Date: Fri 28-May-1999
Kasper Scales Back Plans For Queen St Shopping Center
BY ANDREW GOROSKO
Developer Joseph Kasper has dropped plans to build the second phase of Newtown
Shopping Village, having failed to reach a purchase agreement with the man who
owns the Church Hill Road property where that construction would take place.
Mr Kasper, doing business as Newtown Shopping Village, Limited Partnership,
presented Borough Zoning Commission members May 25 with plans showing the
redeveloped Queen Street Shopping Center without the second construction
That phase would have included roughly 20,000 square feet of enclosed space
extending from the Dunkin' Donuts shop toward Church Hill Road. It would also
have included an accessway to the shopping center from Church Hill Road. Mr
Kasper said that the lack of that accessway will not pose any traffic problems
in the town center.
Mr Kasper said Ernest Wiehl, who is doing business as Pepper Partners, Limited
Partnership, wants much more money for a two-acre parcel along Church Hill
Road than he is willing to pay for it. Mr Kasper did not disclose prices. Mr
Kasper said he has been seeking to buy the land, which holds the former Oberg
service station, from Mr Wiehl for the past decade.
"There is no phase two," he told Borough Zoning Commission members.
Mr Kasper, however, later held out the possibility that at some point in the
future he will acquire the Wiehl property and build the second phase of the
After lengthy consideration in January 1996, Borough Zoning Commission members
approved Mr Kasper's proposal for the redeveloped shopping center whose prime
tenant is Big Y supermarket.
Before the redevelopment project occurred, the shopping complex, formerly
known as Newtown Shopping Center, had lost many of its tenants and fallen into
a state of disrepair. The redeveloped shopping center has 89,000 square feet
of enclosed space.
The modified site plan for the shopping center contains four basic changes: an
altered property boundary line showing the project to be smaller than
initially planned; landscaping changes; the addition of two parking spaces for
the handicapped; and the deletion of a requirement that Mr Kasper provide a
private security force for the shopping center.
In an April 30 letter to the commission, First Selectman Herbert Rosenthal
writes, in part, "None of our shopping centers have their own security
patrolling the outside of the stores and parking areas, and I am not aware of
a resulting increase in crime that would necessitate it... Requiring this type
of security might give the wrong message to shoppers and unduly alarm our
citizens. Therefore, I hope the commission will not enforce this requirement."
In January 1996, the commission required round-the-clock private security at
the redeveloped shopping center to deal with problems such as loitering and
harassment of patrons which had occurred at the old shopping center.
Borough Zoning Commission members took no action on Mr Kasper's site plans May
25, asking him to submit revised information for their review. The commission
is scheduled to address the matter again on June 15.
"I think Newtown Shopping Village is an extremely attractive parcel now" which
offers valuable services to the community, Mr Kasper said. He stressed his
hope to eventually reach terms with Mr Wiehl to acquire and develop the
two-acre parcel on Church Hill Road which would complete the redeveloped
When the commission approved the redevelopment project in 1996, most residents
who spoke on the proposal voiced support. However, some said they feared that
an expanded shopping center would generate more traffic on streets in the town
center, and especially on the heavily-traveled Church Hill Road, posing yet
more traffic congestion problems there.
In 1996, Borough Zoning Commission members were exacting when they granted Mr
Kasper a special exception to the borough zoning regulations to redevelop the