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Dollar Tree Distribution Center Proves Massive as Building Takes Shape

As the walls of Dollar Tree's 1-million-square-foot distribution center off of Rainbow Road go up, it has become crystal clear exactly how big a 1-million-square-foot building is.

One million square feet of concrete sound large when presented as a blue print, but the materialization of such a building has changed the landscape of Windsor's Rainbow section as Dollar Tree's distribution center looks to impress in size and revenue to the town.

By comparison, Dollar Tree's distribution center is larger than some of the most-widely known buildings in the region.

When complete, the distribution center will encompass 1 million square feet (not including space needed for parking) of space and will tower roughly 40 feet tall.

Fenway Park's green monster stands just over 37 feet tall.

Rentschler Field, the football home of the UConn Huskies, comes in at just under 600,000 square feet, including the field and seats in the stadium.

What do you think of the distribution center's size? Is it bigger than you imagined?

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Catherine & Dennis October 19, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Jane's photos are good, but there is nothing that will show you just how obnoxious this building is and how wrong it is to be in a neighborhood than seeing for yourself. Everyone in Town needs to see it for themselves to judge. There is no buffer between zones, 5 ft in front of my home is a total joke. Loading docks are also on the front of the building and the 5 ft buffer with sparsely planted small trees do not screen it from residents or the street. In today's rain, there is already flooding onto Stone Road from the swimming size area that has been created near the intersection of Winterwood and Stone -more flooding to come once the parking lots are put in and there is nowhere for the water to go. The Town can spend our tax dollars, $90,000 in fact for a few to use for horseshoes, but they cannot do the right thing and give the residents who have this monstrocity in their front/side yards trees in their yards for a proper buffer to help with property values that have been destroyed, privacy (the employees will look right into my windows), noise buffer from 160 tractor trailers, diesel, lights. It is just WRONG they have not committed to planting decent sized trees for the residents. P & Z is a joke. Has there ever been a resident that has been before P & Z not required to have buffers? This is all just totally wrong and the town should right the wrongs. The State and Town gave Dollar Tree $30 million of your tax dollars -they can afford it.
Catherine & Dennis October 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
What tunnel? That is as evident as the turtle signs in the "port-o-lets" as Lally says.
Mike Wright October 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Being in the development business and based upon my experience, if you hadn't fought tooth and nail against a project that was conforming to P&Z requirements and was a key piece in the towns economic development plan, you would have gotten almost any buffer except distance you asked for, trees, fence As for the arrogance of town council members, what else do you expect in this place that is ruled by one party? And please, I've heard you guys state over and over that you just haven't been heard. Believe me, we heard you.
Catherine & Dennis October 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Being in the development business he says....what project are you looking at in Windsor? Poquonock Villiage? The Industrial land near that? The one to be built on the nuclear site? Another not known about yet? We wouldnt expect a developer to say anything else. In fact it is to the developers interest to see how P & Z and the town ignores neighborhoods and taxpayers to make your money. And "any buffer except distance" ummmm that isnt an option on this project that was shoe horned onto the site. The point of the complaints. Read P & Z -it doesnt conform
Glen Fisher October 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Conforming to P&Z, you mean the loading docks less than 150' from a resident's property line (that's still pending in court)? Conforming to no loading docks at the front of the building, and they plan to put them anyway? You mean that the Regs say a Professional Landscape Architect is to be hired for a job this big, the commission said ahh forgettabowdit? Lets not even get into the coincidence of the towns tax increase of $2.8 mill while they give DT a $2.8 mill tax break. So pardon us for being a little ticked at this going up in our front and back yards. Look at the towns FLUP map, there is an Industrial area just North of the proposed set of eight apartment buildings. I do not know if there is a buffer there, but if there isn't I guess the key is to shut up and let it happen so maybe it'll appear?
Catherine & Dennis October 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Conforming to P & Z that there be a screen that is not seen by residents or from the street? That buffer? How about the fact once operational employees can look directly into my home? This is gross negligence to be nice....again anyone else in the town not get a proper buffer? Anyone?
