Downtown Redevelopment: The Drama Heats Up

David Waldman — a Westport native, and president of David Adam Realty — sent this email to “friends and colleagues.”

The subject line read“HELP – Please forward to anyone and eveyone you think supports our proposed zone chnage and future development and would be willing to participate – THANK YOU”

In it, Waldman outlines his proposals for a zoning change for 35 Church Lane (next to the Y); his vision for other nearby properties, and his thoughts on current and potential Planning and Zoning Commission members.

“06880′”s previous post on 35 Church Lane drew 95 comments.  This one might surpass that.

Friends and Colleagues,

I am sending this email with the hope that you will consider sending a letter to the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, similar in nature to the sample letters attached.  I have attached two versions, one for local landlords or business owners and one for residents (if you are not a resident I apologize but hope you will consider passing this on to your friends who live in Westport who would supportive of our zone change and future project).  Please feel free to modify this sample letter so it reflects your views (with the hope that those views are still supportive of our proposal).  We would also welcome personal supportive letters to the editors of the local papers prior to the meeting on the 20th.

Next week, on Thursday, October 20th, the partners of Bedford Square, of which I am one, are going in front of the board to seek approval to change the current zoning on 35 Church Lane from RORD to BCD.  Our partnership purchased the property in late 2010 with the hopes of combining it with our redevelopment of the YMCA.

35 Church Lane

The re-zoning is just the first step which would allow us to create a more vibrant project for the downtown area.  Assuming we are successful with the zone change, and subsequent public meetings to follow, the proposed project could have over 100 underground onsite parking spaces, 35+ residential units, substantial public space, courtyards, outdoor dining, pathways and connections from Elm Street, Church Lane and Main Street, as well as additional small shop retail, restaurant and office space moving down Church Lane and rounding the corner at Elm Street.

As part of the development team and a resident of Westport for over 40 years, I, as well as my partners, care deeply about the character of our town and its overall success.  We are well versed with how adaptive re-use and preservation can be achieved and complemented as well as the principals of smart growth and sustainability.

I am currently working on the restoration of 101-107 Post Road East (soon to be the new home of Urban Outfitters) as well as the restoration of 26-28 Church Lane (soon to be the home of a new restaurant owned and operated by the operators of the Grey Goose).  I was also involved with the restoration of 87 Post Road East (home to Patagonia and recipient of both local and federal preservation awards).  I was part of the development team which repurposed 125 Main Street(home to the new Gap and Brooks Brothers Women) and continue to work hard to make Downtown Westport a better, more vibrant and active place.

Work proceeds on the new Grey Goose restaurant on Church Lane, across from the Y.

I realize that many of you may have questions before you decide to send in a letter supporting our zone change and I would be happy to answer any of those questions either in person, by email or by phone.  If you are willing to send in a letter, please make sure it gets to Mr. Corwin before the meeting on the 20th.

Also, and equally as important, there is an upcoming election for the Planning and Zoning Commission which will help shape the future of the downtown area.  Three members of the current commission are stepping down opening up the opportunity for their seats to be occupied by potentially “obstructionist” members who do not understand change nor want it to occur.

In particular, Jack Whittle and Chip Stephens are these type of people.  If elected, they could impede the positive momentum our current commission has set in place.  They want the commission to remain a reactive body instead of a proactive body.

The other candidates, Jennifer Johnson, Catherine A. Walsh and Al Gratix are all reasonable, intelligent candidates who understand smart growth and want to create a successful, vibrant downtown.  For all those interested, there is a debate on Monday the 17th at town hall between all the candidates.  I believe this debate will be televised on Chanel 79.

Patagonia anchors the area of downtown embroiled in debate.

I implore you to get the word out about the candidates who should and deserve to fill the soon to be vacated seats on the P&Z.  In particular, Jennifer Johnson has a long and solid background in planning and, like Catherine and Al they want to see positive change in the downtown area.  They want to see our riverfront opened up to the public, they want to see vibrancy, an additional tax base to lessen the blow on residents.  They deserve your vote but need your help in ensure they can win.

Thank you again for your consideration.  Our project, like all the projects me and my partners have been involved with, will be of the highest quality in terms of material, diversity and sustainability and hopefully something all residents and visitors of Westpoer will be proud to have in the Downtown area.


David A. Waldman
David Adam Realty, Inc
Suite 200
Westport CT 06880
203-221-8148 ext 220 (office)
203-856-9674 (cell)

85 responses to “Downtown Redevelopment: The Drama Heats Up

  1. “these type of people”.

