Main Street Rising

Tomorrow (Thursday, December 6, Town Hall, 7 p.m.), the Planning & Zoning Commission will review a text amendment involving retail uses above the 1st floor on Main Street.

Currently, only offices, restaurants, apartments and retail food establishments are allowed above the 1st floor in the “Business Center District” zone. The amendment — submitted by architect William Achilles — would greatly expand the ability of retail uses to occupy space on upper floors.

There must have been some grandfathered uses. Klein’s (now Banana Republic) operated on the 2nd floor — in fact, they built it during one of their many expansions.

The Sport Mart — now god knows what, near the cut through to Parker Harding Plaza — used to sell ski equipment on its 2nd floor.

Today there’s an art gallery on the 2nd floor of the east side of Main Street — the same spot where (I think) the old African Room used to be. Further down, just past Brooks Corner, check out these 2nd-floor stores:

And before it moved to the 4-story 125 Main Street building, didn’t the Gap use its 2nd floor?

This seems like a no-brainer. Is there any good reason to prohibit businesses from operating on an upper floor — particularly when they’ve done it before?

Besides — judging from the shops that remain closed, long after Hurricane Sandy — I bet insurance companies would love a 2nd or 3rd floor store.

21 responses to “Main Street Rising

  1. There should be no issue allowing for additional retail on the upper floors. After all, every other use seems to conform and both Kleins and Sport Mart were there for years.

  2. I do recall that the original limitation was adopted to prevent additional traffic congestion. I also recall that the “Business Center Zone” includes portions of Post Road East as well as Main Street.
    I should also point out that the architect (Achilles) who requests the amendment is an employee of Barr Associates. Of course, Melvin Barr was the town’s P&Z director when the zoning code was adopted and has represented anyone who wants a variance to that code for the past 20 years.

  3. Another citizen

    I assume the restrictions were put in place when Main St was a charming small town place to shop. Now that it has turned into an outdoor mall there is no reason to restrict anything. Hey, more store space, more taxes paid to the town. As you said “a no brainer”

  4. speaking of main street, did anyone find out for sure why all the trees were cut down? i read some different opinions here but nothing definite. main street looks so sad now without all the fairy lights in the trees, esp at holiday time.

  5. Nick Thiemann

    Is dsiabled access an issue? Will elevators be required?

  6. Perhaps after we see the traffic study conducted on behalf of the expensive, old people condo development proposed for Barron’s South, can we make an educated decision about the impact increasing the retail square footage downtown will have on traffic and congestion…. you know those things that seem to matter only one month out of every four years in Westport.

    Anyone seen that traffic study? It’s probably stuck on a school bus circling the Squonset Sqauare traffic circle.

  7. THIS IS ABSURD! All of this mainstreet bull crap! Im sick an tired of all this Dan! What we should really do is just build a movie theater, popcorn stand, sock shop, and a sport bar type place. Otherwise, this post gave me absolutely no interest!


  8. Dennis Jackson

    Mark’s Place, Onion Alley, the original Westport Hardware and Ice Cream Parlor, 1160/WWPT.

  9. Will this text amendment apply only to existing structures or does it include future expansion? It would seem this could have long term implications, if the later is true.

  10. Michael Calise

    Its the parking! more retail means a greater need for parking. An increased need for parking means a parking deck or garage and metered parking. Greater parking requirements lead to increased traffic. The bridge is not getting any wider and effectively every roadway leading into town is single lane. Westport residents deserve the ability to cross town without taking part in a traffic jam!

    • Don’t worry, they got a plan, and a consultant who – for 50 grand – will tell them it’s all good.

  11. Downtown? Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.

  12. What?

    The original and excellent plan was to have humans living on the upper floors so there would be autos parked and people on the street and in the windows after store hours instead of a dead RETAILVILLE.

    WAKE UP ! The tail is wagging the dog. The DMA is the enemy. They want MORE TRAFFIC. Like, duh, the Welcome to Westport signs. Do any locals need to be told where they are?

    Like, duh, the dead trees, the parking garage, the parking meters, and the ZONING CHANGES.


    Ever see anybody you know on Main Street?

  13. I was on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 8 years and this was discussed…I still say 2nd floor retail does not work, 125 Main (old version) started as a 4 story mall and the retail there failed……Most people prefer ground story retail….