• HB
    10.01.2014 BEST CUSTOM VACATION HOME Robik Glantz Builders for Fairfield beach home   BEST KITCHEN FEATURE Robik Glantz Builders for glass enclosed wine room  ...
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  • 11
    16.09.2013 The Aux Delices French bakery and cafe will open at 1035 Post Road East, Westport “some time in May,” according to co-owner Greg Addonizio (above). The location formerly was occupied by Arcudi’s Restaurant.  Peter Jennings of Westport-based Bayberry Property Management said that the Arcudi family’s 30-year lease on the site had recently expired.   The new Westport location for Aux Delices with be the fourth cafe in Fairfield County owned by Addonizio and his wife, Debra Ponzek. Addonizio said that the new cafe which will serve beer and wine will seat 45, have outdoor seating in the spring and feature a large bakery.   He describes the ambience of his four locations as “cafes with gourmet food and a bakery team of 15 chefs.” Having started the business in Riverside in 1995 with his wife, he said that their other similar establishments are located in Greenwich (opened in 2000) and Darien (2004). In addition, “We have a ‘commissary’ in Stamford and a cafeteria in Old Greenwich,” he said. The commissary is a large, commercial kitchen where they offer adult and children’s cooking classes. Addonizio said Aux Delices also offers the option of conducting cooking classes in the privacy of homes....
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  • 33
    16.09.2013 There's a tantalizing statistic that is calling out to builders: 73 percent of homes in the region were built before 1979. However, while foundations are being poured and the sound of nail guns can be heard in Southwest Connecticut, new home construction remains tame -- despite evidence of fresh demand. Newly built houses, especially in the middle-class price range, are sorely needed, according to Bryan Robik, managing member and co-founder with this wife Ronit Glantz of RG Builders. Their company is developing six new single family homes on Clinton Avenue in Stratford, starting at $339,900 a piece.   In Fairfield County, only 6.8 percent of homes were built after 2000, and in the whole state that figure is 7.1 percent. In Massachussetts, 7.8 percent of the houses are less than two decades old. And in communities out west and in the South, where population growth has been trending up, it's even higher. About 17 percent of the homes in Houston, Texas were built after 2000 and in Washoe County, Nev., it's 25 percent. In Connecticut, the demand for new construction is driven by homebuyers who want modern conveniences, but that fervor is kept in check by a lack of available land, high costs to build, regulation and a desire by some to maintain the character of communities.   Robik looks at the age of the housing stock as an opportunity, albeit one tempered by market and economic conditions. Standing on one of his parcels in Stratford, where the house has been framed and across the street from another where a foundation has been laid, he said there are buyers who just don't have the time or the willingness to remodel an older house. That's why he's speculating on these homes. He's building two of the six first and hopes to attract buyers. Then he'll start on the next pair.   But making a new home attractive in Connecticut isn't as simple as just putting up something new -- it has to have character.   Robik said his wife, Glantz, either works with an architect to create unique designs or buys plans for new homes and customizes them. Even with these trends, he said, builders have to be cautious. "There isn't a lot of population growth in Connecticut," he said. Adding to this is a developed part of the country where there isn't a lot of vacant space.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairfield County's population is growing at about 0.6 percent, or 6,268 people, per year since 2010. That's not a huge number, but it still leads to demand, and the last few years people have delayed buying a home, remaining in apartments or living with parents.   Bruce Tuomala, Danbury's economic development director, sees housing as both contributing to and an outgrowth of economic development.   Danbury has led the region in new home permits for two consecutive years, mostly due to new apartment buildings and the development of Toll Brothers' Rivington village in the western part of Danbury, a 1,080 unit community that offers a variety of structures, including condominiums and townhomes. "It's driven by the economy and the Danbury area has about the best numbers in terms of unemployment rate and job recovery," Tuomala said. He said it also helps that Danbury and its sister communities are nice places to live with lots to do, from hiking to shopping.   That in turn has led to increased interest in living in the area, which has sparked some development, but Tuomala wouldn't call it a boom in new housing. It's a positive trend nonetheless, according to Cheryl Scott Daniels, president of Mid Fairfield County Association of Realtors and CSD Select Homes of Westport.   "About 6 percent of the homes sold in our market were built within the last year," she said. In lower Fairfield County, newly constructed houses bring a premium, going for $1.5 million to $2 million. And for those who want something a little smaller and less expensive, they have to go farther north or east, even into New Haven County.   "It almost doesn't matter where it is, as long as it's new," she said, of those looking for homes that have not been lived in yet. What they're looking for is modern and up-to-date. She said they want open floor plans and many forego having a formal living room. There's still a healthy number of people who like older homes, but Daniels noted that generally "the people who want old, want really old. They like the quality of the things built in the 1920s or 1930s."   Pete Fusaro, of Old Greenwich-based Preferred Builders, agreed with Daniels that people tend to preserve the oldest homes and are more likely to tear down a home built in the 1970s or 1960s. In fact, new single-family home construction in the region is dominated, according to several builders, by people who are tearing down an older house.   "The one we just finished is a 1971 house and it was on a slab," Fusaro said. "No basement or crawl space. The insulation was terrible. It wasn't worth it." So the owners decided to tear it down and rebuild, with better insulation and new, energy-efficient equipment. Fusaro said a lot of homeowners are putting in solar panels and getting rebates on them. He also said with modern insulation, new homes can vastly reduce the size of the heating and air conditions systems, saving space and energy costs. There are other hurdles in the new home construction. In Connecticut, there can be a conflict with zoning and the community when a new subdivision is proposed.   In New Haven County, Bethany resident Anthony Esposito and other residents are opposing a zoning change that would allow the development of 35 homes on a property that's only zoned for 11. "This is a small town," Esposito said. "We have low crime. A really good school system. Whenever you have a big influx of population, the school system goes downhill."   Economic factors, however, might dampen the kind of expansion Esposito is fearing. "The lack of affordable housing is a huge issue in Fairfield County," said Keith Cook, co-president and director of construction at Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. In Connecticut, the unemployment rate in February was 8 percent, while the national rate was 7.7 percent. And wages were down $58 a week in Fairfield County in the third quarter of 2012.   Habitat helps people making $35,000 to $40,000 a year become homeowners. It's a difficult task. The standard formula for obtaining a mortgage is that the total home price should not exceed three times yearly income. That's difficult to find in state where the median price for a single family is $225,000. In Fairfield County, that figure is $390,100. Cook said a big reason is that land is so expensive. He said Coastal County works in three communities, Bridgeport, Stamford and Stratford, where they sometimes get deals on land from the cities. Building in a place like Greenwich is out of the question, he said, because the land costs too much.   Even so, Robik and other builders are optimistic. "There are pockets of new development," Robik said. "There's a void there."  ...
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  • Mountain Laurel 013
    10.10.2011   We are close to completing a remodeling of a 2232 square foot, four bedroom two ...and half bathroom home on Mountain Laurel Road in Fairfield. When it is finished the home will feature new: -Buttermilk Kitchen with Crown Molding, Dovetail Drawers, Pull out trash bin, Built-in pantry cabinet, wine and spice rack with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances -Lightly stained hardwood floors throughout -Upgraded, spacious bathrooms including an en suite master -White Carrera marble countertops and subway tile in the bathrooms -Frameless Shower door with Oil Rubbed Bronze Fixtures and a Restoration Hardware French Oak Vanity in the Master Bath -Carpeting in a gracious, comfortable family room -2 Panel Interior doors with Oil Rubbed Bronze hinges and levers -Custom trim work including a built-in bench and coat rack -Carriage House garage doors with wireless keypad -30 year roof -Landscaping featuring a bluestone patio -All New Mechanicals including central air conditioning, furnace with hot air heat, septic system, and a 200 Amp electric system to support modern personal electronics The interior is freshly painted and the home is move in ready. The house is listed on MLS for 829,900. The Mountain Laurel area is one of the most sought after in Fairfield and this is a great opportunity to move into an "as new" home...
