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Rob Ryser July 10, 2022
DANBURY - City planners have approved blueprints for a $7 million Mercedes-Benz showroom and service center at the gateway of an emerging high-end auto corridor on the city’s west side.
“We have certainly discussed it at length,” said Arnold Finaldi, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, shortly before the board approved the dealership last week. “Good luck to the applicant with your project.”
The approval means Curry Automotive can begin work to clear a 2.5-acre construction materials storage lot at Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow roads — a property city leaders have described as a gateway for a corridor of high-end automotive uses that stretches from the eastern border of the Danbury Fair mall south along the perimeter of Danbury Municipal Airport.
“I want to be there the day they knock down that concrete bunker on the site,” Finaldi said half-seriously after the approval vote on Wednesday, referring to the highly visible site that some leaders considered an eyesore.
“I had to look at that thing every morning five or six days a week for 16 years and I’m sick of it,” Finaldi continued with a good-natured smile. “So I want to be invited there. Make a note of it. Keep it off the record but I want to be invited. I want to be there.”
An attorney who has represented Curry Automotive through the last year of land use approvals agreed.
“I’ll send you a message, Arnie,” Meaghan Miles replied at Wednesday’s meeting.
Curry Automotive, which plans to move its Mercedes-Benz dealership from Federal Road on the city’s east end to the new gateway location, is the latest high-end auto business to invest in the west side.
North American Motor Car, a 50,000-square-foot custom garage and luxury vehicle storage facility that opened recently one-quarter mile south on Miry Brook Road, bills itself as the largest restoration facility of its kind in Fairfield County. It joins other high end-garages and storage facilities such as Speedsport Tuning and Collector Car Services, as well as a film director’s company that recently began producing $450,000 sports cars in the shadows of Runway 26.
North of the new Mercedes-Benz site, Danbury approved plans in March by a Nissan-Infiniti dealership to take over an empty retail building on Sugar Hollow Road, which is already home to Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen dealerships.
As much as Mercedes-Benz seemed like a good fit for the neighborhood, it had to clear handful of hurdles including zoning variances, wetland approvals, Federal Aviation Administration clearance and site plan approval.
“We don’t want cars parking all over the place except as shown on the approved plan,” said Jennifer Emminger, the city’s deputy planning director, during Wednesday’s meeting. “They need to get a location approval for the new motor vehicle dealer’s license from the Zoning Commission, so there is another step.”
Emminger is referring to plans by Curry for a 31,000-square foot-dealership with rooftop parking on the second floor and 22 service bays.
Because the dealership is expected to be a major traffic generator, adding 850 vehicle trips to the area on an average weekday and 1,600 car and truck trips on an average Saturday, Danbury’s traffic engineer asked Curry to buy and install video camera detection equipment at three nearby intersections “to improve traffic management and traffic signal operations at … intersections associated with the proposed development.”
Instead, Curry offered the city $50,000 to buy and install the equipment.
In the end, planners said their concerns about traffic were addressed.
“I just want to say job well done for making all those agreements,” Planning Commissioner Helen Hoffstaetter told Emminger at Wednesday’s meeting.