Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
His name is David Waldman.
The Westport developer — whose downtown properties include the Patagonia building and the YMCA — also owns the Church Lane house sitting handsomely across from the Y’s Weeks Pavilion entrance.
Handsomely, but decrepitedly.
Waldman had planned to demolish the early 1800s Federal-style home, to put up (cue Joni Mitchell) a parking lot.
But he changed his mind.
His new plan is to preserve the facade, while renovating the interior for a restaurant. The building will be moved closer to the street; there’ll be outdoor seating, and a courtyard. Office space will be available on the 2nd floor.
There may also be a pedestrian walkway, and redevelopment of the office building behind it on the Post Road.
A new restaurant in an old home — and sprucing up that small but important street — will help downtown.
Meanwhile, maintaining — actually improving — the streetscape sends a crucial message that ripples far beyond Church Lane and the Post Road.
Old buildings count. They’re worth saving. If one of Westport’s biggest builders can find a way to save an old home downtown, some of our newest homeowners ought to be able to do the same everywhere else.
(The Historic District Commission and Architectural Review Board will review Waldman’s plan this Tuesday [Dec. 7], at 7 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201.)
I believe in Santa Claus before I believe that David Waldman does anything for
anyone besides David Waldman.
I agree that it is very nice that Mr. Waldman is restoring that part of downtown, without tearing down the the Federal style home. I don’t know Mr. Waldman, but if he had decided to demolish it, I’m pretty sure that he would have built something lovely in it’s place.
However, what bothers me more is the statement – “If one of Westport’s biggest builders can find a way to save an old home downtown, some of our newest homeowners ought to be able to do the same everywhere else.”
Here’s the thing: I have noticed that people who do not OWN these properties, nor pay the taxes on them, have no problem telling the people who DO own them what they should do with them. Some want these old structures preserved no matter what – despite the high cost for the home owner. Saving these homes is a big ticket item – you don’t know what you’ll find under the surface – and one problem begets another. And frankly some old homes just aren’t worth saving. I thought that the Historical Society knew which homes in town were “truly” historical. Those homes should be preserved, but the new homeowners should be apprised of the limitations before they purchase them. (I am sure someone is more versed about the rules regarding historical homes.) But to allow someone to move to town and pay an exorbitant amount of money and then be told that tearing down their house is practically a crime is ridiculous. And, to add more fuel to the fire – some people really don’t love old houses!
In concur, Sensible One, with limitations. If Jeffxs was still around, he would argue that the homeowner should be able do anything he or she wants with their property. This would apply to Mr. Walderman’s efforts as well. Yet, he would also argue that supply and demand determines much of the direction of renovations versus new construction. Personally, I think the homes of 7,000+ square feet are a thing of the past due to the fact that, while construction costs may be within budget, the utility/maintenance of these houses and dwindling values of even new homes, do not make economic sense. I do endorse Mr. Walderman’s decision although from what I hear about the man and his relationship with former tenants, he is hardly Santa.
Why is Jeffxs being referred to in the past tense?
Also, before we give kudos to Waldman, let’s remember the historically significant properties he let meet the wrecking ball, like the Paul Randolph-designed house on 16 Minuteman Hill.
I’m sure Jeffxs would say exactly that and actually, I agree with him. But in the spirit of living with others in this community (which sometimes, isn’t easy) – I thought that if the historical society were able to legally put some limitations on these houses that some are so desperate to save, then the prospective home owner could decide if they wanted to abide by the rules or find another place to live. But what I mainly object to is people who don’t own the real estate, telling others what to do with their homes/properties – and this extends to fences, walls etc. All of us have seen the teardowns of the day and there is always someone who bemoans it and has something very negative to say about the property owner – whom they don’t even know! If these people really wanted to save these homes, my reaction is then buy it yourself and take on all the financial obligations!
david waldman has done more good for the development of this town than probably all of us put together. the guy genuinely loves westport; the landscape, the architecture, the people, etc. please think about that before you criticize his development choices.
i was totally and absolutely against the demolition of that rudolph house – i don’t think the owner had a real understanding of what he had come to own and then there came the reality of his having to defend his decision – but weigh that one demolition relative to all the fantastic, thoughtful development he has accomplished in westport and – though you can – you shouldn’t complain.
Jeffxs appears now and then but several anonymous commentators found out his true name and address. Then, published it on this blog in retaliation for his comments on global warming and a Staples student. Sensible One (as always) brings up a good point: what is the power of the Historical Society?? I have no idea. Is it an elected board or appointed by P&Z? I am sure a would-be buyer would complete due diligence, however, before they bought a piece of property and intended to tear it down. My only knowledge of Mr. Waldman are comments of a former tenant. I am not totally enamored by the new direction of the YMCA either. Perhaps he has a vision for a new downtown that I am unfamiliar but would welcome changes that enhance the Old Westport into the 21st century.
If you restrict the uses to which a property may be put; you reduce its value. To reduce the allowable uses after the fact is a taking.
Thanks Anonymous. Miss you man! The blog ain’t the same without you.
Aristotle talking to a cabbage.
Can’t get blood out of a turnip either.
I understand cabbage patch dolls are making a comeback this Christmas.
Totally agree with the Dude!!!!!!!!!
Just take a look at the ugly building 125 Main street now.