The University of Connecticut Health Center is considering the idea of four medical practices at the corner of Route 44 and Lawton Road, potentially with urgent care, according to a local development company.
On Tuesday, Gregory Konover, development manager for Konover Development in Farmington, confirmed the company was working to finalize a deal with UConn.
Konover appeared before the town’s Planning Commission Monday night, seeking its positive referral to the Zoning Commission for changes needed to accommodate the facility. Currently, the zoning regulation for the property, known as the ATG-2 Zone, allots for a building with a footprint of up to 7,000 square feet on the corner of the property. Konover is seeking a change to specifically reference medical use and allow a footprint of up to 10,000 square feet for that portion of the property. The company still hopes to develop an area to the rear of the property but is not not looking to exceed the currently approved site footprint.
While commission members expressed concern over the possibility of a 10,000 square-foot footprint on the corner, Konover said its goal is a two-story building with an 8,500 square-foot footprint.
Konover said with the recently built CVS, the company requested 16,000, even though the building was targeted at 15,000. Some changes requested by the town put it at roughly 15,400 he said.
“The goal is to provide us some flexibility,” Konover said.
CVS has required that adjacent buildings on the site not exceed 32 feet in height, he said.
While stating that wanted to leave Konover some flexibility, some planning commissioners did express concerns with the maximum potential size, the possibility of removing a couple more mature trees and the potential of moving away from a village-type concept for the corner.
“We’re starting to see a lot of change here,” commissioner Bruce Mortimer said. “It would be nice to have more of an overall vision for this lot."
Konover said the company would love that as well but has to deal with economic realities.
“The nature of the development business right now is we have to take the tenants as they come,” Konover said. “That’s what we did with CVS and it paid off because now UConn is very interested in the site.”
UConn is interested in the corner rather than the back of the property due to the potential of urgent care, Konover said.
“They’re looking for kind of retail-like visibility,” he said.
Konover and town planner Neil Pade said a medical use would also be less intensive than that of a retail or restaurant, which Konover had previously been targeting. Bonefish Grill was ultimately not interested in the site, Konover added, when a commissioner referenced talks with the restaurant's parent company.
The Planning Commission made a positive referral to the Zoning Commission but did add many suggestions, such as asking for the company to go as small as possible and to consider specific area designs as standards.
The changes may seem small but it’s important to get it right, commissioners said.
“We want your organization to build the right building there,” commissioner Dave Evens said. “We have to put a lot of effort into this corner. If we do it wrong, it’s going to haunt zoning, design and us for a long time.”
Konover said the company is in a good position to work with the town on a design.
The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed zone amendment and text changes on April 17, 2013.
The zone changes would only affect the regulations. The company would have to also come back to the town with a specific site plan application.