The old Smiles Entertainment Center was reduced to a pile of rubble last week as crews demolished the building to make way for a new shopping center with a Panera Bread restaurant, a Sleep Number store, and a Verizon store.
The entertainment center, with its arcade games, batting cages and rides, was a hot spot for many years for area teens, plus younger and older gaming enthusiasts.
The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) last year unanimously approved the project at 1595-1645 Boston Post Road, with zoning permits contingent on the developer receiving state and federal approvals.
City Planner David B. Sulkis said at the time, “It's a nice project,” commenting that city staff worked closely with the applicant to guide the project, which needed a special permit, coastal area site plan review, and site plan review.
Attorney John Knuff, representing the applicant, C&G Milford, said at the time the application was being approved that the shopping center would have retail space in three buildings on the 7.5-acre parcel.
“This is one more piece of the puzzle in the redevelopment of the Boston Post Road [from the I-95 interchange at Exit 39 to the Orange border,” Knuff said last year. “This project elevates the quality appearance of new development in this area.”
Knuff said the property would be connected to the adjacent Chase Bank property to the north, allowing motorists easier and safer access using the traffic light at that location.
The project would improve the environment in several ways, said Knuff, including the fact that 14,000 sq. ft. of impervious surface will be removed, part of which will create a 25 ft. buffer along the Indian River, which runs along the rear of the property. He said 450 sq. ft. out of 1.3 acres of wetlands would be disturbed.
The new buildings are expected to have a unified concept with red brick combined with sandstone panels, project officials said.