Terrain Tries To Tear Down Historic House

In 2011 — as part of its application process — Terrain agreed to preserve the small house at the corner of Crescent Road.

The Historic District Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission liked what they heard. The small, gray 1900-era building — one of the last examples of a single-family house on the Post Road — stood proudly across from the fire station.

The house on Terrain's Post Road property, at the corner of Crescent Road.

The house on Terrain’s Post Road property, at the corner of Crescent Road.

But parking is tight at the garden center/lifestyle emporium/restaurant. And it’s tighter than it should be, because as part of the permitting process, the P&Z gave Terrain great latitude with its spots. The Urban Outfitters-owned store was allowed to show 48 parking spots that could be used, if needed. In the plans, they were shown on the east side of the building — near Fresh Market.

They’re currently used to display plants, pots and other garden equipment.

Terrain's "reserve" parking spots, currently used to display plants and garden equipment.

Terrain’s “reserve” parking spots, currently used for plants and garden equipment.

Meanwhile, Terrain plans to knock down the house — and gain 8 parking space. The request for demolition is on this Thursday’s P&Z agenda (June 13, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium).

Terrain is also on tomorrow’s Historic District Commission agenda (Tuesday, June 11, 7 p.m., Town Hall).

Matthew Mandell is not pleased.

The RTM District 1 representative has made a video, and posted it to YouTube. In it, he explains the back story of Terrain’s dealings with the town.

(Click here if your browser does not connect directly to YouTube.)

Also in the video, Randy Henkels of the Historic District Commission notes their early support of Terrain, based on promises the store made.

Town planning director Larry Bradley describes his department’s role.

And RTM member Cathy Talmadge suggests a boycott of Terrain, if they press ahead with demolition plans.

At the end of the video, Mandell urges Westporterswho want the building saved to write lbradley@westportct.gov. Bradley will pass emails along to P&Z members.

Eternal vigilance is the price of preservation.

29 responses to “Terrain Tries To Tear Down Historic House

  1. Don’t let the bastards change the terrain!
    Nice tube, Matt.

  2. Janice Beecher

    I was just visiting Westport about a month ago and I am now going to call it the ‘tear-down’ town. The character of the town is being destroyed by tear-downs. I discovered that a house that I loved, built by the landscape architect Evan Harding, who also built my family’s house, has been torn down. It wasn’t ‘heritage’, old, or colonial. It was different and had its own character. I don’t like the looks of the McMansions being built on lots that are too small. Who needs a 5000-sq.-ft. house on a less-than-1/2-acre lot anyway? It’s just ugly. One of the homes that we lived in – our first house on Kings Highway – was torn down many years ago and a large, ugly McMansion was put up in its place. It is now in terrible disrepair, the lawn that my father lovingly put in is gone, along with the historic rock wall and two Christmas trees that my father planted. I believe it’s all in the purpose of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, an attitude that I’ve never understood, but that is pervasive in Westport. I don’t if I’ll ever visit again. Very disappointing.

  3. writing my letter to p&z now!

  4. Edward Bloch

    Same here Katherine. All Westporters should watch the video. It’s outrageous that a bit of Westport history should be sacrificed for eight parking spaces.

  5. Cathy Talmadge

    Great job Matthew….. You even managed to remove my stutter!

    I’ve asked the rest of the Board for permission to send out to the WTF Mailing List.


  6. ….Paved paradise, and put up a parking lot

  7. Bobbie Herman

    They should live up to their agreement. That’s what got them permission in the first place. What good are agreements if they’re not honored?

  8. There should be year-round parking at the Women’s club area with a free trolley to down town and up and down the post road. We have to be more pedestrian and environmentally friendly.

  9. Alan M. Beasley

    As in so many things, see the “Golden Rule” …..
    “Those with the Gold, make the rules”.

    All too frequently true in this town

  10. Go Matt, go! This is a classic corporate double-cross and Terrain should not be allowed to get away with it. I’ll write to P&Z immediately and hope a great many people will do the same.

    In my opinion, the entire Terrain property is an eyesore EXCEPT for the little gray historic house. Their building is a big, ugly box; their property is so over-landscaped, it looks like a junkyard; and adding more parking will just make it worse. Terrain is simply going to have to live up to their original agreement if they want to keep doing business in Westport. The P&Z Commission needs to get tough on this company!

  11. Isn’t Terrain a tenant. Doesn’t the owners of the property have something to say about a demolition of a structure on their property?

    • That’s the key question, it seems or this issue will never go away … as long as Terrain is there.

  12. Bobbie Herman

    The Westport Assessor’s records show the owners as CJ CURRAN LLC AND WHK INC.

  13. As one of the owners of the property I plan on doing everything possible to prevent the tear down of this house which my family protected for over 40 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Terrain is attempting to side step the commitments made to us during the lease negotiations.I welcome any input from the folks of Westport

    • Bobbie Herman

      Good! You have many people behind you.

      • Bobbie Herman

        PS — I won’t buy any of their overpriced junk anyway.

        • The parking they want is to accommodate their restaurant……history shows that restaurants in westport don’t last and if they are good IE MARIOS…parking doesn’t make a difference!

          • Bobbie Herman

            Their food is overpriced, too!

          • Cathy Smith Barnett '66

            Tom, you seem to be a fair and sensible man. I hope you will show these comments to Terrain and maybe they can come up with an alternative plan for the historical house. I’ve heard that they also give “decorative arts and crafts” classes–maybe they could make the house into a creative space. Just a suggestion!

    • Janice Beecher

      They should be made to move the pots, etc. out of the designated parking spaces, not tear down the heritage house. They need to live up to their commitment, or move!

  14. William Adler

    If Terrain made promises to protect the building in exchange for Town support, I think they should be expected to live up to those original assurances.

  15. Matthew Mandell

    All I can say is send in emails to P&Z and come to the hearings. Make Terrain know what’s really at stake – not the house, but their patrons continuing to come to their locations, including Urban Outfitters.

    See you Tuesday and more importantly Thursday night!!!!

  16. Rose Jordan

    I just sent my email to Mr. Bradley and the Commissioners. I love that old house – one of the last of its era. Thanks to Matthew for getting us into action. More parking spaces are not what is needed along the Post Road.

  17. Seems to me there would be several alternatives to tearing down this house being; increase the number of valet parking spots by coming to some agreement with the Volvo dealer on the opposite side of the road, park at The Fresh Market and walk to Terrain and lastly why doesn’t Terrain buy the empty IHOP building and turn that into a parking lot – talk about an eye sore.

  18. Joe has the right idea; if one could safely cross Post Road at the Pancake House spot, knocking that down would benefit the town by removing an eye sore indeed!

  19. Cathy Smith Barnett '66

    Eight parking places, really??? Can’t Terrain find some space indoors to place their garden decorations? It seems hardly worth it to tear a historical dwelling down for parking. Looks like the original Westport terrain is gone forever!

  20. Kim Crowther Manning

    What is currently inside the gray house? Does Terrain use the space indoors? How about they move their pots (or something else from the store) inside the house? I’m sure they could use their creativity to make it a lovely spot to shop (for those who might still have any interest at all in shopping there after this fiasco!).