Save The Children: Bedford Square West?

The opening of Bartaco has opened up the west bank of the Saugatuck River. A couple of nearby restaurants are coming soon; across the Post Road, Arezzo is drawing big crowds (despite limited parking).

Now there’s more good news.

As reported first on WestportNow.com, David Waldman has signed a contract to buy the Save the Children property next to Bartaco, on Wilton Road.

That’s 2.59 acres of prime riverfront property. Though Save the Children is an internationally known, very important non-profit, it doesn’t need that great location to do its good deeds. For a while now, the headquarters — previously Famous Artists Schools — has looked a bit dumpy.

Waldman will fix that.

Save the Children's Wilton Road headquarters.

Save the Children’s Wilton Road headquarters.

Though sometimes controversial, his recent track record is impressive. He turned a dilapidated but historic Federal-style home into the wildly popular Spotted Horse restaurant, and breathed new life into what is now Urban Outfitters.

Now he’s remaking the other side of Church Lane. Bedford Square will bring a mix of retail, residential and office space to this vital but previously underutilized area of downtown.

It’s a project with plenty of moving parts. Throughout the long approval process, Waldman has listened to concerns — of taxpayers and town officials — and adapted well. He’s shown an interest in preservation, while understanding the needs of a suburban town re-imagining its entire downtown.

Bedford Square loking east, up Church Lane toward Christ & Holy Trinity. The Spotted Horse is on the right.

Plans for Bedford Square looking east, up Church Lane toward Christ & Holy Trinity. The Spotted Horse is on the right.

Bedford Square has had hiccups. But Waldman has shown a willingness to adapt, and a flexibility sometimes missing in past developments — his, and others.

I believe Waldman will show similar creativity and concern for his new Save the Children property. This is an enormous opportunity to remake a very cool, very important — and very overlooked — part of Westport.

I have no idea what Waldman will propose. I don’t know whether he bought the building and land because he already has a plan, or if he just realized the location, location, location was superb.

But I have faith he’ll turn it into something Westport can be proud of, and use to full advantage.

Waldman is a Westporter. His heart is here. That’s good news indeed for the future of our entire downtown.

Do you have a vision for the future use of Save the Children? Click “Comments” — and remember, full names please!

34 responses to “Save The Children: Bedford Square West?

  1. Steven Alter

    David

    Congratulations on this acquisition.
    What a wonderful location for you to do something truly special with.

    I wish you all the best on this new project.

    🙂

  2. Hey David!
    Please consider a bridge across the river… It would be wonderful to be able to have a nice walking loop with the Saugatuck bridge– how fun– tables across it?? Artists or kiosks???farmers markets– or just a place to stroll~
    Love your work–Im sure it will be great!!
    Betsy p kahn

  3. I second the notion of a walking bridge. The west side of the river seems isolated to me, and it needs to be better connected. This is also an opportunity to think about Parker Harding. Why do cars have the best view of the Saugatuck?

  4. All true! We are all real excited to see what David and his partners plan for that side of the river. It should be terrific. Congratulations!

  5. Eric William Buchroeder

    WE CAN’T WAIT!!!!! It’d be a great place for a YMCA. Also, a ferris wheel like the one at Navy pier in Shy-town. While we’re at it, why not pave the riverbed and turn it into discounted parking spaces for out of towners (i.e.: New Yorkers) visiting the “Westport Mall” to shop at the big box stores? There’s about two hours of low tide every 24 hours. Plenty of time to shop or grab a quick bite (the “low-tide smell” is actually a good thing because it helps control your appetite and save more room for dessert). Save the traditional parking spaces for the town’s residents. A casino on the West Bank would also work well and would provide jobs for the less fortunate (which is very important, don’t you know that?). You could have a barge dock at a wharf (why not call it “Schlaet’s Point FTS” i.e: For The Seasick?), pick up the casino patrons and take them outside of the 12 mile limit to gamble, smoke pot, watch porn and engage in other “illegal but harmless” activities that wouldn’t be illegal out beyond the 12 mile limit. Then they can return and resume their normal lives without any harm to anybody. Parking could still be free to residents and who knows? Maybe we could bring an artificial wave making machine so that people can surf without going to the West Coast. the Beach Boys could perform at The Levitt!!!!!

