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‘Established Grower’ to Open at Former Hinman’s Flower Shop and Garden Center

March 8, 2016 Business, Community No Comments
Steven Stang, with the help of local contractors, is fixing up 175 Albany Turnpike in Canton. Photo by John Fitts

Steven Stang, with the help of local contractors, is fixing up 175 Albany Turnpike in Canton.
Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

CANTON – An “established grower” is planning to sell plants at the former Hinman’s Flower Shop and Garden Center, said Steven Stang, who now owns the property at 175 Albany Turnpike (Route 44).

Stang said he could not yet divulge the tenant’s identity but said the plan is to get it up and running by the end of April. Initially it will be a seasonal business and Stang hopes it becomes a long-term venture.

“It would be my hope that it would grow into something permanent,” said Stang, who, in January, purchased the property for $380,000 from Collinsville Saving Bank. “It’s the kind of use I was looking for.”

Stang, with the help of area contractors, is currently fixing up the property, and rehabbing the retail site with the adjoining greenhouse – about 3,380 square feet in all. Last month, he received permission from the Planning and Zoning Commission to modify the site plan to allow for retail and service business use of up to 3,500 square feet on the property.  Town officials said that while the town’s former regulations allowed for agricultural-related uses, it did not specify retail operations.

One of Stang’s main goals for the property is to provide parking and access in the rear through adjoining parcels that he owns. It’s Stang’s hope that it will improve flow with neighboring properties and help alleviate some safety issues.

Stang said that in the 1980s, Canton’s former town engineer – the late Robert ‘Ken’ Kenneth Wassall –  was eager to connect properties on Route 44.

Stang owns several properties to the east of the building, dubbed historic 44 marketplace, and said the idea of connectivity has been a good one.

Geordie Sneddon of Celtic painting works at 175 Albany Turnpike. Photo by John Fitts

Geordie Sneddon of Celtic painting works at 175 Albany Turnpike.
Photo by John Fitts

“We have followed that lead long since then,” he said. “It’s worked out very well. We’ve got a lot of compatible uses that support each other.”

In addition, Kim Hathaway, owner of “The Blue house: Nice Old Things,” has also provided connectivity from her lot to the marketplace shops.

At 175 Albany, Stang wants to continue that trend –with parking in the rear – partially out of safety concerns, a better traffic flow and similar signage.

The traffic light near the business has been the site of numerous accidents. In addition to other issues, Stang said some motorists traveling north on Dowd – where a left turn is not allowed – will go sometimes go “straight” and try to cut over to the business.

“Perhaps the most significant issue is access,” Stang wrote in his zoning application. 175 Albany Turnpike currently uses a driveway that is in the intersection with Dowd Avenue and Albany Turnpike. This creates and extremely dangerous situation.”

“I want to try to de-emphasize the attraction from over there,” he said during the meeting. “I don’t want the front to be the access to this.”

At the meeting last month, some neighbors expressed concerns, including one that, if approved, someone would someday want to put a more intensive use on the site.

“We’re talking about a much bigger use down the road perhaps but it’s not clear from the application to me, how this is going to play out,” Trails End resident Catherine Wilowski said at the meeting last month.

Planning and Zoning Commissioners did put several conditions on the approval such as a maximum 3,500 square feet of building space. Stang also plans to post signage that ties in with the adjacent properties.

In recent years, an alternate plan for the area had surfaced as several developers had eyed the area for much larger projects. During the meeting last month, Neil Pade, the town’s director or planning and community development, said he had seen conceptual plans for gas stations, car washes, fast food establishments and pharmacies.

Some of those plans would have likely come with a state requirement to fund a revamped traffic light. That would dictate a “high-use” commercial enterprise, Stang said. He felt it wasn’t right for the location.

“None of them really sat very well with me because it didn’t fit the theme of what we were trying to do,” Stang said during the meeting. “I thought it was going to dramatically change the character.”

At the meeting, Pade, partially in response to some concerns from area residents, said there are certainly mixed feelings in the public.

“I think many people who are really gung-ho economic development interests in this community might be disappointed in Mr. Stang’s plans and I think people who are concerned about maintaining the character of this quaint little shopping village will be more appreciative of Mr. Stang’s plans,” Pade said. “I think you have people on both sides of that opinion.”

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