Do not read this if you are a commercial real estate owner. Or if you are prone to depression.
Especially do not read this if you are a commercial real estate owner prone to depression.
A friend recently said there were 26 vacant storefronts in downtown Westport. Despite the economy, I thought that was high. I decided to see for myself.
The good news is: He’s wrong. The bad news is: He’s not off by much.
“Downtown” is an amorphous concept, but if you consider it as Main Street and environs, here’s what I found.
Across the Post Road Bridge, near Riverside Avenue, both Little Tibet and The Stuart Collection have closed. There is a “retail/restaurant” available sign near the Inn at National Hall, while in the other direction King’s Texaco has serviced its last vehicle.
A “Prime Retail” sign sits in the window of the old library (now HSBC Bank). Katzenberg Kafe on Main Street is gone; so is the spot next to Ann Taylor and, just past always-thriving Westport Pizzeria, both the old Soup’s On and the former Clementine.
The entire odd 4-story building at 125 Main Street — a vertical mall erected after a furniture store fire 30 years ago, and which never took hold in horizontal Westport — is completely closed.
Swezey’s Jewelers — site of the best Christmas window in town — is long gone. Behind Talbot’s on Parker Harding Plaza, a sign advertises “Space Available.” A similar sign hangs in front of Cocoa Michelle (though that upscale coffee/chocolate shop thrives).
Over in Sconset Square, we’re down both a jewelry store and a cabinet/countertop maker.
The storefront next to La Villa Restaurant is vacant; across from the post office, Sang’s Tailoring is shut. A few steps west, Beautiful Faces is empty. Particularly sad is the old Town Hall, the handsome stone building next to Restoration Hardware. A bank — actually, a few banks — used to operate there. Now the only sign of life is a “Welcome to Westport” banner out front.
The rest of town fares no better. In Playhouse Square, Derma Clinic has given its final facial. Heading east, Totally Kool is totally closed. Across the street, tumbleweeds blow across the empty asphalt of both Curran Cadillac and Shaw’s — plus nearby Everything Personalized, the Kodak photo place, and a third store I can’t even recall.
There is one vacancy in the Calise’s strip mall, another where Gallerie Je Reviens used to be. Carvel will never close, but the business next to the Great American Stamp Store behind it did.
Just past Bertucci’s, Sports Collectables and another store could not make it. Retail space is available in the Crate & Barrel shopping center, and where Green’s Farms Variety used to be.
Pane Vino restaurant closed recently; the old Pepper Mill property remains undeveloped. Across from Super Stop & Shop, an empty storefront snoozes next to Sleepy’s.
Circling back toward downtown, through Saugatuck, Conte’s restaurant is vacant. So is part of Bridge Square, the poster shop on Riverside Avenue, a store across from the railroad station, and a large space next to the AAA.
What a list — talk about a buzzkill. So, to avoid starting off your week on a down note, consider a few signs of life:
Crumbs Bakery will soon dispense scrumptious cupcakes (for dessert after dinner at nearby Matsu Sushi?). Joe Arcudi’s square pizza returns to its old stomping ground. A flotation therapy spa opens in May downtown.
Or take an even broader view: With all that empty space, now’s the perfect time to make your move.