  2. Another proposal from a monster! Revitalize? More like destroy! Concern and caring for the town? Sounds like another way for a soul less developer to make money and destroy the beauty and history of the town. Caring reasonable people like Jack Whittle SHOULD be on the P&Z-they have integrity,no hidden agenda and care to preserve our town. This zoning proposal needs to be stopped,so that other self serving individuals like Dave Waldman realize we won’t let our town be destroyed by GREED!!!

    • Adrian Bowles

      Monster? Hidden agendas? I wish all the Anonymous folks would at least take the time to come up with a pseudonym so that we can figure out who believes what. With a dozen or more people using the same “name” practically all the agendas are hidden.

      FWIW, I have never met Mr Waldman, and my interaction with Mr Corwin has been limited to speaking before the P&Z and listening to many of their meetings regarding the YMCA. I have no reason to think that Mr Waldman’s approach to his work is “monstrous”, and although I’m not crazy about some of his decisions (I liked the old 125 Main St better than the new one – I built a company there once, and it had “character”) I do believe him when he says that he tries to be a good steward for Westport. We won’t all agree on anything, but that’s no reason to demonize him.

      Mr Corwin seems to be quite a polarizing figure, but I was impressed by how he handled those proceedings. We don’t need to rehash those here, but I will just note that I never saw him escalate the hostility, which was often in evidence from both the audience and from members of the P&Z.

  3. Devlopers = GREED!!

  4. I’ve always assumed that when Ron Corwin talked about people making donations to him in order to get things done, this was who he meant.

    Whatever happened with the filing a false police report charge against Mr. Waldman?

    It doesn’t show a whole lot of smarts to both ask citizens for support of a project before P&Z and campaign for/against P&Z candidates in the same letter, does it?

  5. “They want the commission to remain a reactive body instead of a proactive body.”

    Yes. This, please!

    • Yes, I much prefer a reactive body than this “pro-active” one that has been so easily misled and manipulated by developers. Watching them go up against developers like Mr. Waldman is like watching a little league team going up against the NY Yankees (or Red Sox.)

  6. Any developer who expects a zoning change to be enacted in order to make his project economically viable should be well aware that he is taking a risk on the outcome of a political process that has as its primary purpose the distribution economic rewards. It makes sense for the developer to try and influence the process just as those who went before have. Zoning regulations are takings; some are rewarded and some are diminished. Let’s not pretend that there is a cause greater than the economic interests of the various parties.

  7. David Loffredo

    From the Town’s website:

    The Department’s mission is:

    – to enhance the orderly development of the town
    – to maintain the quality of the residential neighborhoods and business districts
    – enforcing regulations that protect the town from over-development

    This is accomplished with a service-oriented staff that provides active and consistent enforcement in a fair and equitable manner in order to maintain property values.

    Someone might want to remind King Corwin before he waves this project thru. Unless you don’t view 35+ residential units, 100 underground parking spaces (70 of which would have to be set aside for the residential units by the way), and everything this brings with it as “over-development”.

  8. Ok, first off, it helps if you go back and read the post on 35 Church Lane and the accompanying 96 comments! David Waldman can do what he wants with the house he bought on Minuteman Hill, if the previous owner (holocaust survivor or not, why does that figure here?) did not protect it with historical preservation. However, David, you (or anyone else who bought it) could have done that too. The way you tell the story David, its as if Dr. Michaels, was the ONLY one who could have done it. Once you were the owner, you could have too. I am not saying you ought to have done. It was decent of you to offer it to any groups or person wishing to preserve Rudolph’s legacy at your purchase price (which was clearly high b/c of the location, not the esteemed architectural provenance). However, David, it is disingenuous for you to assert that Dr. Michaels was the ONLY one who could put it up for preservation. That’s not true or real.

