Sound Development LLC was before the Town Plan and Zoning Commission Monday with formal plans to build a 13,600-square-foot Walgreens on the corner of South Main Street and Mill Street in Unionville.
The developer had won the commission’s okay to go forward with the plan back in June, when it presented an initial concept for the building — a re-creation of the historic mill that once stood on the now-vacant corner — along with support from the major groups that guard Unionville’s development.
The pharmacy would be operated by the Griffin family, who owned Ryan Pharmacy, which Walgreens recently took over.
Gary Eucalitto, for Sound Development, explained that the company had built five Walgreens in the state of Connecticut and 10 more in the U.S. but when it came to the Unionville store, designers abandoned the austere template that is common for the pharmacy.
Instead, they worked together with the Unionville Museum and the Unionville Architectural Review Board to design a building reminiscent of the old mill.
“Sound Development has been around a lot of years and built a lot of Walgreens,” he said. “We’ve spent a few months now going over with [Town Planner] Jeff Ollendorf, the UVIA, architectural review board the goals of what the town wanted to see in the project and how the town could meet those requests. It’s a beautiful corner and it will be beautiful when it’s done.”
The building would sit on the corner of South Main Street with a wide sidewalk, including trees and benches, granite cobble pavers and a 14-inch granite curb. At the corner a handicap-accessible ramp would allow for pedestrians with strollers, walkers and people in wheelchairs to enter the building.
A second entrance is planned for access through the parking lot, which is lined with trees. A sidewalk would extend down toward the river, providing a buffer to the neighboring property and access to the Farmington River Walkway.
The plans started with old photographs of the mill.
“We immediately noticed the overall look wanted to be that of a small-town storefront so we decided to break up the building into components,” explained Stephen Melingonis. “We start with rich brick emblematic of the historic buildings immediately around the site… “
There’s also a greenish portion, some storefront features and punch windows to break up the face of the building, he said.
Joe Balskus of Tighe & Bond explained the traffic study findings.
Traffic counts were done in September, after the start of school between the peak hours of 4 and 6 p.m. and analyzed the capacity of the Mill Street and Route 4 intersections.
Balskus said that the pharmacy would likely generate 100 trips per hour at peak times and that while it would add cars to the intersections, it would not be enough to change the level of service — graded a through f.
“Obviously we’ll have an impact because we’re adding traffic but it will be small in terms of impact. We saw some minute changes in vehicle delays and also looked at what we can do to mitigate the impact,” he said.
That includes a plan to widen Mill Street in order to allow a left turn lane, widen South Main Street slightly and convert traffic going toward the bridge on South Main Street to a left lane and a through and right lane. In addition, the plan would alter the timing of the light at Mill Street. It would not separate function of the traffic signals at Mill Street and New Britain Avenue that cause walk lights to trigger simultaneously.
Balskus said the plans incorporated some of the suggestions of the Unionville Traffic Committee and also worked with town staff, including its traffic engineer, to develop the plans.
“This represents about 20 percent of the recommendations the traffic committee looked at,” Ollendorf said. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction but we all know the major impediment is Route 4 and New Britain Avenue and that’s going to take millions of dollars to improve.”
Commissioner Don Doeg asked whether cars turning right into Dunkin Donuts, the Bottle Shop and the bank would prevent traffic from flowing down South Main Street if the lanes were shifted from a right-turn lane and left/straight lane to a left-turn lane and a right/straight lane.
Todd Litchfield asked that they look at the traffic volume during drop-off and pickup at Union School also.
Bill Bonk, representing the Economic Development Commission, and Ted Lindquist, representing the Unionville Village Improvement Association, gave their organization’s endorsements of the plan.
The public hearing will continue on the application in November.