Category Archives: Real estate

Despite What It Looks Like, Compo Acres IS Open For Business This Holiday Season

Compo Acres 1

You just have to park in the back.

Well, the waaaaay back.

Compo Acres 2

 

Open Space — For Buses?

Yesterday — as noted on WestportNow — the town’s School Bus Task Force toured Baron’s South. The town is exploring ways to save the $250,000 we spend each year leasing space from Dattco, on Post Road East across from Playhouse Square.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Thursday, December 18, 2 p.m., Town Hall Room 201), the Planning and Zoning Commission’s open space subcommittee meets. They’ll discuss rezoning certain areas of town as — you guessed it — open space.

One example: Baron’s South. Right now, Winslow Park — across the Post Road, on Compo North — is zoned as open space. But Baron’s South is considered residential.

That means the town could sell it. A housing project could be built there.

Or it could be used for bus parking.

The P&Z open space meeting is open to the public. No word on whether School Bus Task Force members will also attend.

Part of the Baron's South property.

Part of the Baron’s South property.

Saving Compo Acres’ Sycamore

Equity One has been pilloried for its excavation work behind Compo Acres Shopping Center. More trees than allowed by permit were demolished to create a level parking lot. The result: more asphalt, and less privacy for neighbors.

But around the corner, the owner is working to save one tree.

Equity One representative Michael Lai told “06880” reader and town activist Morley Boyd that the company considers a massive sycamore — located near the confusing entrances/exit on South Compo and the Post Road — to be a “defining aspect” of the property. Lai said that Equity One takes its stewardship seriously.

Wendy Crowther's before-and-after photos show the "mulch volcano" (left), and the mulch pulled back (right).

Wendy Crowther’s before-and-after photos show the “mulch volcano” (left), and a close-up of the mulch pulled back (right).

Boyd and others were concerned about  a “mulch volcano”: the tree-killing layer that was mounded against the trunk, above the natural flare at its base. It arose because untrained landscapers did not realize the tree could suffocate to death.

Equity One hired Bartlett Tree Experts to complete a thorough treatment protocol for the sycamore. It includes feeding, and careful removal of the mulch volcano. Work began over the holiday weekend.

So all is well — except for some bark damage:

Sycamore - tree damage

Turns out that Lai saw a woman install an advertising sign for a fitness center on the southern face of the tree. He asked her to leave. He did not know it, but damage had already been done.

A portion of bark spawled off. More came down over the next couple of days. Unfortunately, Lai did not get a look at the name of the business.

Fortunately, the bark should mend in time.

Now, if Equity One could only restore the iconic “paint palette” that stood for decades next to the sycamore. It’s been missing for more than a year.

The Compo Acres paint palette is gone.

The Compo Acres paint palette is gone.

 

200-Unit Apartment Proposal Galvanizes Westporters

Just 24 hours after it went online, a petition opposing the proposed 200-unit apartment complex on the site of the Westport Inn gained over 300 signatures.

Residents in the Long Lots area have formed a group: Westport United for Responsible Development.

Their petition — available at Change.org and addressed to 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — reads:

Ranger Properties, the current owner/developer of the Westport Inn at 1595 Post Road East, proposes to demolish the Inn and to replace it with a 200 unit multi-family apartment complex. The developer is using the Connecticut Affordable Housing Statute to bypass Westport’s zoning laws and build an apartment complex that would never be permitted under the existing local zoning laws.

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

A drawing of the proposed apartment complex, as seen on Change.org.

The proposed complex would contain 363,328 square feet, 5 stories (with balconies and roof amenities), and 370 parking spaces on less than 3 acres of land. This unprecedented development would rise in excess of 80 feet above an already elevated grade and tower over adjacent residential neighborhoods. The proposed project violates numerous Westport zoning laws concerning height, density, wetlands and use.

It would irreversibly alter the small town character of Westport, and would place undue burdens on schools, traffic and emergency response; resulting in significant public health and safety concerns.

The project is in the early stages of development.

And — clearly — so is opposition to it.

(To view the petition, click on change.org.) 

It Took Only 2 Minutes And 31 Seconds To Move The Kemper-Gunn House Today

At least, according to this video shot by Matthew Mandell:

Moving Day: Part 2

It took a couple of hours, but the Kemper-Gunn House finally made it across Elm Street.

Gunn 8 - JPV

The Kemper-Gunn House in mid-move…

...and, for the 1st time in 125 years, a vacant spot on the corner of Elm Street and Church Lane. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

…and, for the 1st time in 125 years, a vacant spot on the corner of Elm Street and Church Lane. (Photos/JP Vellotti)

A small part of a porch overhang was removed to clear a parking lot light pole. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

A small part of a porch overhang was removed to clear a parking lot light pole. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Kemper-Gunn house in (almost) its final location. In this view up Elm Street, it almost looks like it's been there forever.