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  • hair-today-split_1
    03.10.2011 Al Ziedins walked into O’Neill’s Irish Pub with his fiancée and mother March 12 and had a pint in the bar. He left without his hair. Ziedins was the largest single fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s event held at O’Neill’s. By the start of clipping, he had personally raised more than $3,000. The money goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and is used to fund research and treatment to fight childhood cancers. “I used all avenues of raising money,” Ziedins said at the bar before losing his hair. “Emails, Facebook, asking, begging and pleading: It wasn’t really that hard, quite honestly. People are really willing to give to this organization.” In the final 48 hours before the hair clipping, those fundraising efforts brought a large number of donations flowing in. Ziedins went from the second- to first-place fundraiser, with more than $1,000 in donations coming in on those last two days. The website remains open for more donations. O’Neill’s has participated in the national event for the past four years, but this was the first time Ziedins offered his mane for the cause. Ziedins’ mother, Mara Ziedins, and fiancée, Lauren Alessi, smiled and took pictures as Victor Lacanfora of Mane Street Salon fired up the clippers and took off Ziedins’ locks as his first “customer” of the event. Ten minutes later, Ziedins was sporting the bald look. While this was the first time Ziedins went bald for a good cause, it wasn’t his first endeavor at charity. He has also dedicated his time and labor to help rebuild a church and summer camps in the Catskills. Currently, he works for Robik Glantz Builders constructing new units in Shelton’s Crescent Village. Ziedins joked that he was glad the weather was turning warm with the prospect of spending a few weeks short on hair. “It’s a small sacrifice to make considering what any child facing cancer has to go through,” he said. ...
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  • Crescent Village
    18.10.2011 FAIRFIELD COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL     Crescent Village overcomes problems By Keith Loria     Despite initial cries from the neighborhood over the closing of the long-standing Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton to make room for a 135-unit townhouse complex, things seem to be moving smoothly for the new project.   The Zuckerman family had owned the property for more than 50 years but Jonathan Zuckerman felt the time was right when he sold the 33-acre River Road property to New York City developer Stephen Julias, who set his sights on developing Crescent Village.   Things started slowly as delays were caused by negotiations for a sewage-treatment plant, zoning and a slow changeover from Zuckerman to himself.  The sale was completed in March but the project began about three months behind schedule.   Julias fought for months to win approval to connect the units to the town’s water-treatment plant, and without winning that battle; the project might have never taken off.   It also began somewhat surprisingly with a new developer, as Julias sold the project to Newtown developer Bryan Robik of Robik Glantz Builders after he worked through all the problems.   “Stephen Julias got it approved and I bought it from him as I was looking for deals and was introduced to him by a broker who worked at Coldwell Banker,” Robik said.  “This was good timing wise for me.  I had just completed a 57-unit in Norwalk and so I was actively looking for another deal.  This intrigued me because the approvals were already done.”   WELL RECEIVED   Crescent Village broke ground almost three months ago, and work has started on the initial infrastructure and blasting.  Robik said they are planning to have their first model ready for the sales office in April.   “We’re going to pave the first phase, which is the entrance and the first 33 units this season,” he said.  “Our sales have been pretty good.”   Finding luxury townhouse in this area is not easy, which might explain why expectations are so high.  “We started marketing on phase one of 33 units of which we have 16 deposits,” said Diane Cahill of Century 21.  “We are very well received on our preferred buyer list.  We had our first soft opening releasing the sneak preview of the project.”   The units consists of all two bedroom, 2 ½ bath, some with master bedrooms on the main level. Most have lofts and two-car garages (attached or under). Prices start at $399,900 to $469,900.   “Most of the neighbors came out against it, but after six months, it’s beginning to be well received,” Cahill said.  “Everyone is worried about kids and schools and higher taxes.  We proved that it is a positive project for the community and well needed.  I think they are still celebrating at City Hall.”   TIRED OF FIGHTING CITY HALL   Since there is very little in the corridor next to the Merritt Parkway, it’s a great location for a new development.  Especially now that all the zoning is in place.  Cahill mentioned another project that was recently approved by another developer in downtown Shelton that was well received.  They have 100 units with a waiting list of people who want to get in, she said.   “Shelton is great, the tax base is great with lots of the office parks there,” Cahill said.  “Where can you go and get a luxury town-home today with $2,500 to $3,500 in taxes?  You can’t do that in Westchester.”   And given its proximity to both Route 8 and the Merritt Parkway, Crescent Village is accessible for commuters in Connecticut and Westchester.  “I liked the location because it’s less than two miles to two major highways,” Robik said.  “It’s also across from a yacht club and you can have a boat and get access out to the Sound.”   The Pinecrest Country Club was a banquet hall and catering facility that had been in the Zuckerman family since the mid-50’s and was host to weekly outdoor musical series every summer.  Zuckerman had a series of issues with city officials and it’s believed that he was tired of fighting City Hall when agreed to sell the property....