  6. It would be great to see some of the enormous amount of dollars invested in commercial and residential growth in Westport be in sustainable development. It would be most visionary to recognize the state of play of resource dynamics and lead by example in putting up a state of the art self powering green building. Building something that is architecturally unique, exemplary of new technology and half the cost to operate is long past due for developers with such resources.
    I wonder if these developers are ever pitched such ideas? The economics would be as good if not better with less volatility of cash flows (share operational cost saving with builder & tenet)
    Who knows maybe the tenets could be a socially responsible investment firm, an urban and roof top farm and the a true farm to table resteraunt below it. While we’re at it why not throw in a science and technology corridor where folks young and old could learn about the glass, lighting tube, green boiler, grey water system etc,..
    If you have the kids a choice on what to build, I think they would take this option.

    • Eric William Buchroeder

      Developers (any one of them, this is not a dig at the nice guy that bought Save The Kiddies) will do ANYTHING that improves their ROI. If they don’t do it, its because it costs them more than they’ll make.

      • I agree Eric. Ultra efficient building technologies offering ROI’s of 100-2000% with paybacks less than one year. The savings then continue for the long run with lower replacement costs due to higher upfront quality. These are things like green roofs, daylighting, smart metering/lighting and waterless urinals. Lower operating costs offer direct leverage to building value as opposed to the contra effect of the cheapest-to-deliver model. Additionally, higher tenant rates and satisfaction, longer leases can be other added benefits.
        I cite the work of the folks at Rocky Mountain Institute and their stellar partners. IMO, this is the new business model for building and many other industries (health care, insurance, etc,.) It’s all about efficiency savings and people investment while generating real bottom line growth that is lasting.

  7. Congratulations David! Let the fun begin

  8. Nick Thiemann

    Back when it was Famous Artists the owners tied christmas trees to the river fences and lighted them at night. They and their reflection on the river were magical from the Harder Parking side. Not much cost.

  9. The area across the way has always had its issues but it has always been a wildly cool secret. Some of the issues are caused by the town of Westport itself. First.. eminent domain or buy the house below the big office building to widen Wilton Road at Route 1. . the traffic there is ridiculous and I have given up all hope that drivers will ever move over enough to allow another car to squeeze by more than one traffic light at a time. The two downtown areas need to be connected. A footbridge over or even a colorful sidewalk on (paint the sidewalk) which should have some interesting things along the way.. like street vendors which the town doesn’t allow..music.. a trolley car//bus that’s shuttles people and helping with traffic everywhere.. . We probably should have an homage to Famous Artists schools and famous artists who made Westport what it is today…. sculptures, perhaps? Plaques? Colorful something.. we’ve got drab bridge syndrome expect for at flag time…. my two cents

    • Mary, what about a gondola service transporting people back and forth between the two sides of the river? And a gondola service on the south side of the bridge going up and down the river?

      • Eric William Buchroeder

        I know!!! Let’s run the gondolas all over town every which way (but loose)!!!! We can put windmills on top of the towers to generate the power to run the gondolas. it will be so sustainable it will never wear out!!!! We can make gondola rides free to Westporters and charge everyone else for riding around. Think how great it would be to run the towers all along the shore road from Norwalk to Southport. Make them high enough so you can see over the walls and look into the lives of the rich and famous. It would have been better when some of the movie stars were younger and in better shape but who cares???? Using the latest technology we can computer generate the narrative on the gondolas to sound exactly like Robin Leach!!!!

        Now!!!! Back to the West Bank: Let’s take a page from HOLLYWOOD and put a similar sign (except it would need to say “Westport”) on top of the hill behind the Tauck Tours building (which used to be a Gulf Station).

        THIS IS SO COOL!!!!!

      • Close your eyes for a minute, Fred. What is Westport missing except (not expect like my last comment) for the flags sometimes. COLOR!! We need color in this town. We have just about everything but color now. Especially since the lovely Pink Remarkable book shop closed. You can do color without being tacky. We need artists on the committee to help with the drab bridge syndrome. Anyone ever go to Willamantic and see the frog bridge? It is a beauty. (what a cool story that is!!) Maybe we need an artists bridge! THAT will connect the two parts of town. Have artists submit ideas to the committee.. (If you twist my arm, I’ll be on the committee) to beautify that bridge. It doesn’t matter what we call it.. but it has to be something other than what it is. A friend of mine Mark, submitted an artistic bridge design to a municipality so there are people who know how to do it.. and this wouldn’t be building the bridge, it would just be embellishing the bridge. Waldman is good, great, in fact.. but if you don’t get that bridge to be something that connects the two areas somehow.. it’ll just be a bridge. And that area on the other side, will just be that area on the other side. OK.. that’s 4 cents now

        • Eric William Buchroeder

          MPG, you’re right!!!! We need color!!! but WHO do YOU trust to do “color without being tacky”? And who can judge what is tacky? Only God can do that. There is only ONE answer: Photochromic pigments that change with the temperature. The technology is there already. Where have YOU been hiding? As the seasons change, so do the colors. If you don’t like the colors of a particular season, move to Florida (or Scarsdale) until it goes back to what you like. The concept is the same as “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” You can park your car on the bottom of the river and pay a nominal fee to watch the colors change (if my idea about paving the Saugatuck for parking at low tide is wisely adopted by the RTM).

