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Developer eyes Vishay Vitramon site for retail village

May 8, 2019

Developers want to turn the former Vishay Vitramon Co. property into a retail hub for Monroe.

Resident Robert Dunbar is looking to transform the vacant lot along Main Street and Victoria Drive into a 150,000-square-foot shopping center that he said he hopes will revamp the town’s retail scene.

“When you come into Monroe, it’s not very enticing,” he said, adding that the town has often been overlooked by developers in favor of Bridgeport and Trumbull.

“I think this can help ignite new or redevelopment of Monroe,” Dunbar said.

The project still has to be formally proposed and approved by the planning and zoning committee before it can move forward, but Dunbar said he received favorable comments when he presented his concept to town officials.

He said he plans to submit a full plan for the project in the summer or early fall.

Initial concepts for the project call for a six-building layout on 15 acres. Dunbar said he wants to provide a walkable center with a mix of restaurants and stores.

He envisions leasing space out to national brands, stepping away from his hometown’s traditional mom-and-pop shop scene.

“The one thing that I didn’t want to design or have developed is your typical shopping center which has this big sea of asphalt,” Dunbar said.

The plot of land had been home to Vitramon since the 1960s. The company sold the parcel for about $3.5 million and razed the 84,000-square-foot plant in 2013.

The parcel and a neighboring lot were originally targeted by developers for a new Walmart and a shopping center along the corridor. The retail giant wanted to create almost four acres of shopping, but the plan was scrapped toward the end of 2017.

Both lots have stayed vacant and zoned for a retail project since then, which Dunbar saw as an opportunity.

“It’s now just reworking it to fit our model,” Dunbar said. “A lot of the leg work already had been done.”

If approved, the project would be located at one of the gateways into the town.

“I think it will be a phenomenal addition to our town,” said Monroe first selectman Ken Kellogg. “I’m extremely happy and pleased that someone who not only wants to develop this (site) but (also that it’s) someone who lives in our town and cares about the community.”

Jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com