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September 26, 2023

Apartments, ‘24-hour environment’ proposed in empty retail space at Danbury Fair Mall

Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons The Danbury Fair Mall.

Up to 75,000 square feet of retail space at the Danbury Fair Mall could be converted into apartments, as the mall looks for ways to put empty retail space back to use.

Danbury Mall LLC has proposed a zoning text amendment that would allow it to create a “24-hour environment” in a portion of the building, which could include apartments and a brew pub.

The mall has asked the town Planning and Zoning Commission to designate the 116-acre site as a Mixed-Use Regional Mall Zoning District, which would allow dozens of non-retail uses.

The proposal would allow as many as 144 residential units in the former Lord & Taylor department store, which has been empty for years.

The application states that 93% of the gross building area would remain non-residential.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is set to meet Tuesday night to discuss and possibly take action on the application. A public hearing was held on Sept. 12.

The Danbury Fair Mall contains 1.6 million square feet of retail space, roughly 40% of the total of 3.9 million square feet of retail space in Danbury, an attorney for the mall noted in a zoning application dated Aug. 11.

“Unfortunately, the simple retail economic fact is that all 1.6 million square feet cannot be maintained as pure retail space into the future,” Attorney Thomas W. Beecher wrote. “Flexibility of uses are needed.”

The proposal comes at a time when malls across the state are contemplating non-retail uses that would help them remain sustainable as customers continue to shift to online retailers.

Recently, pickleball courts opened at the Stamford Town Center mall and the Crystal Mall in Waterford was sold at auction.

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