million career academy, which will serve 1,400 middle and high school students and is slated to open in fall 2024. Alongside the academy, the school district looks to revise its curriculum to emphasize personalized and experiential learning.
Brookfield and New Fairfield are constructing new schools, too.
New Fairfield’s $113 million school projects remain on time and on budget.
The $29.2 million expansion to an elementary school — creating the Consolidated Early Learning Academy — is expected to be finished by the start of the 2022-23 school year. The $84.2 million, 143,000 square-foot new high school is slated to open the following year.
In Brookfield, the new, $78.1 million Candlewood Lake Elementary School has faced construction delays, pushing the opening date from mid-way through next academic year to the start of 2023-24. The school will serve pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, allowing the outdated Center Elementary School to close and Huckleberry Hill Elementary School to be demolished. Fifth-graders at Whisconier Middle School will move into the new building.
Brookfield, Danbury and Ridgefield in the midst of projects to improve their downtowns.
Danbury finished the first phase of its roughly $12 million streetscape project at the end of 2021 and is preparing for phase two this year. Officials hope construction could start on the second phase and/or a river walk in 2022, but further approvals and work is needed.
The city hopes to spark downtown development and make the area more pedestrian friendly.
Ridgefield is working on a $4 million project to improve traffic flow on Main Street. The second phase should bring ground in the spring, following the completion of the first phase at the end of 2021. Work includes milling, paving and re-striping Main Street between Governor and Prospect. Landscaping is slated to begin September 2022.
Brookfield’s streetscape project in its town center includes at least six phases. Construction could start this year on phase three, which would bring pedestrian sidewalks along a 700 to 800 foot stretch between Federal Road and Old Route 7. Planning for other phases continues this year, too.
A few miles from Brookfield’s streetscape project, a “new concept” grocery store is expected to open this year.
The store at the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center is rumored to be an Amazon Fresh grocery store, although the officials and company haven’t confirmed.
However, the architectural renderings from the Zoning Commission bear a resemblance to existing Amazon Fresh stores. The leasing director for the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center has said at a Zoning Commission meeting that the store is owned by a technology company.
Construction costs are projected at $1.2 million. The store was originally supposed to open in December, but was delayed.
A second grocery store, a Food Emporium, is being built, too. Brookfield has only one grocery store, a ShopRite on Federal Road.
One project seen as key to Danbury’s downtown development is the $20 million, four-story bank office proposed for the corner of Main and West Streets.
The 35,000-square-foot building would provide offices for Savings Bank of Danbury and has been called the “centerpiece” of downtown.
Danbury City Council is reviewing plans for the bank to purchase the former Tuxedo Junction club, which the city bought in 2017. The infamous nightclub would be demolished so the bank office could have access to an upgraded power source.
The council could decide as early as February to sell the building. Construction could start in the spring and be completed by the end of 2023.
Construction is continuing on another development that officials hope will breathe life into downtown.
Developers are constructing 149 apartments at the former News-Times office building on Main Street. These will be the first new apartments in downtown Danbury since the since the 2016 completion of the 374-unit Kennedy Flats complex across the street.
The building will be connected by a bridge to the 115-apartment Brookfield Commons on Crosby Street. The apartments are owned by the same developer.
It’s unclear when the apartments will be completed, but at one point they had been slated to open at the end of 2021 holiday season.
Danbury will review plans this year to transform a vacant 32-acre property on the west side into an 11-building development with apartments, offices, shops and continuing care beds.
It’s part of the construction boom on Danbury’s west side and is the largest development of its kind in the city.
Westconn Park LLC Development calls the complex a “lifestyle center” and says it will offer 200 apartments, entertainment and retail on Mill Plain Road.
The proposal includes 200,000 square feet of housing units, 80,000 square feet for an assisted living facility, and 50,000 square feet for a corporate building, three pad sites and mixed-use retail. Medical offices, corporate training facilities and retail would fill the 100,000-plus additional square footage, along with a 3.4 acre recreational area, clubhouse, pool and tennis courts.
Griffin Living would operate the 90-bed continuing care facility.
Perhaps the most ambitious project in Danbury is the revitalization of the former Matrix Corporation Center, a 1.2 million- square- foot building that sat mostly vacant on the west side for decades.
Developers of the Summit @ Danbury are creating a “city within a city” with commercial space, housing and amenities like a restaurant, barber shop, gym and putting green. They’ve teased they will announce early in 2022 that a couple national companies will follow Nuvance Health by moving into the building.
Clancy Moving Systems plans to build a 190,000-square-foot warehouse and associated buildings on 29 acres next to the Summit.
But the plans to build a $99 million middle and high school within the Summit could be the most critical for the growing city and school district. Danbury and developers are negotiating for the city to purchase three pods needed for the career academy.
Developers will start construction on a minimum of 180 apartments, pending approval from the Zoning Commission and the negotiations with the city.
Two health care facilities are coming to Danbury’s west side.
The state is reviewing plans for what could be Connecticut’s first proton therapy center on Wooster Heights Road. Danbury approved the $80 million Danbury Proton project last year. The center could treat 338 patients a year with a non-invasive radiation technique.
The state’s decision has been delayed due to combination of staffing, workload and coronavirus issues, according to Danbury Proton’s mid-January newsletter.
Meanwhile, a $36 million rehabilitation hospital will be built on a 13-acre site within the residential development known as The Reserve.
Encompass Health, an Alabama-based company with about 140 rehabilitation hospitals across the country, would run the facility.
The state closed the hearing on Encompass Health’s application and is drafting a decision.
The library hasn’t fully reopened since March 2020 due to COVID-19 and the construction. Instead, lobby service and online or off-site programs are available.
The library was last renovated with an expansion in 1979, and the town rejected two prior plans to upgrade the building before approving $6.5 million for this project in 2018. The Board of Trustees is paying $1 million, and the State of Connecticut Library is paying $1 million.
Once the renovation is complete, the library will have a new second floor and updated amenities, such as a makerspace, designated teen space, and meeting, reading, study and children’s story rooms.
The project adds 6,500 square feet to the existing library, bringing the new total to 22,000 square feet. Construction started in June 2020.
This December will mark 10 years since 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Over the 10 years, Newtown has grappled with how to honor the 26 victims, parsing through 16 sites and 190 designs before agreeing last year to approve funding for a memorial in a 5-acre forest. The memorial includes a walk through nature to a reflection pool, with a “sacred sycamore” growing in the center.
The state is covering 70 percent of the $3.7 million cost.
The memorial should be completed by the 10th anniversary of the tragedy on Dec. 14.