  10. I think that is the Methodist church (or was) Christ & Holy Trinity has a tall, narrow spire. Unless I’m turned around. Which is very possible!!

    • Eric William Buchroeder

      It IS the former Methodist Church. CH&T bought it many years ago. They call it the Seabury Center.

  11. Bart Shuldman

    Great news for Westport. Even after the trouble the town out you thru with Bedford you continue to want to invest in our town. Thank you. Can’t wait. Westport has improved with what you did and are doing on Church Street. Fun restaurants and shops. Wonderful news and potentially more income for our town. A double positive.

  12. Eric William Buchroeder

    One more thing: If we’re going to have a rejuvenated Saugatuck Riverfront and call it the The West Bank, why not redo the ratty, threadbare Post Rd. and call it The (for Lady) Gaga Strip!!!! Naming rights!!!! We have to control the naming rights or everything will go downhill fast.

  13. Lisa Marie Alter (aka LMA)

    Hey EWB: Dunno who you are, but I gotta give you credit for “Most Entertaining Comments,” since Dan made us ALL “come out.”

    Fun reading… thanks 😉

    BTW: when you were suggesting “gondolas,” I thought you meant GONDOLAS… like they have in Venice (yea, THAT Venice)…

    Can’t ya just PICTURE the gondoliers paddling outta-towners across the Saugatuck River (past the over-population of geese and drifting, discarded Starbucks cups) ??… wearing striped boatneck jersey shirts (purchased from the sale rack at Jack Wills !!!)

    • Lisa, when I initially brought up the gondola concept, I was referring to the type of gondola boat they use in Venice. And, even if you’re not wild about the idea, I still love your cupcakes (and you should bring them to the opening ceremony for the cross-Saugatuck gondola service in 2015).

      • Lisa Marie Alter (aka LMA)

        Gosh Fred: my apologies…
        You are RIGHT: it was YOUR idea.

        Hey, I’m making a motion RIGHT NOW that you get FIRST CRACK at the Cross-River-&-Inter-Coastal-Gondola-Concession (although, I am sure Down Under won’t like that !)

        Joey’s and Elvira’s can vie for the “9th Mud-Hole” provisions (available only at low tide).

        And I will be there, cupcakes-in-hand (well, on-tray) for the Opening Ceremonies.

        PS. Hey, if ya getta hankering, gimme a shout — always happy to hook ya up with a cupcake, or two… but, just for you, Fred 😉

        • Eric William Buchroeder

          If you use Venetian gondolas that’s OK but if you have a leaning tower of Westport it can’t lean to the right, only the left. I still think paving the Saugatuck and having free parking for New Yorkers at low tide was a great idea.

        • Lisa, part of my motivation for this is that, when people hear my name, they frequently think (mistakenly) that I’m the guy behind the Longshore Sailing School. Well, I missed out on that one; but I plan to get in on the ground floor with gondolas.

  14. Love the footbridge idea!

  15. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Zip lines are more sophisticated.
    Geezo, you guys need to travel more.

  16. West Bank ain’t gonna happen till ya rename the bridge something popular like ” Famous Westporters Bridge” and put stars on the sidewalk and plaques on the rail. And a covered sidewalk with benches. And…and…

    • WAIT … a Westport Walk of Fame..over the bridge.. get bas relief or intaglio of the famous people who lived/lived/live here.. and put them on the sidewalk going over to the bridge.. with digital stuff.. that can’t be difficult or expensive. Maybe do the things they do on Stew Leonards Cakes but on the sidewalks?? Photos of the famous peeps?? Seriously now.. that could be it. With all of the perks Hollywood gets now in CT.. we could include all the movies filmed here.. there’s a lot already.

  17. Ann Marie Flynn

    Yea! An zip lines won’t slime up….

  18. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Man, do you all show up at Council meetings? If so, I’d love to be a “fly on the wall”. Good luck with your city planning. Just remember to plant those trees!

  19. rebecca howe

    the westport farmers market needs a permanent pavilion with restrooms. this could be rented to other groups and events. there is state funding for such structures that many other CT towns are taking advantage of. why not westport?