Updated — Westfield unveils 290-unit housing plan

The owners of the Westfield Trumbull mall want to take their retail business to another level. They are hoping to make a zoning change to make a new residential development on the mall’s property.

The proposal is for 290 units of luxury rental apartments within the lot of the Westfield mall. Originally, the proposal came in May at a town Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, but was continued to a July 19 public hearing. Nearly 100 people attended last week’s meeting.

The hearing was to talk about the current zoning for the property with some possible tweaks.

Presenters gave ideas of what Westfield could bring to Trumbull. They stressed the diagrams and blueprints that were displayed are an initial idea, and will be adjusted when they come back to get permits to build.

The 290 units that are being planned are one or two-bedroom apartments, with the opportunity to rent a garage and/or a storage space. The buildings will be on slabs, four stories high, with elevator access. Developers are hoping for a clubhouse, with a gym and common meeting room, and a pool. The entrances will be accessed by a security key.

Developers said the units would be marketed to professionals, young couples and older couples looking to stay in Trumbull, but who do not want to have a single-family home. Westfield representative Stanley Gniazdowski said he estimated the plan would result in $601,000 in annual tax revenue. In addition, he said market research indicated there would not be a dramatic impact on school enrollment. The buildings would be located in the Frenchtown school district.

“You should be embracing a multi-family,” said John Knuff, the mall’s attorney, to board Vice Chairman Anthony Chory. Chory who raised concerns about allowing multi-family homes in the town. Chory said he it was possible that young families would to be drawn to the rentals and worried that people would be attracted to Trumbull’s school district and move into town from nearby districts.

Knuff said towns should not be opposed to things simply because they are different.

“I would reiterate that towns who don't want to see something they haven't seen before are in deep trouble,” he said.

The proposal

Essentially, mall officials seek to change the zoning from a mixed-use property to a new mixed-use design district.

“There is very little demand for new retail space,” said Knuff. So, “there is no use other than multi-family residential” on the property, he said.

Leonard Glickman of Rose Equities is one of the developers of the proposed property. He tried to alleviate concerns that a giant property will be created, and no one will maintain who or what goes on inside there.

“Words matter,” he said. “We are a family-owned business since 1949 … we build and we own. That’s very important to us. We use no third-party equity. We take a great deal of interest in how ... our money is invested.”

Public comment

Few in attendance appeared to be 100% behind the plan. James McCarthy of Main Street lives almost directly across from the mall. He voiced his concerns, while conceding that the project could be an overall benefit for the town.

“I do recognize this may be very good for Trumbull,” he said.

Cindy Penkoff of Columbine Drive wasn’t in favor of the development.

“We, as taxpayers, are feeling overwhelmed,” she said.

Penkoff, a real estate agent, said she was concerned about an influx of children entering Trumbull schools. She rejected developers’ claims there wouldn’t be many children living in the complex.

“Not once have I gotten a request for a rental that didn’t include children,” she said.