Zoning board okays pizzeria plan for Harrison’s

After six years of vacancy, the former Harrison’s Hardware will be reborn in 2013 as a pizzeria, following a quick and unanimous approval by the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at its July 17 meeting. The building at 36-38 Broad St., was damaged by a January 2006 fire, and the hardware store never reopened.

This will be the fourth location of the Colony Grill, which also operates in Stamford, Fairfield and Avon. The owners are four members of the Trumbull Little League team that won the Little League World series in 1989: Paul Coniglio, Cody Lee, Ken Martin and Chris Drury, who later found additional fame as a hockey player for the Olympics, and in the National Hockey League.

According to Engineer Raymond Paier, the 10,743 square foot restaurant will have 137 indoor seats, and 91 outdoor seats on a patio to the rear of the building, which will be adjacent to 840 square feet of green space, an addition to the property. He said the existing roof deck on the second floor would be eliminated.

“We will have to reconstruct the front dining section because it is in such disrepair,” said Paier. He said the center section of the building would be restored, and the shed buildings at the rear would be removed to make room for the landscaping and outdoor patio. Windows will be added to the right side of the building “to add light and character,” said Paier.

Based on the size of the building, the zoning regulations call for 170 parking spaces. Paier said there are 1,320 public parking spaces in downtown Milford, including 134 parking spaces in the municipal lot behind the existing building.

As part of the approval process, the board used a portion of the regulations designed specifically for downtown and Devon, in which it asserted that there was adequate parking.

During a break in the public hearing, Coniglio said they selected this location because the co-owners who grew up in Trumbull would frequent Fairfield and Milford. The downtown, historic location of Harrison’s appealed to them, he said.

“This building in particular fits what we are looking for,” said Coniglio.

Coniglio said one of the partners met with Lee Harrison, former owner of the hardware store, and are getting old photos of the store, and hope to get the old scale that was used to weigh nails, and will use these items as decorations in the new restaurant.

“We are trying to incorporate the history of the site,” said Coniglio.

The Stamford location opened in 1935, under its former owners, and the four Trumbull natives opened the Fairfield location in 2010. Coniglio said they hope to open the Milford location in early 2013.

The restaurant has only one menu item, which is thin crust pizza, along with beverages.

The building is owned by Milford Broad Street LLC, which is managed by William P. Hoadley out of Brookfield. The corporation purchased the building in 2009 for $450,000.

Four residents spoke enthusiastically in favor of the restaurant at the public hearing. Peter Spalthoff of 26 Broad St., said, “This downtown is a restaurant destination. There are 13 eateries within a three-minute walk. This will be a phenomenal addition. I’m so excited to see something happening with Harrison’s.”

Spalthoff addressed the parking situation by saying there is a misconception that there is not enough parking downtown. He said people may not be able to park in front of their destination, but said they can find parking. He said the district requested better signage for parking 10 years ago, a request he said the city has yet to fulfill.

Joseph Hebert of 14-16 Broad Street, former owner of Hebert Jewelers, said he was “delighted to finally have this building transformed into a new business.” His only concern was that crowds do not flow out into the street as they did at the former Daniel Street club.

City Historian Richard Platt said he had “mixed feelings” about the project because he would prefer to see a hardware store reopen. However, Platt said, “I have to face reality. This is the best thing to happen to the place, and the next best thing to a hardware store.”

Joseph Agro, who owns 44-64 River St., said he disagreed with a former proposal to build a bank on the property. About the restaurant, he said, “This is the best thing we could hope for on the site.”

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