    OK, so now that that is out of the way. What is going on here? Someone forwarded me this e-mail yesterday. Kudos, awesome, on the re-dos going on on Church Lane to date. The new GAP, etc. different story. its OK. I mean if you like tall glass buildings in downtown Westport. I don’t. Its better than its was (with its wooden clad 70’s feel) BUT most seem NOT to want MORE tall buildings. Seems like we have learned a lesson on that around here. Back to Church Lane, I think its great (and appropriate) that the developers (Waldman) of those old buildings are re-using, re-purposing and saving that aesthetic. Its the best kind of development in a town like Westport…service our modern needs and keep the look, feel, strength, character of our vintage past. I am NOT talking Disney here. Re-uisng vintage buildings is simply marvelous and I think all must agree the current re-do on Church Lane is awesome! There’s a market for that. HOWEVER what is troubling to me and this is now the 2nd time in as many months that we have a tempest in a teapot with David Waldman at the center. Going to the P & Z and basically trying to see if “we are on the right track” and if not can we get a text amendment to facilitate either changing the track or basically give us enough options to do what we want, more or less, in the end anyway…DAVID WALDMAN! P&Z! People feel like you are not being true. Is it 5, 3 or 2 stories? Same with the cinema. Poor Sandy Lefkowitz. She and the Westport Cinema Initiative couldn’t get away fast enough from what you were going for and the seeming mixed messages it was sending by developer and commission, together! IMHO, you need to clean it up. For my FELLOW WESTPORTERS: Bill’s Smoke Shop (Williams-Sonoma) isn’t coming back. Downtown needs to revitalize. Its not about sticking in the past. It is about blending past and future. I don’t think its tall buildings, I do think its an organized approach and a P&Z that doesn’t re-write everything up front to allow for what a developer MIGHT want to do. Let Waldman (or others) come to the P&Z with their plans. NOT, are we on the right track? How about working within what has been established already re the regs? David, I think folks think you may want to tear down 35 Church Lane and then make one large, corner building, hook it up to the old firehouse, YMCA, pop 100 parking places underneath (yikes 35 apartments?????, where do they park?) and poof, gone is the leafy, quiet, business/historic blend quality that the P&Z and the HDC established in their regs. Man, you have got to be consistent if you want to be trusted. Even someone who likes some of what you have done is irritated by your approach and inconsistent message and this e-mail is simply ridiculous. Tail (developers) are wagging the dog (us, the town, our P&Z). P&Z CANDIDATES…I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on development of this very location. Because our downtown needs a plan. We need to find a way to work together, honestly. Trust is just so huge but once its gone….good luck getting it back. Remember, for developers, this is all a business. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, well and honestly. It happens all the time! Some kind of leadership from way up top would just be so key….but no one seems to be home right now……..I will be thinking long and hard about who to vote for on 11/8 for the P&Z.

    • “Even someone who likes some of what you have done is irritated by your approach and inconsistent message and this e-mail is simply ridiculous.”

  9. Who can be trusted to develop a plan for downtown? Plans are great as a concept; in reality they are rewards.

  10. His bad grammar speaks volumes.

  11. Can't Drive 55

    When the Y is gone, I ain’t ever going downtown again anyhow. GAF as we used to say in the Navy.

  12. I totally applaud Davids efforts here, & anonymously thank him for his accomplishments; none of which can be easy with these sorts of ankle-biting criticisms that come from what looks like nervous, backward thinking, non-progressive hand-wringers.

  13. You want to know where the P and Z candidates stand?
    Monday (tomorrow) starting at 7, the LWV is sponsoring the P and Z and BoF debates at town hall and it will be televised on cable.

  14. Backward thinking, nervous, non-progressive hand-wringers? Really? Is it that black and white? More like trying to see if things can develop and move forward and modernize properly. I don’t like feeling like the developer and the P&Z are in collusion (but I support development, don’t get me wrong and I like some of Waldman’s projects, i.e. current work on Church Lane). I want to see what he’d do under current regs and then I’d like to see the P&Z respond and have it go like that. Not open ended text amendments which give him (or any developer) perhaps too much latitude.

  15. That sounds reasonable. I’m sure he looks forward to that format of debate. Waldman truly enjoys working with everyone to get to the most ‘win-win’ result; what’s more, he loves this town. You can go back & forth on his choice of architectural styles, but that his intentions are to invest in ways that improve Westport are unarguable.

  16. Thank you, thank you David Waldman !!! By telling us who you endorse for P&Z in the up coming election, we all know now who NOT TO VOTE FOR !!! I didn’t think you had it in you but you just performed a public service. Thanks again.

  17. You didn’t think he had it in him to be straight-forward? This guy always makes himself available. Not agreeing with his aesthetic tastes is 1 thing, but don’t label him unjustly.

  18. Say what you will, but our downtown is dead, and we need restaurants and apartments to make it a vital part of our community. Kudos to any developer who wants to make this happen and preserve the integrity of our town. And, I also think that underground parking spots make a great deal of sense compared to the open wound of the Baldwin parking lot– a concrete eyesore that would be better served by a building project that puts people, stores and commerce above ground and parking below ground. And, to those who don’t like developers, who else is going to make our downtown a vibrant place to visit? Our town government? The key is sustainable development that serves the broader community interest in the 21st century. Otherwise, downtown will continue to be a shopping mall for everyone but Westporters.