The Kemper-Gunn house in (almost) its final location. In this view up Elm Street, it almost looks like it’s been there forever. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

At not quite 9:30 a.m., the day's work -- moving a house -- was done. In coming days, the house will be settled into its new foundation. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

At not quite 9:30 a.m., the day’s work — moving a house — was done. In coming days, the house will be settled into its new foundation. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

How Do You Move A House? Very Slowly. And Carefully.

Today is moving day in downtown Westport.

The Kemper-Gunn House is being relocated across Elm Street, from its perch on the corner of Church Lane to the Baldwin parking lot.

Curious Westporters gathered at dawn to watch the landscape-changing event. JP Vellotti was there too, snapping special photos for “06880.”

Here’s his 1st set. More will follow, when the dust — and the house — settle into their new “home,” later this morning.

The house has been lifted off its foundation. After 125 years, it's ready to be relocated.

The house has been lifted off its foundation. After 125 years, it’s ready to be relocated.

The media was there. TV crews quickly learned how to park their large vehicles in Westport.

The media was there. TV crews quickly learned how to park their large vehicles in Westport.

A small tree is suddenly discovered to be in the way.

A small tree is suddenly discovered to be in the way.

Planning & Zoning chair Chip Stephens, 1st selectman Jim Marpe, 2nd selectman Avi Kaner, and moving company representatives pause for a photo.

Planning & Zoning chair Chip Stephens, 1st selectman Jim Marpe, 2nd selectman Avi Kaner, developer David Waldman and an associate pause for a photo.

Java had free coffee, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce. Villa del Sol jumped on the bandwagon, offering free margaritas. But not until lunch!

Java had free coffee, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce. Villa del Sol jumped on the bandwagon, offering free margaritas. But not until lunch!

The Kemper-Gunn is not the only change coming to Church Lane. The old Westport Y Weeks Pavilion will soon be demolished.

Kemper-Gunn is not the only change coming to Church Lane. The old Westport Y Weeks Pavilion will soon be demolished.

This is the slowest crossing of Elm Street ever. (All photos/JP Vellotti)

This is the slowest crossing of Elm Street ever. (All photos/JP Vellotti)

A Developing Story

Ever since the Wright Street and Gorham Island buildings were erected in the 1970s — and those were quite some erections — Westport has been consumed by construction.

Even so, 2014 stands out as a landmark year.

Here are some of the developments — as in, real estate developments — that have occurred in the past few months. Or are occurring right now.

  • The Y moved into its new home. The Kemper-Gunn House is being moved across Elm Street to the parking lot, and Bedford Square will soon rise downtown.
  • The Levitt Pavilion finally completed its renovation. Nearby, plans for Jesup Green — with possibly reconfigured parking, a new Westport Arts Center and a renovated library — are in the works. And, of course, committees and commissions have been talking all year about new ideas for all of downtown.
  • Across the river, Save the Children has skedaddled. That fantastic waterfront property will be redeveloped, such as the adjacent Bartaco/National Hall buildings have been reimagined recently.
The west side of the Saugatuck River is also part of the new downtown plan. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

The west side of the Saugatuck River includes the old National Hall and the relatively new Wright Street building. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer for DowntownWestportCT.com)

  • Compo Acres Shopping Center is being renovated. The Fresh Market shopping center — and the one across the Post Road, with Dunkin’ Donuts — will get a facelift (and new tenants) soon.
  • Applications have been made for housing on the site of the Westport Inn. Across town, there are rumors of new housing on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.
  • Senior housing has been shot down on Baron’s South. But it won’t remain undisturbed forever.
  • Phase II of Saugatuck Center has been completed. Phase III — on  Railroad Place — is coming down the tracks.

That’s a lot — as in, lots of building lots.

And nearly 2 months still remain in this year.

P.S. Oh, yeah. The beach too.

 

Compo Acres Construction To Be Halted

Equity One has heard the pleas of Compo Acres Shopping Center merchants.

They’ve agreed to a new construction schedule. The parking project and sidewalks are now slated to be completed by November 15 — if possible. The holiday season will not be impacted.

While it’s not a perfect solution — renovations on 2 storefronts will continue — it’s far better than the previous plan, which would have devastated merchants during the crucial holiday season.

Who says you can’t fight City Hall corporate America?

The sidewalk in front  of Compo Acres Shopping Center may soon be finished.

The sidewalk in front of Compo Acres Shopping Center may soon be finished.

 

 

Compo Acres Renovation: The Sequel

The renovation of Compo Acres Shopping Center has been controversial for several reasons.

As noted yesterday, merchants worry that the ongoing, long-running project will run through the make-or-break holiday season.

They’re not the only ones upset. Neighbors have put up with noise and dust, as the upper back parking lot has been leveled.

The resulting one-level lot is intended to be easier for shoppers and employees — few of whom ever ventured back there.

But it’s also resulting in a loss of privacy. A number of trees were felled and shredded this week.

Compo Acres trees

It may not quite be “paving paradise” to put up a parking lot. But those trees sure were nice.