COLONY — As he celebrates 100 years in the jewelry business, Frank Adams plans to move from his home in Stuyvesant Plaza to Wolf Road.
“We’ve been to three places in 100 years. This location is where we want to be for the next 100 years,” Jeffrey Russell, one of Frank Adams’ owners, told the Planning Board on Tuesday, March 8. “The location is perfect and the design of the building is amazing and it will be a focal point on Wolf Road. It will be a destination.
One of the reasons for the move, he said, is that the new location will have a dedicated parking lot for the jewelry store, while Stuyvesant Plaza is an open-air mall with many stores sharing a large parking lot. Parking, however, and the configuration of the two proposed buildings on 1.5 acres near the intersection of Cerone Commercial Drive, were discussed during the review of the sketch plan.
As presented, the front of the buildings – the second building has no tenants yet – would face Wolf Road. The jewelry store would be a one-story building of 7,050 square feet and the second would be a one-story 5,750 square feet.
On the one hand, parking would be up to code, at the rear of the building and not along the main thoroughfare, but on the other hand, the rear of the building would face Wolf Road.
“There is a zoning dispute, but historically this council has had a practice of setting the building back and allowing parking in front,” said planning council member Craig Shamlian. “I would be in favor of pushing the building further back and allowing parking in front.”
Another downside of the layout, said Sean Maguire, director of the Department of Planning and Economic Development, is that it doesn’t further the goal of making Wolf Road the city’s main street.
“We want to see Wolf Road active. Not a passive place where cars enter the parking lot and people enter the building. If there is no pedestrian activity, it looks like dead space,” he said. “If we’re going to leverage Wolf Road as the downtown core of the city, we need to have foot traffic.”
Russell said parking at the back of the store is part of an overall security plan that includes bulletproof glass and a full-time security guard on site. Plus, he said, the wares he sells — jewelry and high-end watches from manufacturers like Rolex — don’t lend themselves to casual foot traffic.
“You don’t walk down Wolf Road and decide you want to pull into Frank Adams Jewelry. You want to park comfortably in a location that creates a warm and safe environment for customers,” he said. “We have an endorsement of Rolex and endorsement of some other brands we sell. This whole process took a year in the works.
Steven Heider, chairman of the Planning Board and former chief of police, didn’t necessarily agree with the security argument but was not opposed to the setup as presented.
“Of the activity we had on Wolf Road, they tend to start from behind because they know they will be blocked by traffic on Wolf Road,” he said. “Wolf Road wonderful walking community but they walk to any of the restaurants or fast food outlets. They don’t walk to jewelry stores,” he said. “I’m less concerned with front parking than front design. It should look like the facade of the building even though it is not the facade of the building.
Jonathan Draper, the WCGS architect who designed the buildings, said the side facing Wolf Road would be glass and “attractive and vibrant”.
The project will need to come back to council at least twice more – for concept acceptance and final site plan approval – before construction can begin and the council requests a sketch of the building’s facade facing Wolf Road to compare to the current layout.
The site, owned by developer and entrepreneur Tom Burke, is the former home of auto shop Lazare and a site redevelopment plan was approved in 2018. A Longhorn Steakhouse was built at the south end of the site and opened in 2019. The two buildings currently before the Planning Board would be at the north end of the site and between the two is an approved Hyatt hotel, but construction has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts that she had on the hospitality industry.
The Planning Board had previously approved a restaurant for the part of the plot where the jewelry store and second building are now proposed, said Nick Costa, of Advanced Engineering and Surveying, who presented the plan on behalf of Frank Adams. The site is zoned Commercial Officer Residential and would include 64 parking spaces and two exit lanes, one on Wolf Road and one Cerone Commercial Drive. Much of the site work has already been completed in accordance with 2018 approvals.