    BTW, Jennifer Johnson is a truly outstanding candidate who deserves our support. She is thoughtful, balanced and undestands planning.

  19. So let me get this straight. Ron Corwin has pretty much stated that he works for David Waldman, since he facilitated in Ron being elected. This is the same David Waldman who broke into his tenants place of business in order to evict them? The same David Waldman who tore down a house before the historical society could have there say? The same David waldman who raised the rent on Cafe Christina so they could no longer stay in business in the downtown area? Do we truly believe that David Waldman has the best interest of the town of Westport at heart? David cares about David, plain and simple. I have a great idea, lets make David more money on the backs of the Westport taxpayer. Wake up Westport, and smell the coffee.

    When zoning did away with the 1500 foot rule regarding restaurants and liquor licenses, they never mentioned any of these changes. They simply pointed out all of the spaces were a restaurant could be located. Never did Mr. Bradley mention the spaces on the far side of the river. So now we have 5 new restaurants coming in to town with no parking regulations. Again wake up Westport, because if you don’t you’re going to see a dramatic change in this town, and in my opinion not for the better.

  20. Yes, we do believe that David Waldman has the best interests of Westport at heart. David isn’t simply another developer, David is a real Westporter. .Westport is lucky to have a developer with as much of a long term vested interest in this town as Waldman does. His dedication to the town makes all the difference.

    I hope that going forward David’s efforts are debated only with more of the “I want to see what he’d do under current regs and then I’d like to see the P&Z respond and have it go like that. Not open ended text amendments which give him (or any developer) perhaps too much latitude.” critiques than the other more ill-willed and unproductive comments that make up the majority of the above.

  21. Mr. Waldman,
    While Mr. Corwin may be very happy to get letters directly from you and that may be how you communicate with him regarding your zoning desires, you should not be telling people that want to write a letter to make sure it “gets to Mr. Corwin before the meeting on the 20th.” That is not how us mere mortals are supposed to communicate with the P&Z. They are supposed to send letters to the P&Z commission through the P&Z office in town hall.

    That one sentence speaks volumes.

  22. Don’t suggest Waldman encouraged anything other than what he said.

    …make sure it “gets to Mr. Corwin before the meeting on the 20th.”
    means nothing more than that they get it to Mr. Corwin before the 20th, i.e., exactly Waldman wrote, “If you are willing to send in a letter, please make sure it gets to Mr. Corwin before the meeting on the 20th.”

    He wasn’t telling anyone how Mr. Corwin should receive the letter. Whether directly from the letter writer, from the writer thorugh the P&Z Office, etc.. You, Mr. McCarthy, interpreted his sentence through your own filter; don’t suggest Waldman encouraged anything other than what he said. Maligninig anyone’s words the way you are is malicious.

  23. My name is not important. I feel like it might eclipse the discussion/debate.
    What’s important is that if you insist on striking out at David Waldman, that you do so in a productive way that isn’t beneath the potential productivity of the actual discussion/debate.

  24. David,
    I got shot at so you could shoot your mouth off.
    Please don’t tell me who to vote for.

    • The Dude Abides

      Amen, bro.

      • Part of shooting your mouth off is the right to endorse a candidate, don’t you think? I don’t pay much heed to endorsements, how about you?

        • Endorse, sure. Trash, no. Especially in a small town election. He went way over the “endorse” line.
          Pay heed? Sometimes… if I respect the endorser and don’t know the candidates. As well as the reversal… if I don’t respect the endorser. Most endorsements are thinly veiled political baloney, a few are genuine.

  25. Money and Politics…..can’t live with it or without it! Hold your opinions on the candidates until election day. Listen to their directions for Westport. Westport is not broken and does not require a repair. As each store becomes vacant new ones take its place. We do not have a ghost town. Elected officials on P&Z and alike do this work for the way they see the future. To knock the candidates is unfair. They love our town and will work very hard to keep it as is and yes to polish it when necessary.

  26. I wonder if in fact the person responding to Mr. McCarthy is either David himself or someone related to him, or Mr. Corwin. I doubt that there is anyone else out there that knows David, that would stand up for the man.