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  • Scaling Back With Style
    18.10.2011 Scaling Back, With Style One of the hottest areas in real estate is the luxury town house, which allows its owner to live       comfortably in a stylish new home, complete with first-class amenities, without the hassles of maintaining it.  Instead of over extending in a financially uncertain future, “rightsizing” into value-priced, amenity-laden town homes or condominiums makes good economic sense for many risk – adverse, cost-conscious buyers.   Scaling Back, With Style   “People are looking for more Affordable luxury, and part of that equation is defined by price,” explained Bob Gilbane, president and chief executive of Gilbane Development Company. “People are abandoning the ‘McMansions’ and looking for ‘Goldilocks’ houses – not too big, not too small, but just right.” While the footprint may be smaller, town house and condo living makes up for it with both top-of-the-line finishes and appliances, and amenities such as well-equipped fitness centers and club houses with entertaining space for members.  Gilbane’s Coastal Collection at Surfside Narragansett, located in Narragansett, Rhode Island, directly across from Narragansett Beach, caters to buyers from Manhattan, Boston and Providence looking for carefully designed new-construction condos on the beach.  An open floor plan allows Surfside’s condo owners to entertain in their professional chef’s kitchen equipped with Wolfe and Sub Zero appliances while overlooking their great room, expansive deck and ocean beyond.  Granite and marble countertops, oak flooring, a separate laundry area and an attached three-car garage offer the luxury and convenience that are becoming standard elements of a new home.  A resort-style day at Surfside can begin with yoga on the beach or a workout in their executive fitness center – and end with dinner at the onsite Trio Restaurant. Hudson Harbor, a new high-end 30-acre development on the Hudson River in Tarrytown, is using the same water-view approach for its 220-unit development along Hudson River-Walk Park.  Phase one, with 56 town houses and condo units, is now complete, “We are trying to create a New York City – style town house, with real brick and real limestone outside, and 10-foot ceilings, mahogany wood floors, Sub Zero and Viking appliances inside,” said Joe Cotter, president of  Hudson Harbor. “The most dominant feature is that all of the town houses have direct water views of the river.  That is what drives the project through this difficult market.  Plus, we are 100 yards from the train station.  Like New York City, you don’t need a car – you can walk to everything – and walkability is another real plus here.” The buyers, said Cotter, are primarily empty nesters and downsizers from the area who have sold larger homes.  The development is also attracting New Yorkers who moved up to Yonkers and now commute back to the city.  Sales prices range from $590,000 to $2.5 million for the units nearest the water. Prices have been coming down considerably.  Not far from Hudson Harbor is Winchester Village, a gated community comprising 250 residences and located one mile north of Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers.  9 Club Way is a 3,400 square-foot semi-attached town home with an asking price of $779,000 – down from an original asking price of $850,000.  With a bedroom on the first floor and a full basement with its own bedroom, fireplace and plenty of storage, the layout is ideal for older buyers, many of whom have other residences in warmer climate. “A neighbor right next door sold the same model unit two years ago for $1 million – that gives you an idea of the market these days,” said Alicia Dean Hall, sales agent for ERA Insite in White Plains.  “This is back to where the market was in 2005, and at this new discounted price, it’s and extraordinary value for true country club-style living.” Connecticut has several new construction developments that resonate with these new value-driven buyers.  William Raveis Real Estate’s new homes division is currently marketing 30 subdivisions in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  “The buyers are starting to feel like the time is right, but the mindset is much more frugal,” noted John Tarducci, senior vice president of William Raveis Real Estate’s new homes division.  “In the past 30 years, we haven’t had this combination of very low mortgage rates, reasonable pricing and very high affordability for a large segment of the buying public – who are finally able to get into the market because of lower housing prices and lower interest rates.  