Litchfield Crossings, which once hoped to be a jewel near the southern entrance to New Milford, is struggling to live up to the bright promises offered by its developer.

Still, Paul Scalzo, principal in Danbury Road Developers, the limited liability company struggling to build the 282,000-square-foot retail plaza, said last week a major turnaround is just around the corner.

"It's all going to be transformed," Scalzo said of the 169 Danbury Road (Route 7 South) plaza. "Another construction supervisor is coming in and getting things going again. We're bringing in a new partner to the LLC, and eight regional and national stores and restaurants are coming in.

"Because Danbury is doing so well, people are leapfrogging into New Milford," Scalzo added. "I truly believe three to five years from now, New Milford will be known for its good retail and restaurant locations."

"Litchfield Crossings will provide a very strong retail presence," he opined.

With just more than 128,500 square feet of retail build-out completed at the plaza -- and 17,400 square feet of that unoccupied -- the major chain stores of Kohl's, HomeGoods and Big Lots seem adrift on a sea of rough asphalt. They opened there last fall and winter.

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Litchfield Crossings time line
2005: Danbury Developers buy 169 Danbury Road parcel, plan 228,000-square-foot retail/office plaza.
2007: Property's 30-plus acres clearcut of vegetation.
2008: Economic downturn causes Target anchor store to pull out.
2009: Plan for development changed to two phases.
2010: Three buildings go up in southwest corner of property.
2010: Wall of mud flows from site into neighboring businesses.
2010: Stop & Shop/WalMart plaza owner fights to block entrance to Litchfield Crossings; DOT approves traffic light at Danbury and Dodd roads in the fall, allowing for second driveway.
2011: Kohl's signed for plaza, HomeGoods and Big Lots follow.
2012: Panera bread signs for plaza, work stops.
2013: Zoning enforcement officer issues ultimatum; new LLC partner and contractor anticipated; Webster Bank starts new branch.

Three smaller buildings went up in 2010 on the southern end of the property. There is a hospital clinic, an AT & T mobility store and a Union Savings Bank branch there.

The 4,100-square-foot, future Panera restaurant has sat since November, boarded up with work uncompleted. Just last week, Sisca Construction removed three large pieces of equipment that sat fenced off to the south of Panera.

Mayor Pat Murphy said Aug. 16 Scalzo has spoken to her of a new investor, a new contractor and big retailers all coming onboard. A closing is expected any day on all of these, she said.

"Technically, Sisca is responsible for the maintenance at the site," Murphy said. "But they're on the way out, so it is what it is. In all fairness, there was significant financial output that came with the project.

"There have been lawsuits, holdups with getting (state Department of Transportation) approval for entrances that put it past incoming tenants' time lines," she said. "Do I think he'll get it done? Yes. Is it getting done as quickly as I would have liked? No."

Zoning enforcement officer Laura Regan has given Scalzo an ultimatum with 10 requirements to meet, including finishing landscaping.

"No further COs (certificate for occupation) will be issued until all 10 items on the list are met," Regan said last week.

With construction of a Webster Bank branch now underway at the site and new retailers waiting in the wings, it is an ultimatum Scalzo said he is taking seriously.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322