  27. Lived here 6 years longer than this Waldman tool.

    I hope this seals votes for Jack and Chip from all your readers.
    Pulling the “resident of Westport for 40 years and care about retaining it’s character” is the HUGEST, HOTTEST PILE OF HORSE SHIT I have ever read on your page. David Waldman cares only about lining his own pockets. It’s evident.

    Save Westport, Vote in Jack and Chip. We need just their kind of “obstructionist” behavior to save our town from becoming White Plains or Norwalk.

  28. Lived here 6 years longer than this Waldman tool.

    Oh, and let me also mention, to those who are giving kudos to David Waldman on the construction of what will be the new Grey Goose- just wait. Just wait. My mother lives in Southport near the Grey Goose and her car has been hit twice by drunk drivers. Church Lane is a narrow road. Grey Goose bartenders are perhaps a little overly generous with their pours- and though this may please a certain crowd, it won’t work on Church Street when its character is destroyed by vomit in the driveway.

  29. The project with the link above could not be the Bedford Square Project
    The one that shows in fornt of the historic comission in 2009 clearly shows preserving the Colin Gunn Victorian, hmmmmmmm ….

  30. It’s all smoke and mirrors, all smoke and mirrors. Hey what shell is the pea under. David is running a shell game and the chances that we guess right are small. Remember to get out and vote .

  31. VOTE in Nov! Change the P&Z and the Board of Ed also!

  32. The project shown in the Westport Now photo link is indeed David Waldman’s proposal for Bedford Square (the current YMCA building.) But the text amendments for Bedford Square are not what’s on the table this week. (Though coming soon.)

    It is the Victorian house (on Church St.) and the boxy dentist’s office building (facing Elm St.) in the architect’s model next to Bedford Square (shown in white – essentially behind the Y) which are the properties Mr. Waldman wants to tear down and build larger, fancier and with new uses the current zoning does not allow. These are the subject of Text Amendment #639. The site visit is Tuesday, Oct. 18th at 8:15 a.m., so you can hear firsthand from Mr. Waldman what he is proposing. The P&Z HEARING for TA #639 is scheduled for Oct. 20th at 7:00 p.m.

    So be there or be square – and speak your mind on this latest downtown development!

    And if you care about these issues and want to take back the P&Z Commission from colluding with developers, be sure to vote the Save Westport Now ticket for Whittle, Stephens, Walsh and Gratrix!
    Because that’s the only way to change what’s going on here.

    • david waldman

      There are no smoke and mirrors or shell games going on. Ms. Ancel is correct, the project shown on the Westport Now link was our original Bedford Square project and the reason it did not include the 35 Elm Street property at that time we did not own the Elm Street property. We purchased the Elm Street propert in 2010. Amy is also correct in that since we now own the Elm Street property we want to remove the existing structures and replace them with a unified project starting from the restored Bedford Mansion and Fire House and running down Church Lane with small street retail spaces and restaurants, wider tree lined sidewalk and public amenities, connections, courtyards etc. The “larger and fancier building Ms. Ancel is referencing is in fact also true. By combining the properties, we would, under the proposed BCD zone, be able to build an additional 10,000 s/f making the current Elm Street property 19,500 s/f instead of 9,500 s/f, which exists today. The “new uses current zoning does not allow” is a little misleading but correct in the sense that, of the 19,500 s/f, 75% of that space would have to be residential, which is currently NOT permitted in the this RORD zone leaving the remaining space available for retail and other commercial uses, which are allowed. What she forgets to mention and what we feel is one of the many benefits of combining the Elm Street site to the current YMCA site, is that we would be able to achieve an underground 100+ car parking lot on the site, which since it would be underground, would in no way detract from the charm and character of the current area.

      Again, the BCD zone change, if approved, would only allow us ONLY 3 stories or 35 feet, well below the current 58′ that sits on the neighboring YMCA site and also below the 52′ of the Patagonia building and 45′ of the Urban Outfitters building.

      • Wendy Crowther

        To quote Mr. Waldman, “…we want to remove the existing structures…” That’s “pretty-speak” for demolish. It’s likely that the only place it’s getting “removed to” is the dump.

        Mr. Waldman also refers to restoring “the Bedford Mansion.” The YMCA building was never Mr. E.T. Bedford’s “mansion.” He built it specifically to be a YMCA. Bedford had his own fantastic mansion down in Green’s Farms.

        Both statements make me worried about Mr. Waldman’s historic sensitivity and true intentions.

  33. My problem with developers is that when they can’t get the rent they want they ask for a zoning change. Empty spaces could easily be filled by pricing at going market rates.

