Commercial Buildings, For Sale Or Lease

Every couple of years Bob Weingarten drives up and down the Post Road, counting “For Sale” and “For Lease” signs. (He does not check out Main Street or Saugatuck.)

Right now, the number is 61. That’s in between the 50 or so in 2017, and the more than 65 in 2019 — but fairly consistent with the past.

Mumbai Times (next to Westport Hardware) is newly vacant. So are a couple of bank buildings —  Citibank and Bank of America.

But the bank at Morningside Drive North, which was vacant for about 3 years, should reopen soon. And there’s plenty of activity across the street, where the old Barnes & Noble and Marshall’s are being converted into Amazon Fresh.

The former Men’s Wearhouse building has a sign saying “SOLD,” but there’s been no action there in months. The Garden Center near Goodwill has been vacant for quite a while. So has the former Olympia Sports store in Compo Shopping Center. 

Here are some of Bob’s photos:

(Photos and collage/Bob Weingarten)

Clockwise, from top left:

  • Former Blockbuster and XL Men’s Shop (considered for apartments)
  • The former garden center near Stop & Shop
  • The former Boccanfuso and Subway
  • The former Men’s Wearhouse (planned for multi-family housing)
  • The former bank next to Walgreen’s
  • The former Bank of America, next to Starbucks.

Looking at Bob’s photos, I thought: Man, those are some fugly buildings.

What do you think of the commercial real estate market on the Post Road? Click “Comments” below.

20 responses to “Commercial Buildings, For Sale Or Lease

  1. I would be very curious as to how many ‘For Sale’ and ‘For Lease’ signs there are in Fairfield, let’s say from the old Excide Battery factory to the Stop and Shop. For some reason, downtown Fairfield always seemed like it had more activity, especially in the evening hours. Perhaps that activity has translated into less of those signs?

  2. The Post Road is pretty much one ugly slice through town. That’s why you gotta love Terrain, even better as it was a reclamation of about the ugliest buildings ever here.

  3. Fairfield may have fewer empty buildings, but the overgrown lot between “Garelick and Herbs” and “Twice is Nice” is the ugliest piece of property on the entire Fairfield/Westport stretch. Every time I see it, I wonder why Fairfield doesn’t use its “blight” power to do something about it.

    • Joyce — a few years ago, Walgreen wanted to build on that lot. The neighbors objected strenuously, complaining that it would bring in too much traffic, noise, lights, etc. So Walgreen withdrew its proposal and built in Westport instead. (if I am mistaken on a couple of facts, forgive me. It’s been a while.)

  4. Joyce, If you’re referring to that stretch of property that used to be Excide Battery, there is a reason why it has been like that for decades, and has something to do with contamination. I remember there used to be pipes sticking out of the ground to let the gases escape. I realize this isn’t a very precise explanation, but the general facts are correct.

    • It may have been spelled Exide Battery. The factory was a long brick building. I knew someone who worked there for 30 years. I’m sure many readers know which property I’m referring to.

    • Jack, she is referring to the empty lot on the Westport-Southport line.

    • The former Exide property is a totally different site. It is quite attractive when compared to the vacant tract on the other side of the road on the Fairfield side of Garelick and Herbs.

  5. Richard Johnson

    Post Road is really shameful. The worst offender of course being the Rings End building staring you right in the face getting off the Sherwood Island Connector. A really horrible welcome to town. You can bet realtors avoid having newcomers take that route like the plague. Surely we can come up with some zoning incentives that would gradually lead to the replacement of these buildings with something actually useful to people in town? Clearly we are over capacity for medical complexes and retail banking.

    The irony is that any proposal to replace these vacant, architecturally offensive buildings in disrepair with beautiful new modest-income housing would be met with fierce resistance and paeans to the architectural and historical significance of an office building from 1988.

    • I’m always amazed by what people consider the biggest eyesore. That little 2-story center containing Rings End will not win any architectural awards, but in my view it’s no match for ugliness with the opposite (south) side of the road extending 1/2 mile in either direction.

  6. Ellen Lautenberg

    One big difference between our side of Post Rd vs Fairfield is that it appears that they have more regulation as to the appearance of their buildings (like brick or more colonial style wood). I don’t know the history of our zoning regs but it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a bit more requirements as to aesthetics. I don’t like what the landlord did with the Fresh Market shopping center, for example, but maybe that’s just me. That’s not relevant to vacancies of course – that’s a function of high or rising rent – in the case of Mumbai Times, I BELIEVE that was the issue, sadly. Would love to see some of the landlords be more community minded.

    • Ellen, That’s a very good point! Downtown, in Fairfield, the buildings are very uniform. I know one brilliant and wonderful lady, who comments here sometimes, who could really shed a light on Westport zoning over the last 45 years. I hope she comments.

  7. Carolanne Curry

    Ugly? Who was chair of P and Z when ugly was preferred rather than doing the work to make the aesthetic on the Post Road reflect the distinctive Connecticut community that is Westport.
    Or was the money too much of a factor?
    Or did the P and Z feel threatened by lawsuits so members caved to the pressure. Whatever the cause, this is ugly defined.

  8. Gloria Gouveia

    The former garden center was a gas station. The former Boccanfuso property was a body shop. In the early 80’s the Planning & Zoning Commission so disliked the design of the former Bank of America building that they required that it be painted dark chocolate brown to better blend into the evergreens in the rear of the site. It has since been returned to the color (white) originally preferred by the developer.
    At the time each one of these Post Road buildings was approved, they were considered great improvements over what had been there before.

  9. This high-vacancy period is a great opportunity for government and property owners to collaborate on “reimagining” Post Rd. E., which is one of the more unsightly and dangerous commercial strips you’ll find in a wealthy town.

    Some suggestions: 1) consistent landscaping between road and buildings; 2) continuous sidewalks on both sides; 3) stoplight equipped crosswalks rather than the deathtrap variety now in place; 4) protected left turn lanes at all major intersections; 5) address obvious hazards such as the Starbucks coffee queue spilling into the road, and the Westfair parking forcing drivers to back up into high speed traffic.

    I suggest this is a higher priority than some of the other things identified in the new Selectwoman’s speech. Downtown parking, for example, can be made prettier, but it’s not a safety hazard or eyesore rivaling Post Rd. E.

  10. David J. Loffredo

    These commercial roads were built in a pre-internet, bygone era. Most of these storefronts will never be re-filled, or if they are, it’s only because others are being abandoned.

    Look at the evolution of the now emptied IHOP. Sad. That ironically should return to being an IHOP given all the young families in town with the dearth of kid friendly restaurants.

    We don’t need a million bank branches any more, it’s all on-line now, I can’t even remember the last time I wrote a check.

    I suspect many overtime will turn to multi-family housing, perhaps once and for all eliminating the 8-30g threat.

  11. Dick Lowenstein

    The former Blockbuster and XL Men’s Shop is, I am told, being converted to a Hartford Healthcare facility. (Wasn’t this once a location of the now defunct Lloyd Lumber store?)


    Sure is a mixed bag of opinions. Some of the newer buildings such as the former Kowalsky center are redesigned from their original colonial style architecture to a contemporary façade complete with zoning violations and past zoning agreements deleted all for the concept of attracting new tenants at higher rents so the REIT’s can turn them over for even higher numbers.
    Losers are the many small business’s which could no longer afford to exist and their customer’s. Where other’s see unattractive older buildings I see beautiful places with hard working enterprising business’s that support thousands of Westport families. These businesses’ thrive and bring the beauty of friendly customer service to the Westport community. In the normal course of time improvements will happen gradually without the destruction of the local business community and our town will be better for it. Sometimes you have think about what you wish for.