‘They Have a Purpose’: Owner Likely Has Plans for Contiguous Properties Downtown, Officials Say

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The "Telephone Lot" or "Cherry Lot" downtown. Streetview

Officials said Tuesday that they’re expecting the owner of a .2-acre parcel downtown that the town uses as a permitted parking lot to combine that property with two others for some type of project, possibly very soon.

The town has sold 28 annual permits at $436 apiece for what long has been known as the “Telephone Lot” on Cherry Street. Last April, a limited liability company whose principal is a New Canaan man purchased the property for $625,000. 

Robert Cuda and his family also own numbers 21 and 25 Burtis Ave. under different companies, according to local tax and state business records. Located in the Business A zone, those two properties total .3 acres combined, meaning the Telephone Lot makes a half-acre total.

Tom Stadler, administrative officer for the first selectman, said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, “I think they have a purpose in mind, down the road they will put those three lots together.”

“I don’t know how long this will last,” Stadler said of the town’s lease agreement with Cherry Lot LLC. “It could end next week.”

The discussion arose as the selectmen voted 3-0 to approve a lease agreement with Cherry Lot LLC under an arrangement that New Canaan has had for 40 years. Under the lease, the property owner pays its taxes to the town and the town pays back that amount plus $1. Currently, the annual real estate taxes on the property are about $8,400. 

The taxes recently have gone up, and New Canaan in the budget for this fiscal year has $6,600 set aside for the lease agreement, so approving additional funding for it would go next to the Board of Finance, officials said.

The arrangement has worked out well for New Canaan: The town takes in about $12,000 in permit revenue in exchange for paying off some $8,000 in taxes.

Plus, Selectman Nick Williams noted during the meeting, held at Town Hall, the lot creates more parking spaces for commuters and downtown workers. 

Selectman Kit Devereaux asked what would happen if the lot’s owner decides to begin developing the property next week. Stadler said there’s a provision in the lease for 90 days’ notice.

Permit-holders have been told on purchasing their permits that there’s a chance New Canaan could lose its access to the parking spaces, officials said. 

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Devereaux and Williams voted in favor of the lease agreement.

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