    Instead, P&Z is asked to re-zone, which (practically speaking) just redistributes wealth (that the open market wouldn’t otherwise have allocated) to the developers. Practically speaking, neighborhoods are asked to sacrifice because of the bad decisions of some developers and some property owners.

    When the debate was going on about the (former) Inn at National Hall building, a former RTM colleague said to me “well, it’s better than having it sit empty,” to which I replied “why don’t they lower the rent?” I’ve yet to hear a good answer to that one.

    Developers can afford to speculate and purchase properties in the hopes of rezoning, something that the average person can’t do. They are interested in maximizing property value (a not unreasonable aim), but they couldn’t care less about other neighborhood property values nor about how a property is currently zoned, except to the degree that the efforts required to get a zoning change do cost money. But if those efforts cost less than the potential differential in property value, current zoning regs be damned!

    Until we acknowledge this aspect of developer behavior, we are just kidding ourselves. The problem that Town faces is that Corwin & Co. are plainly pro-developer (presumably that’s who “donated to get things done,” right?), rather than honest arbiters who, once in a while, will have the courage to ask (as it were) “why not just lower the rent?” It’s not a “taking” to say that a property can only be used under the regulations by which it is zoned.

    Should this go through? The hell if I know. But the burden should be on the one seeking the change, not those in a neighborhood who bought their property based on assumptions of area zoning.

  34. We didn’t have these problems when the Gault family redesigned their Saugatuck property because they were completely transparent. There were no hidden agendas, unlike this project. If it smells like a rat, it probably is.

    • Its because the Gault family has been here for generations and tries to do things with the support of the surrounding residents. Dave would call me up every day they were doing demo to go and watch, even though he didn’t know me from Adam, because he knew I lived right across the river and worked from home, and enjoyed watching the changes.

  35. I thought this was about Church Lane. How did we get to Elm St?

  36. The development that David Waldman is proposing is on the corner of Church Lane and Elm St, so consider it one and the same. (Access to the underground parking is on Elm St.) This zoning change is essentially an extension of the Bedford Square (old YMCA) project with residential housing, retail and restaurants. So the entire Bedford Square project would run from the corner of Main Street, down and around Church Lane and up Elm St to where that Reach Design store is.

    I want to urge everyone to watch the Bedford Square pre-application for the zoning change on the town website. Go the home page and the “Government” tab, then to “Watch Town Meetings”, and scroll down to Planning & Zoning Commission July 14, 2010 (the first video for that date.) You can fast forward through the intro and through Larry Weisman’s pre-application request for yet ANOTHER zone change at Geiger’s Nursery. (Watch it if you want to be horrified at Ron Corwin’s eagerness to “sculpt the text amendments to fit the developer’s project” and then pat himself on the back that “this is how the pre-app process is supposed to work!” It’s worth the time so you’ll know what Mr. Corwin’s P&Z is really up to.)

    After Larry Weisman’s pre-app comes David Waldman’s. You’ll be able to see scale drawings and the layout on Church & Elm. You’ll also learn that after the zoning change, they will be requesting a number of additional text amendments for this project, including the ability to make the new Bedford Square building 5 stories high. So there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle that aren’t being discussed with TA #639, but will be coming soon.

    But even more interesting than Mr. Waldman’s request are Ron Corwin’s and Howard Lathrop’s responses. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but Mr. Lathrop (an architect) believes that 5 and 6 story builidings are the “correct size” for a downtown area, and since the other dummies on the commission “aren’t versed in urban planning, they wouldn’t know that.” (I didn’t know that Westport was urban, did you? Suburban, maybe – but urban??? Stamford is urban.) So Mr. Lathrop had no problem whatsover with the zone change, text amendments or anything else about the Bedford Square project. Give ’em what they want! Mr. Corwin, of course, concurred since he wants to see greater density and intensity in downtown Westport, and Bedford Square is right on the money to meet with his “vision.” (The other zoners were concerned that this develoment is too large and overscaled.)

    It’s a great education, because you have to know what you’re talking about in order to be taken seriously. So watch the video and then come to the P&Z hearing on Thursday to speak your peace. And then you’ll also know why you need to vote for all 4 of the GOP/Save Westort Now candidates for P&Z. I rest my case.

    • Thank you Amy.

      Although I do believe something needs to be done to make downtown better than it is, however letting a developer write his own plan while the head of P&Z eagerly looks on is not the way to go.

