Baywater Creating Homes for Developmentally Disabled Adults in Darien

DARIEN — Tucked in the grand plans for The Corbin District is a smaller project that developer David Genovese and his partner, Penny Glassmeyer, have created to fill what they feel is a void in the housing area.

Genovese, chief executive officer of Baywater Properties, is using an inclusionary zoning requirement to create a home for developmentally disabled adults on East Lane.

The 12-unit, two building project is part of the company’s plan for The Corbin District, a downtown development consisting of 116 apartment units along with retail and office space.

The project, approved in late 2018, is a mixed-use redevelopment spanning 7.17 acres from Corbin Drive to the Bank of America building on Post Road

The project involves demolishing all buildings within the Corbin area and building a mixed-use development with retail, restaurant, office and residential uses; creating new off-street parking and internal drives; creating new public plaza areas; and performing related site development activities within a regulated area. Work on that project is also underway.

The project, at 26 East Lane, will include two 4,500-square-foot buildings, which are expected to be completed in September, that offer affordable housing for developmentally disabled adults.

“This is a segment of the population that tends to be forgotten,” Genovese said.

He said he has friends who have children who are developmentally disabled and they struggle to find options nearby.

“They end up sending them far away from home, when it’s not really what they want to do,” Genovese said.

The only option for developmentally disabled adults in Darien are six units at The Cottage on Edgerton Street. Genovese said he’s already heard from many who are interested in the East Lane residences.

Genovese said he has selected Greenwich-based Abilis to manage the property and care for the residents. Abilis is a nonprofit organization that provides services and support for more than 700 individuals with special needs and their families. Abilis has served the special needs community in lower Fairfield County for 69 years.

“We met through a couple of friends and we were so impressed with this organization and its ‘can-do’ attitude,” Genovese said.

Amy Montimurro, chief executive officer of Abilis, said the most successful developmentally disabled young adults transition into independent living with the help of their parents.

“When it is an emergency situation, it means they are homeless or at risk for being homeless due to the loss of a parent, so they are already dealing with a stressful situation. It is most successful when they have families to help them,” she said.

Part of the Abilis program aims to get residents involved in the community.

In Greenwich, residents work at the Greenwich Library cafe and other places. Genovese said he’s already heard from community members like Espresso NEAT who are interested in having East Lane residents work at the cafe.

Genovese and Montimurro also said they hope to open a retail store in conjunction with the project to employ residents and encourage further community interaction.

“This isn’t just about housing, there’s a lot of career guidance happening in Greenwich,” Genovese said, adding residents are also working at a gardening center there that Nielsen’s Florists in Darien helped establish. Abilis offers a garden and gift link on its website.

Genovese, Moniturro and Kate Perez, of Baywater, who has also been a key contributor to the East Lane Project, hope the development creates a community partnership that will serve as a model for others.

“It’s just very positive — there’s great need for this housing,” Genovese said.

Those interested in the residences or being a community partner in Darien can email Amy Montimurro at