Mike Wright October 20, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I get that you are a bit hostile about the development across the street. I'm sure looking at an empty field out your front door for over a decade was pretty nice but then maybe you should have thought about what might happen with an owner wanting to develop his industrial property before you bought your house. The fact that your house is on the edge of an industrial zone would be enough from discouraging me from buying it. Frankly, your house value, and associated taxes, are relatively low. You pay less in taxes because of what is across the street. You do have a nice house, Dennis and Catherine. By the way, I was a lot closer to your windows by driving by in the street that the workers would be on the property. My take is that you wouldn't be happy with ANY development across the street. I did take a look at the building yesterday and frankly the berm between the building and the street line seems sufficient to screen the majority of the activity from your view. Honestly, for employees to see into your home, they would have to climb on top of the buffer that is there.
Mike Wright October 20, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Glen, P&Z regulations are written to cover the most typical conditions, housing and small commercial and industrial. This project, I don't have to tell you, is quite atypical and requires interpretation by P&Z. Professional Landscape Architects? Please. I work with them all the time and based on what I saw planted on the berm between your house and the building, you already gotten a "professional quality" planting plan. As for the tax break. Umm, the whole point of this economic development by the town is that whatever tax breaks are given over the short term are going to be recouped and then some over the long term. Do you pout that the tax breaks given to Walgreens allow them to be only our second largest taxpayer instead of the first that they will be when the breaks run out? Oh. pardon me, my bad, they will still be second because DOLLAR TREE will be first. This is going on in your front or back yard...I don't think so. If you look out your back yard, you'll be staring into the Cicero's house. Be careful, I think they are a bit sensitive to that.
Mike Wright October 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM
No, no, no and no. I'm not involved in any development in Windsor, except my own house. There is not a section in P&Z for million square foot warehouse buildings. This is why the P&Z staff has to make these determinations. I think politically, if you had been more astute, you could have recognized that this was going to get approved and spent your time arguing for more acceptable buffers. As a famous band once said "you can't always get what you want, you might find you get what you need."
Glen Fisher October 21, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Mike you cannot comment on what I see from my backyard without standing in my backyard. The Cicero house is only so big, and does a pretty good job blocking some of the building, but until they put on a second floor it only does so much for a 40' tall x 1700' long building. Also once the leaves drop I'm skrewed. Explain to me how such beautiful homes are protected from Day Hill, how was such a good job done buffering them?
Mike Wright October 21, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Lets imagine there is no building there and lets imagine a company wanted to build a warehouse on this piece of industrial property. How big of a warehouse would you residents allow and what type of buffer would be satisfactory? From the road, you see a berm with some immature evergreen plantings and a blank wall. What you see is pretty benign. Frankly, when I went out to see it, I was expecting much worse based on the hullabaloo that has been raised over this. I'm sure all the residents would prefer an empty field over what you have now, but you don't get to decide what happens on neighboring property unless you own it. Zoning regulations are put in place to prevent warehouses from being put in the middle of neighborhoods, but the reality is that you folks aren't in the middle of a neighborhood, you are at the edge of it.
Catherine & Dennis October 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Mike, as a developer surely you took into consideration you "step up" into my house and "step up" into that building -there is a height difference you do not see from sitting in your car, therefore you cannot comment on what can be seen looking out or into my windows. Going by at 30mph if you were one of the few that does the speed limit also changes what is seen. The 5ft berm was designed only for headlights of employees -review the facts. We did not get the buffer we should have. When I bought my house, not being a developer and learning way after the fact how to protect myself, I was across from agricultural. In fact they paid less for their 150 acres claiming the agricultural loop hole then I did in taxes. I have not gotten a reduction in taxes (yet) for having this across from me but surely that should be coming as the home values went down. Though I agree in hindsight that no one in their right mind ever thought in their wildest dreams something this huge would be allowed, we all did learn it was commercial/industrial and thought it would be more of the buildings that are already surrounding the area -size of Marcone/Fedex. And thank you for acknowledging that somethng of this size and nature was atypical and required interpretation. While I applaud anyone that volunteers in town this was way above any of them to make such a decision and a look at the town web site and fact they are nowchanging P & Z will likely prove that. Closing the barn door too late.
