Wegmans pledges investment in Norwalk as grocery chain seeks approval of first CT site

NORWALK — Wegmans, the New York-based upscale grocery chain, is pledging to provide donations and scholarships to the local community as the company seeks approval to open its first Connecticut location.

In an application submitted to Norwalk’s planning and zoning department, Wegmans said the company plans to make significant investments in the city if the more than 91,000 square foot store is approved.

“Wegmans is proud to invest in the communities it serves,” company officials wrote in the application. “His charitable efforts from New York to North Carolina include efforts to feed the hungry, enrich neighborhoods and fund educational opportunities.”

The grocery chain’s application did not specify the contributions. But a spokesperson noted that the company donated more than 26 million pounds of food to local food banks last year and recently awarded $6 million in scholarships to employees.

Wegmans is seeking approval from the Norwalk Planning and Zoning Commission to build the store on an 11-acre site at 47 Richards Ave. between Connecticut Avenue and Interstate 95.

The chain is proposing to demolish MBI’s existing 110,000 square foot office building to make way for the two-story brick grocery store and a garage with several hundred parking spaces, according to the application.

Floor plans show the store will include more than a dozen grocery and checkout aisles, a bakery, deli and cafe with seating on the second level. The interior of the store, depending on the application, was designed to resemble an open-air market.

“Customers will be able to purchase fresh produce, artisan breads, baked goods prepared on site, fresh meat and seafood, as well as other gourmet and staple foods and staples typically found on a food market,” the officials wrote in the request.

As part of the proposal, the company is also seeking a rezoning that will allow for the construction of a parking lot, a cupola and a clock tower – a design feature found in most Wegmans locations.

In addition to demolishing the MBI Building, Wegmans is proposing to demolish a pair of commercial buildings at 677 and 651 Connecticut Ave. to build a new road allowing customers to access the store.

The application says the new roadway and existing entrances on Richards and Keeler Avenues will prevent traffic delays at the store.

“The proposed parking area is designed to provide safe and convenient vehicular and pedestrian access,” officials wrote in the application.

The demolished commercial buildings will then be rebuilt with a facade of brick, stone and metal, according to demand. The future tenants of the buildings have not yet been announced.

The proposal has already cleared a major hurdle. The Norwalk Conservation Commission voted last month to approve plans for the store.

Steve Kleppin, the city’s director of planning and zoning, said Monday that Wegmans was scheduled to present his proposal to the planning and zoning commission on June 2. He said a public hearing for the store could be held as early as July 20.

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