Stew Property Back On The Market

The clock struck midnight for another developer who unsuccessfully attempted to redevelop a 44-acre Marsh Hill Road parcel owned by Stew Leonard Jr. and his family. {{more}}

And so the land continues to sit vacant except for some corn that is grown in the rear of the parcel. The property, which is one of the most desirable untapped parcels in the state because of its location and close proximity to Interstate 95, is back on the market, confirmed Vince Summa, who is chief financial officer for Stew Leonard’s.

The developer, Belfonti Companies, of Hamden, was not able to secure a tenant for the property.

“The developer did not renew the option to buy the property after the option period expired. The property is back on the market, with an asking price of $7.5 million,” Summa said.

It is listed with SCA Commercial Realty of Westport.

Summa said company officials were not surprised that the option was not renewed.

“The intended use would have required a rezoning of the property, which is problematic in Orange. It is back on the market and we are confident that in time, a qualified buyer will be found,” Summa said.

Summa’s comments allude to the complicated past concerning the parcel. For 14 years Leonard attempted to develop the site into his dairy store, and every step of the way a group of neighbors called Save Our Neighborhood filed legal challenges delaying the project.

Leonard has zoning approval for the site, but an Inland Wetlands and Watercourses approval was overturned by the State Supreme Court in 2008, which meant Leonard would have to refile with the town.

A few years ago, Leonard decided to abandon plans to build a store in Orange, and has been trying to sell it to no avail.

In January 2012 Shelton developer Robert D. Scinto became the first person to try and redevelop the site. His option expired last year.

Scinto appeared close to a combination of distribution, manufacturing and research and development project, but plans never materialized

Orange First Selectman James Zeoli declined comment.

Board of Selectman member Mitch Goldblatt said the parcel should have been developed years ago as a Stew Leonard’s store.

“Significant tax revenues were lost, economic development opportunities were missed, needed jobs were never developed, and Edison Road would have long since been completed at no cost to the taxpayers. Now with United Illuminating and Yale West Campus nearby, and Edison Road soon to open, it would be nice to have this land finally developed with another large tenant to help complete the Marsh Hill Road corridor,” Goldblatt said.

The original Stew Leonard’s proposal for Orange called for a 120,000-square-foot dairy store, a restaurant and 50,000 square feet of additional retail space. There are stores in Norwalk, Danbury, Newington and Yonkers, N.Y. and Leonard has plans for a store in Long Island.