The owner of the Shops of Malta is proposing two restaurants and several retail buildings along its Route 9 entrance road in the most ambitious project to date to fall under Malta’s new form-based zoning code.
The seven buildings would be located along both sides of Kendall Way, which passes vacant land for about 400 feet until drivers reach the loop road of the downtown shopping plaza, which is anchored by a Price Chopper supermarket.
The entrance, which already has a traffic light on Route 9, is potentially part of a loop to reach westbound Route 67 for people who want to avoid the busy Routes 9/67 roundabout.
The Nigro Companies of Albany, which owns Shops of Malta, is proposing a 4,100-square-foot family restaurant, a second 1,700-square-foot restaurant, a 2,500-square-foot bank, three 6,000-square-foot retail buildings and a 2,400-square-foot retail building.
No tenants have been identified, but a project narrative filed with the town says they are expected to include popular national chains.
The plans are due to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals on July 2 in applications for several area variances, and to the town Planning Board later for permits for drive-throughs at the two restaurants and the bank.
Other than that, the development can be approved by town planning department staff, under the “form-based code” now used in the downtown area.
The “form-based zoning code” adopted in February only for the downtown area is intended to encourage high-density, mixed-use development, by setting detailed building standards and then offering developers quick approvals if they meet those standards.
Malta, which is seeing a new round of growth tied to the arrival of the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant, was the first town in New York state to adopt such a code. The Shops of Malta project is the most ambitious attempt to comply so far, said town Building and Planning Director Anthony Tozzi.
The plans were going to come before the town Planning Board for a public hearing this month, but that was postponed until July so the zoning board could consider the variance requests.
“[Under the form-based code] the zoning board actually has more power than the planning board,” Tozzi said. “When you’re trying to turn a suburban development pattern into something else, you need variances to fit a square peg into a round hole.”
The Planning Board will hold a public hearing to get public input. Tozzi said, but it will then be members of the planning staff who meet with the developer about any possible changes in response to those comments. “Ultimately, it is up to the developer,” Tozzi said.