Application Filed To Demolish Antique Main Street Building


51 Main St. in New Canaan on May 25, 2022. Credit: Michael Dinan

As anticipated, the owner of a long-unoccupied antique house on Main Street last week filed for an application to demolish the structure after town officials denied an application connected to a plan for redeveloping the property.

Arnold Karp on Friday filed the demo application with the New Canaan Building Department.

The filing comes about one week after the Historic District Commission denied Karp’s application for a Certificate of Appropriateness to move the ca. 1889-built house at 51 Main St.—known locally as “the Red Cross Building,” after its longtime former owner—closer to the road.

That relocation is part of a plan to build a new multifamily structure behind it. Karp’s proposal calls for a 20-unit building in which six units would be rented at below-market rates as part of an affordable housing development. 

The Planning & Zoning Commission earlier this year denied Karp’s application for the project, and that decision is currently under appeal in state Superior Court. In an affordable housing appeal, in towns such as New Canaan where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as affordable—as laid out in section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes—a property owner such as Karp who proposes a project where at least 30% of all units will be rented at affordable rates can bypass the local P&Z denial. 

Karp has two other projects, at Weed and Elm Streets and on Hill Street, under appeal with the state.

The new demo application likely will prompt an objection letter that could lead to a 90-day delay on the razing of the Red Cross building. 

Under Section 12A-9 of the Town Code, if the Town Building Official “receives a pertinent written objection to the application within 15 days following publication of the [demolition] notice, then the Building Official shall promptly refer such objection to the Historical Review Committee.” 

If the Committee finds that “the structure is of historical, architectural or cultural significance” to the town, it may delay demolition by up to 90 days.

Yet it isn’t clear whether, even if the demo permit is issued, Karp will be free to pursue the demolition, given that the town’s own regulations for the Historic District specify that “No building or structure shall be erected or altered within the historic district until after an application for a ‘Certificate of Appropriateness’ as to exterior architectural features has been submitted to the Historic District Commission and approved by the Commission.”

The Historic District Commission one year ago signaled its intention to deny the application.

One thought on “Application Filed To Demolish Antique Main Street Building

  1. Over the past several months, there have been several meetings regarding affordable housing. These meetings have included Housing Authority officals, Town Leaders, Developers, Lawmakers, Attorneys and commets from residents. In the past few years, both Mill- Millport Apts. and Canaan Parish have been redeveloped. While we as a community work toward dealing with the 830g law,,I suggest people living in low income and affordable housing have a seat at the table to offer input as to their experience in these complexs.

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