The good news is that with 15-year mortgages in the low 4-percent range and 30 year mortgages at 5-percent or lower, affordability is much higher than it was the last time we saw those rates 30 years ago.  That means that more and more of the population can afford to buy.” The Renaissance, a 17-story collection of 42 condominiums in Shelton, Connecticut, came online in September 2008 during the height of the economic upheaval.  Home prices there today start at $575,000, a remarkable value with the discount reflecting today’s market built in.  “Because of the level of sophistication of the finishes and the amenities – valet parking, 24/7 concierge service, a rooftop for owners and occupants, a lap pool and massage room, a world-class fitness center and community rooms, and decks where you can gather your friends and have a summer cookout – the Renaissance is over the top with elegance and sophistication,” added Tarducci.  “It is our country version of Manhattan living.” Crescent Village, also in Shelton, offers two unit styles with first-floor master bedrooms to address the needs of the “sandwich generation” – baby boomers taking care of both younger and older family members.  “The idea here was to offer value with sophisticated finishes – so people coming out of a single-family home would feel very comfortable in this environment,” said Tarducci.  “We have several mid-age professionals that have an older parent living with them,  The first-floor master bedroom also works well for a couple or family with college kids who are away, or with one of the parents living them.”...
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  • Knocking Down Walls
    18.10.2011 KNOCKING DOWN WALLS WOMAN ACHIEVES SUCCESS BUILDING By Marjorie J. Passeri Staff Writer     Although gender barriers are all but gone in the work place, in some occupations – particularly those relating to construction – the walls remain.   But that doesn’t bother Monroe’s Ronit Glantz, 28, one of only a handful of female builders in the state, who has constructed more than 30 houses and supervised the development of two major subdivisions since her first project five years ago.   “Sometimes subcontractors who I haven’t worked with before don’t take me seriously at first,” said the petite young woman, standing 5 feet 1 in her work boots.  “But once they realize I know what I’m doing, we have a great relationship.”   Working for a woman was “odd at first,” said Hector Vargas, a siding contractor of Fairfield.  “But she’s very professional – probably one of the better contractors.”   Vargas was among dozens of subcontractors at the site of Glantz’ latest project – Riverview Condominiums, a 49-unit affordable housing complex on 16 acres in Newtown that she is developing with business partner Bryan Robik, also of Monroe.   Construction sites are familiar territory to this soft-spoken Joel Barlow High School graduate, who grew up in Easton.  The daughter of a general contractor, she spent many summers painting trim and puttying nail holes at her father’s jobs.   Leonard Glantz, president of Landmark Homes Inc. in Newtown, said he was surprised and proud his daughter decided to follow in his footsteps.  He gave her a start in the business in 1993 shortly after she graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a business degree.   Impressed by her ability to quickly learn the business, Glantz soon turned over the day-to-day operations to Ronit.  “It gives me great deal of pleasure to see her succeeding at something she really enjoys,” the senior builder said.  “To be able to pass down what I’ve learned in the business to my own daughter is a great feeling.”   By all accounts, the young Glantz is off to a good start in her construction career.   “She’s taking on a lot at a very young age. But she has learned well from her father, who also is a very good builder,” said Tom Paternoster, Newtown’s building official.   Seeing a future in the Newtown’s housing market, Glantz said about half the town is yet undeveloped.  She hopes to continue to build affordable housing, so people her age can own their own homes.   “I am amazed at how expensive things are,” she said, “It’s tough for people my age who get out of college and try to buy a house on income of $30,000 to $40,000,” she said. “I’d like to make owing a home more possible for these first-time buyers.”   Looking back on what she’s accomplished in the past five years, she added, “It’s a great feeling to drive by a house I’ve built and see a family living there.”...
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  • A New Day in the Valley
    18.10.2011 Years ago, the Naugatuck Valley was home to families who lived there for generations, married into the families of other lifelong residents and worked in the many factories that lined the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers.   Then came the fire.   On March 1, 1975, an enormous blaze roared though the B.F. Goodrich Sponge Rubber mattress factory in downtown Shelton in what was one of the largest industrial arsons in the nation’s history.  Some 3,000 people lost their jobs in what was ruled a fire set by factory owners hoping to collect insurance money.   The date of the fire serves as a psychological marker in the history of the Valley.  But, in truth, the demographic changes that would transform this region from a manufacturing mecca to a bedroom suburb already under way.   “The forces were already in place for change; the seeds were sown.  Heavy manufacturing jobs were fading – it was already happening,” said Derby Historical Society President Rob Novak.  “It’s not as if on Feb. 28 everything was thriving in manufacturing and on March 2 we all said, ‘What the hell happened here?’”   Today, the Valley is home to people who work in the corporate office parks of Shelton or commute to jobs in nearby cities.  The region’s lower real estate prices attract homebuyers, a stream of newcomers who mix with those families who have called the Valley home for generations.   And it’s not only Shelton where collars have turned white.   “There’s been a combination of the growth of residential development with the fact that older “empty-nester” families get replaced by young families with children moving in,” said Shelton Zoning Administrator Rick Shultz.  “Shelton is very attractive because it’s affordable for Fairfield County.”   There are problems, too.  Some towns, like Derby, have struggled to duplicate the economic development engineered by Shelton.  And proposals to raise taxes for school funding sometimes have pitted longtime residents against their more affluent new neighbors, officials said.   Peter Bunzl moved to Oxford Greens about five years ago from Westchester County, NY. “My wife found out about this community and she convinced me to go take a look,” he said.  “We got off Route 84 at exit 15, and it was in the springtime, and driving up Route 67 she said this is where we are moving. “  So taken with the town’s landscape, his wife’s decision was made even before seeing Oxford Greens community, Bunzl said. “This was it,” he said.     FORCED OUT   To this day, people talk about the Sponge Rubber factory fire.  “Everyone you knew either worked there or knew someone who worked there,” said Rick Dunne, executive director of the Valley Council of Governments.  “The Fire was the last big blow to the area and resulted in a loss of hope.”   By the time the mattress factory burned down, it and many other factories were turning 100 years old, Novak said.  And along with aging infrastructures, those manufacturing processes were quickly becoming untenable, he said.   “New environmental legislation prevented them from dumping toxic chemicals into the rivers, and they weren’t set up to do anything other than that,” he said.  The new regulations meant the factories had to conform to new, expensive processes that priced them out of the market, he said.  It’s a problem that the few remaining factories must deal with today, and the reason why one – Chromium Process, located next to the former Sponge Rubber site – is all but shuttered.   The fire dealt a near-fatal blow to the Valley’s economy, as 3,000 people found themselves instantly unemployed and the jobless rate skyrocketed to 25 percent, the highest in the state.   At the time, Leon J. Sylvester was the Shelton School District’s director of vocational education.  He would later go on to become superintendent of schools.  Shelton High School had just opened around the time of the fire, Sylvester said, and provided the perfect space to retrain those left unemployed.   “I go together with the state Department of Labor and wrote grant applications under CETA (the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) and the Trades Rehabilitation Act,” Sylvester said.  “We did wonderful things,” he said.  “It was a chance we had to really help unemployed people and make a difference in their lives.”   While the fire was a disaster for both the city and those who worked there, “Shelton made lemonade out of lemons,” said Terry Jones, a longtime member and co-chairman of the Conservation Commission.  The Planning and Zoning Commission created a community with a tax base that is the envy of the area, he said, through its overseeing of Bridgeport Avenue zoning and development, he said.   But the growth also has attracted the interest of federal investigators probing the relationship between developers and Shelton municipal officials.  The ongoing corruption trial of developer James Botti is focusing on whether Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti reaped any inappropriate benefits.  Lauretti has not been charged with any crime and he insists he has done nothing wrong.       A KEY CORRIDOR   Shelton officials also took advantage of the completion of the Route 8 expressway.   “They did some very shrewd land-use planning, with the Route 8 corridor set aside for some really high-quality development,” Jones said.  “It was perfect timing, after the fire, for such development.”  Added to that perfect timing was the completion of Route 8 into Bridgeport, which opened the Valley to the rest of the region.   “Basically, the Valley was so insulated up until that point, “Novak said.  “You could live and work and shop and go to church here.  It had everything you needed.   “The Route 8 expressway changed that – made the Valley more tied in with the rest of the region,” he said.   At the time Bridgeport Avenue was little more than a county road, with only a fraction of the traffic it attracts today.  When Route 8 opened, Bridgeport Avenue was “a nice wide road with adequate utilities and nothing on it but farms,” Novak said.  It sat like an uncut cake, ready to be devoured, he said and city officials took advantage of the opportunity.   “You get one chance in every lifetime to redefine what Shelton is,” Novak said, “and rather than go with factories that belch smoke, most of the area went to corporate offices, which was a huge change.”  A mix of retail and office complexes soon began to line Bridgeport Avenue and its side road, led by developer Robert Scinto’s Corporate Office Park.  And with development came jobs.   “We have enjoyed the best of both developments along that corridor,” Dunne said.  “That economic base has been a jobs generator for the entire Valley, and it is why the Naugatuck Valley changed as Derby and Ansonia moved to become white-collar towns.   “Shelton has been the key,” he said, “and the rest of the Valley has benefited.”   Susan Coyle, co-owner of Real Estate Two in Huntington, agreed.  “Shelton is a great place to live, No. 1, because the taxes are low,” she said.  But the town’s attraction goes beyond that.  It’s easily accessible to New Haven, Bridgeport and New York City, she said and its Fairfield County address also is a draw.   ‘It’s ugly’   The story so far hasn’t ended as happily in Derby, where demolished factories that lined Main Street haven’t been replaced.  Redevelopment plans stalled last year after the preferred developer, Ceruzzi Redevelopment, clashed with city officials over who would pay for the infrastructure upgrades.  City officials are not looking for a new plan for downtown.   “It’s ugly,” said Serena Robbins, who has lived in downtown Derby all of her 28 years.  “We thought they were going to do something with it down there, but so far nothing.”   Robbins said she remembers shopping with her mother in the stores that once lined Main Street. “I think you could say that Derby is still a small hometown,” she said.  “There hasn’t been a whole lot of change here, and I kinda like that.”   One of Derby’s success stories is The Home Depot that opened about eight years ago at the site of the former Farrel factory on Main Street.  Farrel, which made heavy equipment for the rubber industry and also employed thousands through the years, closed in 1997.  The plant was demolished three years later to make way for the home improvement center.   A big-box store also replaced a factory site in Ansonia several years ago.   There, much of the manufacturing that once took place along the Naugatuck River is gone, replaced by retail and housing.  Ansonia had a major fire when Latex Foam burned in 2001.  But instead of folding, the company, which was formed by employees of the former Sponge Rubber factory after that fire, moved back to Shelton on River Road along the Housatonic River.  Target eventually took its place in Ansonia on the banks of the Naugatuck.   Factories like Farrel in Ansonia provided jobs for “just about anyone who graduated from high school,” former Seymour First Selectman Robert Koskelowski said.   “A lot of people went into computers,” he said, and many sought employment at places like Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt and Whitney.   The Silvermine Industrial Park off Route 67 also provided a number of jobs for Seymour residents.   One marked change in his hometown has been the number of upper-income families moving into the large “McMansions” built over the past two decades, Koskelowski said.   “They can afford tax increases where other, longtime residents can’t,” he said.  At times they will attend meetings and advocate for additional budget spending for things such as the town’s schools, he said, when other residents can’t afford tax hikes.   In Oxford, change has come slowly, First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers said.   “In subtle ways it has changed,” said Drayton-Rogers, who moved to Oxford in 1970.   The abundance of active adult housing build in recent years has reshaped the town, she said.  Since 2003, more than 1,400 units have been approved and 459 build, Economic Development Director Herman Schular said.  Oxford Greens on Route 67 is by far the largest, he said, with 932 approved units, half of which are built, followed by Meadowbrook Estates on Meadowbrook Road with 236 units.   Despite the construction boom, Oxford still retains its rural character.  And that’s fine with the Bunzls, who said they have no regrets about their move from Westchester County.   “We love it here, we love the rural atmosphere,” Peter Bunzl said.  “We have no complaints if we have to get in a car and drive five or six miles to a grocery store.  That’s fine with us.”                    ...
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