      I also resent Mr. Waldman’s characterization of Mr. Wittle & Mr. Stephens as ‘obstructionist’. He’s aware of the negative connotation it has these days and I especially take offense to it considering how unfairly it has been applied to fiscal conservatives.

      I think all the people of Westport should have an equal say in what happens to our town and that INCLUDES downtown. Just because the developers bought properties and have grand plans does not give them more power or a greater say than anyone of us.

      If they speculated and bought properties in hopes of getting this or that and then find out later they can’t, well… hence the term speculating. There should be no guarantees or special favors just because they are financially invested, nor should they alter our town in a radically different way than it is; five and six story buildings will do that.

      A thought out plan that reflects the essence of Westport is what we should be striving for and that doesn’t mean ‘being stuck in the past’, but capturing what makes Westport wonderful.

      I do hope Mr. Waldman makes downtown better, if not great, but it should be done thoughtfully and fairly with what’s best for Westport and not just Mr. Waldman.

      Now let’s focus our energies on stopping Joseloff’s Senior Center!

    • And this, dear neighbors, is why you should support Amy in district 3.

  37. Yawn.

  38. Westport, soon to = Beverly Hills East, minus the blue flocked Holiday Trees

  39. I find it interesting that P&Z won’t let swingsets stay even partially in a 50′ setback in a homeowner’s yard yet they are willing to make multiple text amendments for a developer.

    • Not even willing, but eager, to let the developer basically write his own amendment. Which is zoning-talk for legislation. So this is not too far away from letting Ford and GM write auto-safety legislation and MPG standards. This stuff isn’t just happening in Washington, we have it right here in our little burb.

  40. The Dude Abides

    You know, Mr. Waldman, I thought you were crazy with that renovation for the restaurant – – – moving it four feet or whatever and all – – – but it is looking pretty good today when I went past. Vast improvement over what it was. Thanks.

    • Check! (?) the comments here reflect the commercial property owners of our town, but we ain’t just about property. Are we?

      • Really? What are we about? Be specific? Based on the comments posted here, it is all about property, but maybe you can enlighten us.

        • The Dude Abides

          I know you are playing devil’s advocate, Anon, but perhaps pride in our town may enter into some resident’s minds. Maybe they would like an unconjested area where they can readily find a parking spot and leisurely waltz around downtown finding unique shops and restaurants. That may only be available by the head to head battle between the property capitalists of today but many, I think, would like to bypass the rhetorical battle.

          • Nahh, the rhetoric is the best part. I rarely go downtown, but I do love me some good old Westport controversy.

          • If you live in Westport, it is highly likely that you own property, so we are about property to some extent, and if you own property you are a capitalist. I find the willingness of some to advance their “vision” at the expense of others troublesome. Moreover, if you examine the outcomes championed by various interest groups it is hard to see why one should be favored over any other. Certainly, there is no reason to vilify those who hold a vision different from your own whether they be commercial property owners or not. The call for a “plan” for Westport reflects, in my opinion, a disregard for the consequences wrought by such plans in the past (a $10,000,000 dog toilet comes to mind). An unconjested downtown might be a fine outcome unless you are a store owner trying to stay afloat. On the other hand we should keep in mind Yogi’s observation “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” I think preferences reveal themselves through a market mechanism over time. Downtown is the way it is because the market supports the current configuration.

            • The Dude Abides

              I am not sure that owning property makes you a capitalist? I concur on Winslow. It is a terrible waste of a beautiful piece of land. Parking can be centralized whereby streets are free to roam. This is my view of unconjested instead of the constant battle now to find a spot but hardly advocates decreased demand on the goods of merchants. Yogi also said that one should attend funerals because “if you don’t, they won’t come to yours.”

              • A house is capital; homeowners are capitalists. In theory, the value of a house shouldn be equal to the present value of the stream of imputed rents; you are a landlord. When his wife asked him where he wanted to be buried Yogi responded “Surprise me.” I see your point on the parking and conjestion issues, but where do you find the space?

                • The Dude Subsides

                  Build a three story garage back of Brooks Brothers near the Episcopal Church. Ban parking north of the Post Road, including Main Street, and let people wander aimlessly. Maybe some street vendors or carriage rides might make a buck? My present stream of rents in Vermont is suffering from an enlarged prostrate. Trying to cram down tax appraisals via a Chapter 11 on one B&B. Damn welfare state up there. Yogi also said: “To get to my house, at the fork in the road, go either way.” Turns out you could . . .

            • The residents of Westport should not have to subsidize Mr. Waldmans capitalist adventure by re-writing the zoning codes. Codes that were in place when he purchased the property and helped to determine its value.

