After months of inactivity, construction is expected to start within the month on the Litchfield Crossings shopping center at 169 Danbury Road along Route 7 South.

The first phase of the project will consist of three buildings in the southwest corner of the site totaling 20,000 square feet. The buildings will be roadside in line with Rite Aid and Taco Bell.

One tenant in the three-building site will be an A T & T Mobility store, which will occupy 3,500 square feet. Union Savings Bank will have a branch in a second building and other businesses are being courted to fill the rest of the retail space.

The initial plan in 2008 called for a 282,000-square-foot center at the building site next to Taco Bell on Route 7. In light of the economic downturn, the project was changed to two phases last May.

The project's developers, Paul Scalzo and Hal Kurfehs, also had to wait for a permit from the State Traffic Commission (STC) that would give them permission to encroach on a state highway.

As months went by, the cleared and undeveloped property became an eyesore in town that some people called, "The Dust Bowl."

Last month, Mr. Scalzo requested a meeting with the STC in an attempt to move the process along. New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy attended the meeting with Mr. Scalzo and acted as mediator.

"The state was very receptive," Ms. Murphy said Tuesday. "I assured the state that its expectations for development of the site and what the town was permitting were the same. I let the state know that we have high expectations for the site."

With the state hurdle cleared and clearance by the town's Zoning Commission given on Oct. 5, construction of foundations for the three buildings is expected to start within the month.

"The mayor did a great job of breaking the log jam," Mr. Kurfehs said. "We just got clearance from the state and hope to get started on phase one."

Contact Susan Tuz

at stuz@newstimes.com

or 860-355-7322.