The Westport Arts Center may be on the move.
To a few feet over the Norwalk border.
The gallery — which also sponsors educational outreach, talks, music concerts and films, in its Riverside Avenue home and other venues — has hired Sellars Lathrop Architects to possibly convert Martha Stewart’s former TV studio into the WAC’s new home.
The address is 19 Newtown Turnpike, Westport. But the 3-story building is in Norwalk.
Sellars Lathrop has invited neighbors to an informal meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, December 19). It’s an early step in the process.
The Westport Arts Center has a long history. When Greens Farms Elementary School was closed, the WAC moved in. Artists and sculptors rented studios in former classrooms, and the gymnasium was used for exhibits.
The town eventually reclaimed GFS for education. After being homeless for several years, the WAC eventually landed at 51 Riverside Avenue. The long, narrow space works as a gallery, and has a killer view of the Saugatuck River.
But there is little room for other programming — and none at all for working artists.
The Newtown Avenue project is not a done deal. Sellars Lathrop must make an application to Norwalk’s Planning & Zoning department. Westport officials will be involved too, because the entrance to the property is here.
“It’s no secret we’ve been looking for space for the better part of 3 years,” says Amanda Innes, executive director of the WAC.
“We’ve looked at many places in Westport. Some are near downtown. But this is a great property. There are 110 parking spaces. It’s nearly 10 times the size of where we are now.”
Riverside Avenue — which is rented by the WAC, as the Martha Stewart property would be — is just 3,400 square feet.
“We’re part of the whole fabric of Westport,” Innes notes. The Martha Stewart studio “is still Westport to us. In order to grow, this is the best space for all of us — hands down.”