MYSTIC — The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special use permit Tuesday for the addition of a third dwelling unit and a number of architectural modifications to Bravo Bravo’s new location, which is under construction at 17-19 East Main St.
Last September, the commission approved a special use permit for a 7,500-square-foot mixed use building with a restaurant on the first floor and two units on the upper floors
Angela Kanabis, representing her mother, Carol Kanabis, who owns the restaurant, asked the commission last month to approve a number of project modifications via administrative review but withdrew the request after the the commission decided that a new permit was required.
Lawrence Stannard, the town building official, issued a cease and desist order on the upper stories because changes had been made without permits, according to a summary report prepared for the meeting.
Architect Mark A. Comeau, of Stonington, who designed the project, advocated for eight changes to the original plan, including the third dwelling unit.
“There were two large townhouse apartments with internal staircases before, which don’t meet inventory demographics,” he said. “We switched to two apartments on the second floor and one on the third floor. It’s within the building code and there is no addition to gross square footage.”
Four restaurant seats were eliminated to accommodate the parking needed for the extra apartment.
Because restaurant seating capacity is a controversial issue in Mystic, a zoning compliance will be issued for seating in the restaurant, which is checked during inspections, said Jason Vincent, director of planning.
Another change called for the elimination of a 44-foot handicapped ramp at the back of the building in favor of a wheechair lift, which does not meet town building code requirements.
Comeau said if the state rules that the project can install a lift, the decision would override the town’s code.
“There’s a form for the State of Connecticut when the site creates a condition that makes a ramp not practical,” he said, adding that the ramp would be inconveniently located near two service entrances.
Other changes included eliminating an 11-foot-tall cupola and relocating the mechanicals to the roof behind a 28-foot-long balustrade that would be about 3 feet high.
Commissioner Lynn Conway said the balustrade was two and half times wider than the cupola, creating a “much larger facade on this building.”
“Next door is a small historic building, then a one-story post office and smaller buildings all around,” she said. “Anything that is going to create a more massive facade should not be done.”
David Rathbun, chairman of the commission, said the balustrade would appear much smaller from the street.
Comeau said the overall length could possibly be shortened but the balustrade needed to look as though it was designed and not an architectural afterthought.
Other changes included eliminating a second inset window on the east facade because it looked into the adjacent building, and modifying the roofline to include full dormers on all sides
The third floor walk-out balconies were eliminated in favor of iron railings because of the building’s proximity to power lines.
“The balconies went out 3 feet and you could almost reach out and grab the power lines, which I didn’t realize until being on the site up there,” Comeau said. “Now it’s an iron railing with a 4-inch bump-out, so you can no longer walk out there.”
On the street-side of the building, special windows that roll down from the top replaced the previous design.
“These windows operate down and become the railing” so that diners don’t fall on sidewalk, Comeau said.
Bravo Bravo had been located within the Whaler’s Inn at 20 East Main St. for many years. The Kanabis family owned the property at 17-19 East Main and had planned to build there for years. When the restaurant’s lease came up in 2017, negotiations with the inn’s owner revealed that the hotel wanted to create its own full-service restaurant catering to clients and guests.
After a fire destroyed a building on the construction site in 2005, several permit approvals were granted but not carried out. A permit for a 5,500-square-foot building comprising a ground floor restaurant and two upper floor residential units was approved but not executed.
The commission approved Comeau’s changes unanimously with the stipulation that a ramp will be installed if the state doesn’t approve, and that the lift and the balustrade would be the shortest possible length.