‘Vault’ nightclub set to revive long-empty downtown bank building
The club’s prospective owner received approval from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals last week to operate a bar, cafe and nightclub in a space on the building’s first floor that totals nearly 5,000 square feet.
Ariela Lopez, Contributing Photographer
The Vault, a proposed downtown nightclub, is one step closer to unlocking its doors.
The Board of Zoning Appeals approved club owner Alexandra Arpi’s request to operate a nightclub, cafe and bar in the 4,992 square-foot space inside a former bank building at the Board’s meeting on Sept. 13.
The club will occupy the first floor of the long-vacant classical revival-style former bank building at 45 Church St. At its monthly Zoom meeting, the Board permitted the club to open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursdays and 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, in compliance with Connecticut state law.
Arpi, the club’s owner, told the News that the club will likely open on Thursday nights specifically for college students and may offer promotions to students. On Friday nights, the club, Arpi said, will be open for “Latin people.” She envisions that Saturday will be reserved for private events.
“For now, I’m working hard to get all the licenses and permits and everything, so I’m still working on this project,” Arpi said.
Arpi emphasized to the News that the club would be open only to individuals over the age of 21, even during student-oriented events.
Broker John Pollard of Real Estate Advisors Ltd., who represented Arpi to the Board of Zoning Appeals, said at the meeting that the nightclub will have security to prevent underage drinking and other “nefarious operations.” He also said the club will be accessible for people with disabilities.
The club plans to offer food prepared by an outside commissary. Arpi told the News that the club has not yet determined their food provider.
At the meeting, Board member Errol Saunders ’06 expressed concern over how using the building as a nightclub “interfaces with the historical nature of the building.”
“I may have been in a nightclub once or twice, and noticed that the uses of a club are not always conducive to keeping things nice,” he said.
In response, Pollard clarified that the club does not plan to change the exterior of the building, although necessary repairs to leaks and flaking plaster inside the building are underway.
The building was constructed in the early 20th century to be the home of the Connecticut Savings Bank. Following the bank’s 1991 closure, the building was used as a Wells Fargo Bank branch location for five years. It was auctioned off to David Kuperberg, the current landlord, in October 2016 after two decades of vacancy.
The Board’s approval of The Vault’s plan to lease the bank’s ground floor follows the City Plan Commission’s rejection of a previous proposal to repurpose the bank building as a marijuana dispensary in July.
At the July meeting, the proposal for a dispensary was voted down 3-1 after encountering pushback from local residents and commissioners.
Ward 7 Alder Eli Sabin ’22, whose district includes the bank building, told the News that he had received more complaints about the proposed dispensary than the nightclub.
“I haven’t heard from too many folks in the neighborhood about [the club] yet, which I’d say is usually a sign that people aren’t too upset about it,” he said.
When the club opens, Sabin said that he will be making sure they follow noise ordinances and not negatively impact the neighborhood’s quality of life.
Arpi has almost 10 years of experience in the event space industry; she opened her first business, an event space, with her mother in 2014. Arpi told the News that she expects The Vault to be ready to open in a couple of months.
It is illegal to serve alcohol past 1 a.m. on weeknights in Connecticut.