Bill Generous October 21, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Having long-term taxes exceed the short-term tax breaks is only one criteria in doling out property tax breaks. Did the company really need the $2 million as an incentive to come to Windsor? No. They would have come based on a lot of other factors including the much much larger incentives they were awarded by the State of CT. When all is said and done, Walgreens, ING, and The Hartford will all contribute a lot more than Dollar Tree to Windsor's tax base, all without changing the character of a section of town. In a town ruled by one party, foregoing 2 million in revenue is just another day in charge and won't change who is in charge (although things like that should matter).
Albert Williams October 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Mike, I'm sure those people would be satisfied if over the years Griffin loaded the first 30'-40 or heck 50' along Stone Rd with trees, heck there were enough complaints of dust storms over the years that it could have eliminated too. Take a look at Walden Woods, stand in their backyards, do you see Day Hill? No, it was planned for accordingly. Show me where it says P&Z prevents warehouses from being put in the middle of neighborhood...all I read is P&Z is ther to preserve the property values and quality of life of its residents. In hindsight, yes people bought on the edge of an Industrial Zone, but explain why was that neighborhood even developed? I'll repeat what I said before: I hope Old Poquonock Villiage falls on its face, I hope people realize there is an Industrial Zoned area right near there, it could happen to them.
Albert Williams October 22, 2012 at 05:03 PM
They have plenty of land, they're using 96 of the 150 acres. There could have been a substantial buffer. And I'm not talking expensive nursery shrubs and trees. Run of the mill wild forest type trees.
Douglas Woods October 23, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I have another idea...let's have Dollar Tree start Phase II. I've identified a suitable piece of property next to Mike's house!
Mike Wright October 23, 2012 at 01:34 AM
The Planning and Zoning Board aren't just a bunch of volunteers feeling around in the dark. They are advised by a professional staff of certified planners. The P&Z process is more of going down each and every regulation to see what applies and what doesn't. Industrial zone: 2 acre minimun -check, 180' wide frontage - check, 50' front yard - check, 35' side yard - check, 35' rear yard- check, 33 1/3% maximum coverage - check, 4 stories maximum - check, 60 feet maximum height - check, where exactly does the size of this building not comply? As for the buffer, what is required is a 50 foot planted buffer. Note it does not state solid planted buffer so under that requirement, your homes would be partially washed in headlights every time a vehicle turned around. You are much better off with the berm. No where, but no where in the regulations did I find where the entire building was to be screened from the residents. If thats what you are looking for you are not going to get it. Get it?
Mike Wright October 23, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Within a residential zone: 4.3 Permitted Uses 4.3.1 Single-Family Dwellings 4.4 Accessory Uses 4.4.1 Accessory Buildings Maximum size of an accessory building is 580 square feet in a residential zone. Not exactly warehouse material. Because the residential properties abut an industrial zone, they are zoned AA Residential which requires a half acre of property minimum, which also allows a larger house. "Why was that neighborhood even developed?" Really, you have to ask? It was developed because those houses could be sold to people that would buy them. Sorry that's not a very politically correct answer but at least it's the truth.
Mike Wright October 23, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Yep, the property owners could have built this building in the center of the property and surrounded it with a forest of dense trees on 25 foot berms, but they chose not to. Their property - their choice. As long as they comply with the letter of the zoning regs, they can do it. Again, I understand this is not the system that takes everyone's feelings into account with a democratic vote at the end of the process. Dollar Tree won't be able to complain about any improvements to your property if you comply with zoning either.
Mike Wright October 23, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I like it! Someone with a sense of humor, after all. The problem with that idea is the my house is in the CENTER of a completely developed neighborhood, in the CENTER of a residential zone and if P&Z tries to change zoning anywhere near me, that's the time to fight it. I am truly sorry that you folks didn't get a chance to fight the zone change. I assume since Culbro was a previous owner that the property was previously agricultural at some point. I think you would have an easier time fighting a zone change than a mostly conforming project.
Jane Mansur October 23, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Mike thanks for the business and P&Z lessons. Since you are a Developer I’m sure that you are aware of the other processes besides P&Z. Are you aware that the residents took ownership to make sure that the rules and regulations were followed by the Town, new land owner and contractor? Are you aware that the contractor has been issued notices of violation from the State? Sub contractors are breaking town ordinances. Also construction is taking place before and after the hours that were outline? It speaks volumes.
Catherine & Dennis October 23, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Mike is in the development business -its his bread and butter. 'Nuff said.
close by October 23, 2012 at 01:28 PM
