Downtown Affordable Housing To Be Demolished Soon

Westport is about to lose 14 more very affordable housing units.

And downtown is set to lose 2 more pieces of its history.

Applications have been filed to demolish 2 buildings: #7 and #15 Belden Place. That’s the tiny, seldom-noticed piece of Main Street property just past Avery Place, opposite Veterans Green and Town Hall.

Supposedly, a developer plans to expand 201 Main Street — the former Nappa screen repair shop — and level the Belden Place rentals behind it, to create the required parking spots.

15 Belden place sits right on the Saugatuck River.

15 Belden place sits right on the Saugatuck River.

#15 is listed in the Westport Historic District Commission inventory. It sits on the bank of the Saugatuck River (with quite a view!).

Though the HDC says #15 was built around 1930, that may be the date it arrived here. It might have been moved from New Hampshire in pieces in the ’30s by Alfred G. Violet. It has long been said that the houses on Violet Lane — not far away, off Myrtle Avenue — which he built in 1928 also came from New Hampshire.

#7 was built in 1920.

Both Belden Place buildings are in disrepair. For years, however, they provided hidden-in-plain-sight, much-needed rental units for local restaurateurs, artists, teachers, hippies and whatnot.

7 Belden Place is behind 201 Main Street (formerly Nappa Doors and Windows), and in front of 15 Belden Place.

7 Belden Place is behind 201 Main Street (formerly Nappa Doors and Windows), and in front of 15 Belden Place.

As Westport prepares to lose more affordable housing units, it should be noted that because these 14 were built before 1990, they do not count toward our 8-30g requirements. So losing them will not hurt us as we try to comply with the state affordable housing mandate.

But losing them will certainly hurt the Westporters who lived there, up until recently when they were told to go.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Hat tips: Morley Boyd and Wendy Crowther)


10 responses to “Downtown Affordable Housing To Be Demolished Soon

  1. Most Westporters know the little red house at 15 Belden Place as the wonderfully pastoral view they see of it from the river – which is its best side. This quaint wooden home, with its screened in porch, sits on the edge of the Saugatuck River – literally. There’s simply not enough money or lawyers in the world to allow you to build a front row seat on a watercourse like this today. And who lived there you ask? A Westport teacher.

    • Wendy Crowther

      As Morley implies, the photo above doesn’t show you the best side of 15 Belden Place. To see “the little red house” from its better side, click on the link below and scroll down the 23-page PDF to page 23. The photo provided will give you a much better feel for this gem. For a full description of the house, you can also read the remainder of the HRI listing for it that begins on page 20 of the PDF.

  2. I will admit enjoyed living in 9 Belden Pl until the ceiling fell down on me and the bee infestation. Westport water rats too! Great location, tho.

  3. At the end of Belden Place next to the water, there used to be a place that sold prints of paintings known as the Art Extension Press. They sold prints to schools in particular. As a teenager in the 40’s I worked at this place, sweeping the floor, washing windows, sometimes sorting prints. The people there were good to me. This was my introduction to a lot of French Impressionists I didn’t know, even coming from an art family. They sold prints for as little as 2 cents each! Just now I see on Google the Art Extension Press still exists in Westport. www
    But Belden Place was as unknown to Westporters then as it apparently is now.

  4. I have to say living on main st this upsets me i no lot peaple there. Does. The first selectman does or our p and z. And our rtm will they ask ques about this action on main. St

  5. Anthony Palmer

    When the property sell,who is the new owner?

  6. If there were anything dumber than paving a parking lot on a flood plain, I don’t know it. Town should not allow it, and should not consider the land, even if left unpaved, as parking space for the adjoining lot. If developer wishes to tear the place down, all they’ll have is unrentable space. If they restore the pretty building they’ll have grandfathered income-producing property.

    • I’m with you. “Take down a tree [historic home] put up a parking lot” (Joni Mitchell), should not be allowed.

  7. Matthew Mandell

    So this loss of affordable housing would hurt the Town mathematically. If these were deed restricted affordable housing it does not matter that they were built prior to 1990. If they are removed then we will be 14 units farther away from getting to the state mandated 10%.

    What the 1990 rules concerns is units and points towards a moratorium on having 8-30g developments.

  8. The town also needs to start taking some action regarding the ridiculous and sometimes deadly parking situation caused by our commercial landlords and tenants being left to their own devices.

    Witness the several Post Road fatalities due, at least in part, to insufficient parking at Shake Shack and other popular retail attractions. A Starbucks patron might end up being the next pedestrian hit on our awful stretch of U.S. 1.

    On the merely ridiculous side is downtown, where there is a net REDUCTION of downtown public parking spaces — ones that are not tenants-only — as new developments come online and bring extra traffic.