At Tuesday’s P&Z meeting Thurles LLC had success with their application for a Zoning Text Amendment to Town of Greenwich Building Zone Regulations to permit restaurant uses on the second floor in the CGBR zone.
The application had been before the commission several times since it was originally proposed as a first floor restaurant and second floor lounge and meeting space area where people could carry their take out from downstairs. That application, first presented in February, also featured a “transportation and wellness center” in the basement for people who bicycle, scoot, skate or run.
With this approval it will be possible to add the second floor to the first floor restaurant use.
The building is in the CGBR Zone, which permits several commercial uses, but not restaurants on the second floor.
Restaurants have been strictly forbidden on second floors. And, unlike first floor businesses, second floor uses do have parking requirements.
Currently there are three restaurants on Greenwich Avenue with grandfathered permission for second floor dining: LobsterCraft, Douro and The Ginger Man. The latter two have a central kitchen and operate on both the first and second floors of their respective locations.
Given the decline of retail, which impacted Greenwich Ave prior to and during the pandemic, and Greenwich Avenue having become a destination for dining, there is a vast appetite for restaurants on any given day or night.
The two story commercial building that was formerly home to Ralph Lauren, has been vacant for three years.
A key principle of the POCD is to maintain the economic vitality of the Town’s commercial centers such as Greenwich Ave, to adapt to market changes, and strengthen the downtown as the central business district of Greenwich.
On Tuesday, Jacqueline Kaufman from Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey in Stamford representing the applicant said that since the previous meeting she had met with staff and DPW per the commission’s request.
The concern was that with changes to the Avenue with bump outs and parking being removed, whether DPW might have concerns about a restaurant on two floors.
DPW was comfortable with the text change as proposed.
P&Z had suggested they change the proposal for text amendment to buildings that are two stories high, no more, given there could be conflict with residential tenants should there be third floor residential units.
Kaufman summed up the number of buildings that might as a consequence also come in with applications for second floor dining, saying that meant the regulation would apply to 36 properties in the CGBR zone
Of those 36 properties, 11 are currently used as restaurants on the first floor. Three are already non-conforming restaurants.
Of those 11, that boils down to 8 that could apply to become a two-story restaurant, including the applicant’s at at 265 Greenwich Ave.
“This allows us an opportunity to test the idea of allowing test the idea of allowing a second floor use and seeing how it goes,” said P&Z chair Margarita Alban. “The applicant has made the revisions to respond to the commission’s comments.”
There was no public comment. After the item closed, the commission voted to approve the application.