There are two things to mention; I live close to the new building. I am concerned about the noise that will be generated as the operation at the sight start; there is a constant beeping as the trucks back up. With the loading bays our side of the building it will be a permanent noise. How will employees be stopped from using Winterwood to get to and from work, I already seen a few new cars going down the street.
Bill Generous October 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
If the town is desperate for property tax revenue, what chance do other property owners have at preventing an agriculture to industrial zone change? Don't even recall notice or posted signs when the Dollar Tree property was changing from AG to Industrial. Only last year, a development was turned down for residences at the Dollar Tree site as TPZ did not think it appropriate due to airplane traffic. There are a couple AG properties behind Dollar Tree (between Stone and International) I wish would stay agriculturally zoned.
Bill Generous October 23, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I take my dogs outside after midnight. I am surprised at the sounds I now hear regularly at that hour from this general area. While it could be Walgreen's trucks, I don't recall hearing noise at this level before Dollar Tree started construction. It mainly bothers me because I know it will likely get much worse once they are operational.
Mike Wright October 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I would say some bread and very little butter. I work for a non-profit corporation that tears down some truly awful urban public housing put up 50-60 years ago to warehouse poor folks and we redevelop the properties into medium density mixed use buildings for those same folks that are necessarily simple, but valued. It's through this work that I've become familiar with the planning processes around the country. I know you feel that the P&Z regs here in Windsor let you down, but after reading them, they are actually quite well written. The issue of size that you folks are struggling with is due to the extraordinary size of the property which is controls the maximum permitted size of the building. Again, this is Monday morning quarterbacking, but when the landowner applied for rezoning with the town, that would have been the time to insist on subdividing the property. You might have seen the same area of building on the property, but it would at least be spread out over a number of separate buildings, more akin to the buildings on Rainbow road.
Bob Wallick October 24, 2012 at 12:39 AM
This massive structure violates the Windsor Plan of Conservation and Development that was published in November of 2011. The POCD states "Improve Windsor's existing housing as well as the pattern and quality of new development to maintain housing diversity; bring housing values into balance with regional values; create more livable neighborhoods; and enhance the quality of life for all Windsor residents." I don't see how this could possibly enhance the quality of life for any Windsor residents or bring the neighboring house values into balance with regional values. The POCD also states under the heading Guide Housing and Residential Development "Eliminate Zoning Conflicts" and illustrates it with an image of this site. This is a 23 acre building...let me say this again...23 acres. How does putting up a building this size Elliminate a Zoning Conflict. Did anyone on the TPZ really think about the size or the impact on the residents? Have they seen it? Would they want it in their backyard or in their neighborhood?
Mike Wright October 24, 2012 at 12:43 AM
You raise a valid issue with your first point. That is likely to be a problem. As for keeping employees from using Winterwood, if it's a public street, i.e. the town trucks plow it in the winter, then you can't.
Catherine & Dennis October 24, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Good points Bob. And no, they wouldnt have it in their front yard, side yard or backyard -they live in the CENTER of town. That is the problem -there is no concern for those that do have to live with it because it does not affect them.Just words of wisdom that we didnt want any building there. I do not recall any of the residents here ever saying that at one single meeting. THIS building is too large for the site and does not belong on the edge of residential-even if edge means inbetween homes and with homes across a narrow RESIDENTIAL street. That is the sad fact. Any one that watches the meetings on line that brought us to this would likely have the same thoughts I have had- it would make a good comedy to sell to the networks. Just send them copies of the meetings for the script. You just can't make that stuff up. There are plenty of others that will yet be victims in Windsor and those are the ones that should learn from this debacle and speak out now. The agricultural area Bill speaks of, that is likely going to be sold for more industry. It is interesting to review who owns the residential plot that is currently land locked in that area. As for being too late to assist those in the area with a decent buffer....not true, trees could be planted more densly on either side of the street. Tax dollars after all, $90k of them, went to enhance our lives via horseshoes!
Catherine & Dennis October 24, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Another issue Mike brings up is if there is no required screening from homes as close as this structure, it would seem very hard to enforce it on anyone else in the future. ie -the limo guy that wanted to have a business on Day Hill Road -he was told he had to screen his limos from other businesses...he should not have to ....or as I suggested at the time, take his clients to weddings in tractor trailers and he would be all set.

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