Fairfield Inn and more planned for Howard Johnson's site

UPDATED: The Howard Johnson Lodge and Friendly’s restaurant at 1040 and 1052 Boston Post Road will be demolished, and a Fairfield Inn, a Floor & Decor store and a small retail store will take their place.

The Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously at its Jan. 2 meeting to approve two applications related to the proposal located in the Interchange Commercial District (ICD). Turnpike Lodge LLC and Connecticut Foods Inc. are the owners. Philip C. Craft of Easton is president of both companies.

One approval was an addition to the zoning regulations, which narrows from 50 to 40 feet the landscape buffer between this property and the adjacent Forest Park condominiums, located on a hill to the rear. The other vote approved the special permit and site plan, which included merging the two properties into one 8.25-acre parcel.

The board approved the project with two conditions. The first condition is relocation of a 13-foot by 9-foot building that houses utilities, currently located in the buffer zone. The second condition is using exterior materials for the hotel, which meet the board’s architectural standards. The project received no public comment.

Attorney Christopher Smith said the existing 89-room hotel and restaurant will be demolished. Smith said the regulation change was “limited to this situation,” given that the regulation applies to a mixed-use parcel with a hotel in the ICD zone having a minimum of seven acres with at least 100 feet of frontage along I-95, and abutting a residential zone.

Architect Patrick Rose said the hotel will have 108 rooms on four floors with 26 suites and 82 standard hotel rooms. Amenities will be located on the first floor, including a breakfast room, a fitness center, and an indoor pool.

Rose said the roof would include cellular phone antennas screened behind panels with an equipment room for the antennas in the hotel basement.

There will be 279 parking spaces for the entire site. Rose said there is a 20 to 30 foot difference in grade between the commercial property and the adjacent residential property.

Rose said the 5,000-square-foot retail building could house up to four tenants. He did not name any potential tenants.

Carol Secondino, regional director for the Waterford Hotel Group, which will own and operate the Fairfield Inn, said Waterford operates two existing Marriott properties in Milford, the Residence Inn and Spring Hill Suites, which are on Rowe Avenue. The company also operates a Courtyard by Marriott in Orange. Secondino said the Fairfield Inn complements theses hotels, and also will bring customers to local restaurants and businesses.

Julie Starzynski, construction design and project manager for Floor & Décor, said the company is “looking to break into the northeast.” Starzynski said the company’s nearest store is Farmingdale, N.Y. and its only New England store is located in Avon, Mass. The Milford store will be about 75,000 square feet.

Starzynski said the company recently opened its 100th store, which is located in California. According to its website, the Atlanta-based company started in 2000, and sells hard surface flooring materials, including tile, wood, stone, and related tools and flooring accessories. She said contractors represent about 40 to 60 percent of its business.

David Bjorklund, civil engineer for the project, said the site plan is intended to break up the property and he “tried to give the hotel its own identity.” Bjorklund said a loop road around the property would lead to a loading dock for Floor & Décor that will be screened from the residential area.

Bjorklund said three underground galleys can handle storm water runoff from a 25- and 50-year storm, and can handle most water from a 100-year storm. The 279-car parking lot will include amenities, including charging stations and bike racks.

In response to questions from City Planner David B. Sulkis, Bjorklund detailed the extensive retaining walls on the property, including a six-foot high wall extending 270 feet along the I-95 exit ramp, a wall varying between four to 10 feet in height extending 185 feet along the residential property line, and a five-foot high wall extending for 180 feet along the property line with the Olympia Diner.

Matthew Popp, landscape architect, said there would be a 30 to 40 foot wide landscape buffer between the hotel and the retail uses. Popp said the project has 63 shade trees where 56 are required, along with 18 heritage birch trees, which he termed “borderline shade trees,” 34 flowering trees, and 25 evergreen trees, including Norway spruce trees, and 35 red cedar trees along the back of the property.

Traffic engineer David Sullivan said the project would add 130 new trips during the peak weekday afternoon hour and 200 trips during the Saturday peak hour. This will not have a negative impact on traffic flow in the area, said Sullivan.

The Floor & Décor store will be located at the rear of the property near Forest Park, while the Fairfield Inn would be located near the adjacent Hooter’s restaurant, and the retail building would be located adjacent to the Olympia Diner property.

There are no inland wetlands within 100 feet of the site, so no Inland-Wetlands Agency permit was required.

This project has been years in the making. The board granted approval in August 2013 for an 18- to 24-month period of blasting and rock crushing intended to remove 147,000 cubic yards of rocks. Craft returned in Oct. 2015 for a six-month extension of the permit to finish the blasting and rock crushing.