Shelton Developer Buys Former Lifetouch Property In Derby

photo:ethan fryDerby officials hope a Shelton developer’s purchase of a long-vacant downtown property will give redevelopment efforts there a shot in the arm.

J&L Enterprises, a limited liability company controlled by Joseph and Louis Salemme, bought the former Lifetouch property at 90 Main St. April 10, according to land records in Derby City Hall.

The purchase price was $250,000.

The Valley Indy left a message at Joseph Salemme’s business Monday morning.

No formal plans for the redevelopment of the 1.19-acre property have been presented to the city, Mayor Anita Dugatto said Monday (April 17).

The city’s planning and zoning commission is scheduled to have a “discussion” with the new owner at a meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall.

Dugatto said she met with Joseph Salemme last week and was happy to see the property change hands to “a developer that has a great track record.”

Salemme is a partner in Hawks Ridge, a development of single-family homes and condominiums off Long Hill Cross Road in Shelton.

According to the minutes of a meeting of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission in February, Salemme told the commission during an “informal” discussion that he was eyeing the property with a view to a possible mixed-use development.

A New Haven Register story about the meeting quoted Salemme as saying he was also in talks to bring an “advanced manufacturing technology center in conjunction with a college” to the site. Other possible ideas mentioned included apartments and/or a hotel.

The property — 90 Main St. — sits immediately next to the Route 8 south on-ramp, and is part of the city’s long-stalled downtown redevelopment zone on the south side of Main Street.

Dugatto said Salemme is still figuring out exactly what he wants to do.

“I know he’s got some ideas but I don’t know where he is with any of them,” she said. “Right now he’s keeping the building. He’s going to clean it all up and see what the condition is.”

It’s not great at the moment, according to Carlo Sarmiento, the city’s building official.

Sarmiento said Salemme started cleaning up the property last week and took out a permit Monday for demolition inside the building, which is about 25,000 square feet.

“Basically that building was scavenged, so all the utilities were ripped out of it, all the electrical, all the plumbing,” Sarmiento said. “They’re going to keep the building, however they’re taking the rest of the mechanicals out.”

Workers were at the property Monday morning cleaning the site and inspecting the roof.

“They have to redo everything,” Sarmiento said. “They’re starting right away. They’re moving forward.”

An overhead photo of the area, taken from a brochure advertising the site, is below.

The mayor said the Lifetouch property sale coincides nicely with the efforts by DPZ Partners, a consultant hired with grant money to come up with a new plan for the redevelopment zone.

The Planning and Zoning Commission in January endorsed a conceptual layout for the redevelopment zone that could yield 469 residential units, 96,000 square feet of retail, and 66,000 square feet of small manufacturing.

Dugatto said DPZ is working on writing a final report on the site, finalizing zoning regulations, and writing a request for proposals from developers that will be released soon.

One facet of the redevelopment plan that may see changes — the planned widening of Route 34 through downtown Derby.

Last year a DPZ consultant critiqued the widening plans, saying the design for the new, wider road would make it too much like a highway.

Dugatto said Monday the city hopes to get state transportation officials to tweak their plans for Route 34 slightly.

The mayor said a public hearing has been scheduled tentatively for May 22 for the public, as well as city and state officials, to weigh in on the road widening plan.

photo:ethan fry

Dugatto said she hopes state officials will be receptive to a plan to put a bike lane and pedestrian walkway through the redevelopment zone instead of on Route 34 itself.

The mayor said asking the state for changes won’t add much time onto the project, whether the state approves of the city’s planned changes or not.

The widening of Route 34 through downtown Derby — on the drawing board for years — will not start until at least 2019.

“Once we have the OK, if DOT likes what we’re tweaking and they allow what we need to do, or they say no we can’t, then it’s final design. Then it’s a matter of just moving forward,” Dugatto said. “Everybody said we were going to start over. No. No, no, no, no, no. We’re still on the same path. We want to do it right.”


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