Coming Soon To Derby: Aldi, Walgreens, Panera Bread, Batting Cages, Fat Gaucho

Red Raider Plaza, which will be redeveloped.The Derby building department issued about $4.2 million in permits between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, according to building official Carlo Sarmiento.

That’s the largest number in about a decade, Sarmiento said.

“I looked through all the records that I have available. It’s the largest that I can see on record. The last time we’ve seen numbers like that is when Home Depot came in,” Sarmiento said.

The dollar amount was bolstered by the permits taken out to start the redevelopment of Red Raider Plaza at the intersection of Pershing Drive and Division Street.

Interior construction has started on the redevelopment project, which will see a Walgreen’s with a drive-through along with other commercial shops.

Sarmiento said he conducted an inspection of the job on Tuesday.

“They are making great progress,” he said.

Sarmiento has been the city’s building official for six months. He’s been busy, as Derby has recently seen an uptick in development.

“It also might be some overflow from across the river (in Shelton),” Sarmiento said. “They’re blasting through stone to put in storefronts over there. We have space available. I think people are starting to realize that.”

Pershing Drive Projects

On Pershing Drive at the site of the old Valley Bowl (next to the Walgreen’s project at Red Raider Plaza), plans are underway to construct an Aldi supermarket and a Panera Bread.

“Aldi is approved. They’re on the permit path now. The fire marshal is making some corrections to their plan, but they’ll be ready to go. They are looking to break ground March 1,” Sarmiento said.

Panera Bread was also approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission awhile back. Sarmiento said the company wants to break ground March 1, too.

However, they still have to get final permits from Sarmiento and Fire Marshal Phil Hawks.

“They are within the same timeframe as Aldi’s, but they haven’t given us the full plans yet for us to review. They want to start in March, but they just need to get their plans to us for a review,” Sarmiento said.

The Pershing Drive projects “will keep us busy for the next few years,” he said.

Main Street

There’s also a spate of new shops opening on Route 34 (Main Street) in the heart of downtown Derby.

The Petal Pusher, a florist, is opening just off Main Street at 6 Elizabeth St. The business was one of several destroyed by a large fire in Shelton in January.

Just down Main Street, heading east, construction is underway on a baseball training facility at the former Milardo’s decorating center.

It’s called Power Baseball, and will feature two batting cages. The Power Baseball Facebook page bills it as a “premiere baseball hitting and pitching instructional facility.”

Click here to read a complete description.

“That’s being built. They want to open soon,” Sarmiento said.

Then, most likely later this year, a new restaurant will open on Main Street next to Power Baseball.

Carlos Canda, a New Haven-based lawyer, owns the Fat Gaucho wine brand, and plans an Argentinian wine bar theme for the restaurant, Sarmiento said.

Click here for more on Fat Gaucho Wines.

Fat Gaucho will join Main Street staple Twisted Vine and 500 Degrees, which opened at 181 Main St. in late 2012.

The first months were tough, said Nick Ecker, who owns 500 Degrees with business partner Ervina Seferi.

Though he said Derby’s Main Street is still “years away” from fulfilling its potential, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to open the restaurant.

“It was an existing restaurant and my business partner and I had been patrons there for years. When it came up for sale it just seemed like an opportunity,” Ecker said.

He credited his restaurant’s success to Seferi, to his chef, Manny Sarmiento, and to the New York Times.

(The chef, by the way, is the Derby building inspector’s brother)

The Times praised 500 Degrees in a review published in September.

“The review, almost immediately, turned into more people coming into the restaurant,” Ecker said. “It was amazing, to tell you the truth.”

Sarmiento, the building official, said the review raised Main Street’s profile.

“It was excellent for the block,” he said.

Other Developments

Following Route 34 (New Haven Avenue) east over the Naugatuck River, there’s more happening, Sarmiento said.

The Derby Planning and Zoning Commission green-lit a new business at 12 New Haven Ave. It’s called “Professional Carpet Systems/Professional Restoration Systems.”

Marcucio’s Garden at 480 New Haven Ave. has been torn down. It will be replaced by Town Fair Tire. Click here for a previous story.

The 7.5-acre property sold for $695,000 after being listed for just three days, according to Alan M. Fischer, of Fischer Real Estate Inc. in Orange. Just 1 acre of the property is being developed.

Sarmiento also mentioned several other projects in Derby, including:

  • A proposal to put a restaurant in the same shopping plaza as Edge Fitness, at 600 New Haven Ave.
  • A small expansion of the St. Vincent DePaul shop at 237 Roosevelt Drive (Route 34)
  • A dollar store, possibly, at the corner of Minerva and Third streets downtown

And, although it probably qualifies more as rumor, a coffee shop at the post office building on Olivia Street. That building is for sale, as the post office wants to unload the building. Click here for a previous story.

“Somebody called asking if they could put a Starbucks inside the post office. They could, the zoning allows it. They would have to go in front of the P&Z first,” Sarmiento said.

No formal applications have been made, the building official said, it was simply one of many inquiries his office receives.


posted by: Barb Hancock Dillon on February 21, 2014  11:20am

They really need to hurry up with walgreens so I can transfer already I work in Stratford live in derby and the traffic is horrible. Looking forward to the new store.

posted by: Stan Muzyk on February 23, 2014  3:46pm

I believe that Aldi’s is an improved version of the former Derby Xpect store. A business plus addition for the state smallest city.