              Downtown Westport is not a problem that needs to be fixed. It’s doing just fine.

    • Maybe I’m just a skeptic (or maybe I’ve just seen too much), but I always thought that was just some small gesture to curry favor with local groups that may have opposed him on any future project downtown.
      It was his way of getting them on board after they hail him as a preservationist to historic landmarks, yada, yada, yada…

      Come on Dude! that didn’t occur to you? Are you getting soft on me?

      • The Dude Abides

        JR: I go to the Y every day. The new structure looks good. Helleva better than that ole contaminated house. I can see Church Street being sort of a mini-mall area. Hey, I have been associated with this town since ’53. Much of it looks the damn same. Time for change. The players come and go. Downhill since Herb Baldwin in my mind.

        • Church Lane was great in the 60’s. After choir rehearsal on Saturdays, a nice walk down to the YMCA and then after activities there, off to the kiddies matinee at the Fine Arts Theater.

          Then in the mid 60’s there was a building on Church Lane where an office hosted other church youth groups and anti-war protest meetings.

      • The Dude soft? He is running the NYC marathon in two weeks. I just make him happier at home now.

        • Alright tough guy, so you work out everyday, good for you, however I wasn’t commenting on whether or not the building looks good or whether it’s an improvement over the before. I’m sure it is.
          My comment was questioning the sincerity of Mr. Waldman’s new appreciation for historic landmarks and whether it was all a ruse to get some local groups on board before he levels the place (so to speak).

          The Dude running the NYC marathon? There are better ways to demonstrate your feats of strength! All the best to you!

          • The Dude Abides

            Thanks JR. #17 for me. I am sure Mr. Waldman’s admitted motive (see above) is money and clever enough to find ways to make more. Personally I find all the historic landmark obsession rather sophomoric but I guess it is the name of the game in this town. Our good friend from the past (Anon) would say the free market creates the change and knights its leaders. Whether it be a Waldman ruse or not, I do believe he is right this time.

            • I’d like to make 3 points:

              1) 35 Church Lane is not an untouched Victorian gem. It’s already been bastardized. Protecting every building with varying ranges of historical significance is counterproductive to advancement as a culture. I am a member of the National Trust for HP and appreciate the past. I would like to see efforts made to protect 35 Church Lane, but also welcome new ideas for creating a 21st century town that incorporates the old with the new….hopefully the new is better than the old, especially with constructive town activists involved in the design approval process. While some of you are blatantly anti-“revitalization” and utlimately desire to be obstructionists, there are many people who want to see new beautiful buildings that make downtown more attractive, vibrant, useful, walk-able, and healthy rather than a dilapidated, useless, dinosaur of questionable historical significance and antiquated energy/code compliance.

              2) While it seems David Waldman is out to make some money, he is also no robber baron. Many other people will share in the new jobs created and the people of Westport will be blessed with new restaurants, buildings built to modern energy/fire/ADA code and town planning, and maybe even a new gem to walk past. Complaints about Patrons vomiting on Church Lane after a night in the new Grey Goose are unwarranted. I’ve rarely witnessed Westporters vomiting after a night at BobbyQs or Tavern. Whoever brought that up reminds me of the Dry’s as witnessed in the new Ken Burns, Prohibition. I digress…

              3) Comparisons of this house to 60 Jesup Road (and other properties past and present) is difficult, because every site is different. One must admit that that part of Jesup is MUCH more residential in feel than Church Lane. 35 Church Lane does not work for downtown Westport as it currently functions.

              I’m happy to see this debate, it shows that the process is working. Blocking this change however may be blocking future Westporters from the experiences you all had in years past. Let’s make Westport a better place for Westporters rather than latching onto an idyllic past.

              Also, let’s see some plans!

              • Yes, let’s see some plans and not approve a zone change until we know what the plans are. It is this piecemeal approach to zoning that is most disturbing.

          • One man’s historic landmark is another’s eyesore. If the buidings in question were as worthy as some imply, they would not have been in a state of disrepair.

  41. Where is the environmental impact report?

  42. Again lets see the whole proposal not just bits and pieces. Lets see the what the developers are going for in its entirety not what they want today. In typical Waldmen fashion not being transparent about the planned development as a whole. divide and conquer is what the developers are looking to do, with much help for Ron Corwin. Oh and bye the way , great speech last night bye your brother in law, I knew it had to be family.
    Don’t forget to vote, vote, vote!!!!