Since this development is situated partially on an historic, industrial zoned site, rezoning to mixed-use was required in order to complete this project. Our design team was successful in achieving a newly adopted Planned Area Development (PAD) designation, which fosters community mixed-use and higher densities than found in other zones, by demonstrating the beneficial impact the development would have on the community, both in terms of expanding housing options and reuse of one of Simsbury’s historic assets, as well as creating tax base and employment opportunities.
This comprehensive project required the collaboration of our internal civil, structural, planning, design, landscape architecture, transportation, and environmental engineering teams to bring this venture to a successful conclusion. As a multidiscipline planning, design, and engineering firm, we were able to seamlessly integrate all project components while promoting sustainability and preserving historic features.
As part of the project, the grist mill was completely restored, and it now houses Millwright’s Restaurant, one of the most popular and successful restaurants in the region. The restaurant itself was gutted and completely restored to reflect the building’s colonial-era history. Its open design and rustic architecture, combined with dramatic views of the waterfall and excellent cuisine, has made it one of the most popular and talked-about restaurants in Central Connecticut.
A number of creative design elements were used that focused the residential complex around a central village green and community center adjacent to two small ponds. A cantilevered observation deck overlooking the ponds, along with expansive public green space and rain garden were incorporated into the overall design. Walking trails and pedestrian-friendly streetscape designs complement the scenic waterfall located on the site.
The design team was also committed to promoting sustainability. In addition to being environmentally responsible, the team felt that a sustainable approach would also provide a much better quality of life for residents. The completed project features huge swaths of green space, in addition to the existing ponds. Designers were able to maximize the amount of green space by providing parking beneath each individual residential unit. Of the development’s 18 acres, fully one-third is comprised of green space. All interiors for the new apartments were certified as Energy Star rate 3.0.
The project was the first in town to utilize the newly adopted Planned Area Development (PAD) designation, which fosters community mixed use and higher densities than found in other zones. The design team was able to earn this designation by demonstrating the beneficial impact the development would have on the community, both in terms of expanding housing options and reuse of one of Simsbury’s historic assets, creating tax base and permanent jobs.
This remarkable development has earned significant public recognition and numerous awards including the coveted Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut awards.
The Town of Simsbury, as well as the immediate community created by this project, has reaped significant economic rewards from this endeavor, as well as a more comfortable and enjoyable quality of life for its residents. It has transformed an abandoned industrial site into one of Connecticut’s most vibrant, sustainable, and attractive communities.