Miami firm chosen to help redevelop downtown Derby
Updated 11:44 pm, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
DERBY — The city has chosen a Miami firm, which is conducting a similar redesign in Bethel, to develop and oversee a plan to revitalize the soon-to-be-bare 14 acres on the south side of Main Street.
Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Co., also known as DPZ and Partners, outlasted 10 other candidates in being selected for the $445,000 contract to redevelop the downtown.
The 11 companies that filed proposals in January were whittled down to six finalists by a Consultant Selection Committee which includes Carmen DiCenso, the city’s Board of Aldermen president, and Ted Estwan, the Planning and Zoning Commission chairman.
Mayor Anita Duggato, a practicing dentist who operates Sunflower Dental downtown, said she’d like the committee to remain active as a continuous group to help foster the project “no matter what happens in the political realm.”
To do that requires Corporation Counsel Thomas Welch to draft a proposal containing how the board is appointed, its members’ duties and the length of their terms. It would then have to be approved by the Board of Aldermen.
Additionally, the city must now draft a contract for DPZ, which the aldermen must also approve.
“I’m hopeful we can get that done at the May meeting,” Dugatto said. “The ultimate goal of this project is to create a clear path for development — one that residents can rally behind — that best positions the city for private investment.”
DPZ and their Congress for New Urbanism, a nonprofit organization, are both known for creating and advocating pedestrian-oriented, transit-ready neighborhoods.
“That’s something the millenials are looking for,” Dugatto said. “They want a place to live where you can walk out the door to eat and shop and use mass transit to get to work.”
The city has a downtown train station within walking distance from the project.
The area, which once contained iconic Valley businesses like Howard & Barber, Vonetes’ Palace of Sweets and Hubbell Brothers shoes, is almost vacant. Only four buildings, three of which are occupied, still stand. All will be demolished.
Fans of TV’s “Miami Vice” might recall the condominium tower with the hole in the middle. That was designed by Arquitectonica, a firm that DPZ’s Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, helped establish. The company also has offices in Washington, D.C., and Germany which helped develop over 400 communities.
Currently they are working in nearby Bethel to rezone and redesign about 260 acres surrounding its train station with pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development.
As part of this “Bethel Forward” process, DPZ and the town organized public meetings in October and conducted five days of interactive design discussion in November. and in mid-November five days of interactive design discussions.
It’s an “out of the box approach” like this that impressed DiCenso with DPZ.
“All of the presentations were well done,” he said of the interviews conducted recently. “Not only did the interviews allow us to ask important questions of the firms and their team members, but they also provided us with insight which ultimately strengthened our approach to the project.”
DiCenso said DPZ “came at this with a different approach. We want the downtown to be pedestrian-friendly. We are not trying just to rebuild the south side of Main Street. We want people crossing over from Route 34 to come here.”
He said once the contract is signed, DPZ will begin meeting with residents and businesses to discuss ideas.
DPZ did not immediately return a call or email for comment.