Dave & Buster's targets Manchester for first location in Connecticut

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Oct. 11, 2013
Dave & Buster's proposed site is right next to the Market Grille, across from the Shoppes at Buckland Hills.  Photo by Corey AmEnde.
Dave & Buster's proposed site is right next to the Market Grille, across from the Shoppes at Buckland Hills. Photo by Corey AmEnde.

Dave & Buster's is moving closer to gaining approval to build its first location in Connecticut, in Manchester. The Shoppes at Buckland Hills submitted an application for development of a 26,400-square-foot, single-story Dave & Buster's that would be constructed in the open area between the Market Grille and Fairfield Inn Suites Hotel and would be situated next to the Market Grille.

“We look forward to being a new business in your community, hopefully by the fourth quarter of 2014,” said Michele Wright, an entitlement specialist and project manager with L.D. Reeves & Associates, a member of the Dave & Buster's development team implementing their national growth program. Dave & Buster's was founded in December of 1982 in Dallas, Texas, and features more than 60 locations across the country, according to the company website.

“It is a full-service restaurant offering an array of quality food and a variety of beverage items as well as an extensive assortment of interactive entertainment ranging from shuffleboard and billiards to state-of-the-art simulators,” said Wright.

The proposed construction schedule for the entire site is, “from fall of this year to the fall of next year,” said Corey Garro, representing the design team from Close Jensen & Miller.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the preliminary site development plan at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 7, but concerns regarding items such as the color palette and lighting prompted the committee to vote in favor of an extension on the decision of the detailed site development plan. “Honestly, I find the – and no offense to the architect – the building is remarkably unremarkable and it doesn't do anything for me,” said Andy Kidd, vice chair of the P& Z. “Now, personal opinions, absolutely. Is it in keeping with the nature of some of the surrounding buildings? Doubtful as far as I'm concerned, and that's what we need to discuss with the board.”

The approval of the preliminary plan gives the green light for excavation work and foundation work to begin, however permits for building and utilities cannot be obtained until the final plan is approved. As a result, Dave & Buster's does not wish to begin construction until the final plan is approved.

“General Growth, as the land owner, and Dave & Buster's would not be comfortable in undertaking the liability of starting construction if we don't know what we're going to build,” said Wright.

The color palette, which includes colors such as tan, light tan, orange, and dark orange, came into question during the recent P & Z meeting. Kidd challenged the color choices saying, “is this the only configuration that Dave & Buster's employs or are there some variations possible with this? We actually had a recent application with the Home Depot and curtailed their use of orange across their roof line and this, in my opinion, has more orange than what the Home Depot was actually going after.”

Tom Smiciklas, who represents Aria Group Architects, the firm working with Dave & Buster's, said the proposed look of Dave & Buster's is, “their brand, and this is their new marketing scheme,” said Smiciklas. “If you felt there was too much orange we could shuffle maybe some of the colors around, but at the end of the day it's still going to have this feel because this is the kit,” said Smiciklas.

P & Z member Michael Stebe brought up a concern over the amount of lighting associated with the proposed structure. “I don't know of any other building that has a light going around the whole exterior roof line,” said Stebe. “Lights for having lights to be able to see is great, but lights to be able to advertise and lights that are going to flood and saturate down into areas that really don't need light, I think that's something to look at,” added Stebe.

The P & Z also questioned the orientation of the structure on the site, considering the overlooking views of Hartford and the shopping and restaurant developments below. The current proposal has the front of the Dave & Buster's facing the mall with the back facing Hartford. “This is one of the very prominent sites,” said Chirag Thaker, secretary of the P & Z. “I don't think it's the best use of that site from the visibility standpoint.”

Despite some constructive comments from the P & Z regarding the proposed design of Dave & Buster's, the commission did recognize the potential benefits of this project. “Aggregate, your design is really nice,” said Thaker. “I think it's going to add a lot of character, it's going to create activity in the Town of Manchester, so we appreciate that and we're hoping that we can come to some conclusion on this application.”

“If you came back with essentially the same shape, honestly, I don't think I'd deny it based on just that. I don't think that's the direction that the board is going,” said Kidd. “I know we'd like to have you in town. I think it would be a great addition.”

The P & Z will discuss the detailed site development plan at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 21.

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