Town officials are hopeful the recent sale of the dilapidated Firelite Shopping Center will mean a much-needed facelift for a prime piece of commercial real estate in town. According to town records, the 54,791 square-foot center was sold by Orange Holdings LLC to 35 Old Tavern Road LLC for $3.8 million. Records in the secretary of the state’s office indicate one of the principals in the LLC that purchased the property is Robert Sachs of Branford who is a principal in the development of Fieldstone Farms Estates. In May, the property was listed with Arnold Peck Commercial World for $4.4 million.
At one time the Firelite, which borders Racebrook and Old Tavern roads and runs parallel to the Post Road, was a thriving center which housed a popular bridal shop, meat market, bakery, skate shop and eateries. Upon its recent sale, most of the stores were vacant and a nail shop, Chinese restaurant and bank are among the few businesses that remain on the 6.6-acre property.
Refurbishing that area was a hot topic during last year’s campaign for First Selectman. First Selectman Jim Zeoli maintains that residents expect the town to redevelop run-down retail spots in town and don’t realize they are owned by private individuals over which the town has no control. The Firelite is among several properties the town has targeted for potential redevelopment. While he does not know what’s in store for the Firelite, and whether the new developer has plans to demolish or refurbish the existing structure, Zeoli says he’s excited about the possibilities. “Preliminary talks with the new developers have been positive and although I don’t know any specifics, there have been some good ideas,” he said. “We want something that works for the residents and is also financially viable.” Robert Sachs could not be reached for comment.
In 2016 the Town Plan and Zoning Commission denied an application by a New York Limited Liability Company, Roeco, LLC, to amend the Orange Zoning Regulations to create a “Town Center District” (TCD) at the shopping center. The new zone would have permitted mixed-use development of the property with residential dwellings and retail stores that allows people to live, work, and shop in close proximity.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent