Paul Schott of the Westport News called the 60,000-square foot mixed-use complex planned for the site of the current Westport Y “arguably the most far-reaching commercial real estate project planned during the last generation in downtown Westport.”
There’s no “arguably” about it. This is The Big One. A true downtown game changer.
The development — announced Tuesday — would keep the original Bedford Y. The old Tudor building at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street has, since 1923, defined downtown.
But the Weeks Pavilion — the hideous 1978 addition that, in part because of its unwieldiness, has driven the Y to Mahackeno — would be torn down.
So would 35 Church Lane, an 1890 Queen Anne-style house. That will arouse a lot more sentiment than the lumpy, leaky Weeks Y.
The block — extending out to Elm Street — will be the site of a new “Bedford Square.” Retail, residential, restaurant and office space would ring a large public plaza. Public walkways will tie the entire area in with adjacent downtown areas.
The 30 residential units include 550-square foot studio apartments, on up to 1,800-square foot 2-bedroom homes.
Also planned: a 100-car underground parking garage.
Construction could start in the fall of 2014 — assuming (a big “if”) the new Y is ready then, and the lengthy town board review process goes smoothly.
Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months. That would be a chaotic time downtown.
But — judging from the initial rendering — Bedford Square could be a handsome, well-planned, creative and unifying addition to downtown.
Coming as it does while Lou Gagliano’s 2020 Committee is also working to make downtown more pedestrian friendly, the timing seems right.
The Bedford Square plan is definitely — not arguably — “the most far-reaching commercial real estate project planned during the last generation in downtown Westport.”
Let’s hope it works out better than a previous, similarly touted project 60 years ago: Parker Harding Plaza.
Then again, it can’t turn out worse.