'A historic gem'- Restaurant planned for former downtown Milford funeral home

The Smith Funeral Home, founded by George J. Smith.

The Smith Funeral Home, founded by George J. Smith.

Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — The former Smith Funeral Home at 125-135 Broad St. will soon house a restaurant and apartments, following unanimous Planning and Zoning approval of a shared parking arrangement for the mixed-use property at its Dec. 1 meeting.

In an email following the meeting, Robert Smith Jr., executive managing director of Metro Star Properties, wrote that he is working with a group, but was not able to disclose the restaurant’s name at this time.

“This will be fantastic for downtown. The building is a historic gem with a major presence on the green and has great physical potential to be converted to a restaurant,” wrote Smith.

The board voted unanimously at its Sept. 1 meeting to approve a mixed-use project with 77 apartments, retail space, and offices with an underground parking garage that included some of the 178 parking spaces on the 2.28-acre property. Currently the property includes the 6,690-square-foot funeral home and a small office building. A 5,700-square foot industrial building on the property has been demolished. The funeral home and office building will be retained.

The original plan had called for offices in the funeral home building, which would have required fewer parking spaces per square foot. At the September meeting, Smith had requested the board’s approval on a restaurant. Following a discussion among board members, Attorney Thomas Lynch, representing Metro Star, had agreed to withdraw the request for a restaurant and take that topic up again at a later date. The Dec. 1 vote was an amendment to the September approval.

Commenting on the request, City Planner David B. Sulkis said shared parking arrangements are found in many zones in Milford. Sulkis further said that finding of parking adequacy is common in downtown where some restaurants do not have any onsite parking, or have minimal onsite parking. The offices typically close at 5 p.m. and the parking spaces are then available for restaurant use. The funeral home property site plans include 30 spaces allocated for office use.

The funeral home would have a first floor restaurant, with second floor one bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. The new buildings would have retail and office space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floor, totaling 13 two-bedroom apartments, 2 two-bedroom plus one units, 22 one-bedroom apartments, 10 one bedroom plus units, and 27 studio apartments, and 2 studio plus units.

The change to units with a “plus” component, which are office/study areas, boosts the parking requirement from the original 154 parking spaces to 161 parking spaces.