Category Archives: Downtown

Stumping For Kindness

I often identify contributors to “06880” as “alert readers.”

One guy gets special notice.

The other day, hyper-alert “06880” reader Steve Lunt was walking his dog on the Riverwalk — the lovely path winding around the Levitt Pavilion. (If you’ve never been, you’re missing a true Westport jewel.)

Suddenly, a rotting tree stump caught Steve’s eye.

Levitt Riverwalk - Steve Lunt 2 (2)

 

 

Looking closely, he saw this:

Levitt Riverwalk - Steve Lunt 2

We may never know who put that message there — or when, or why.

Which makes this little story even better.

 

Laura Maged’s WEST Comes East

When new shops open here, they often ask for an “06880” shout-out.

I’m happy to oblige, I say — provided they give me a strong Westport hook. It can’t be just “new store in town,” I tell them. Give me something local to sink my teeth into.

I seldom hear back.

Bags on display at WEST.

Bags on display at WEST.

That’s why I’m glad to talk about WEST. The new fashion/art/jewelry/ accessories place on 117 Post Road East (across from Bank of America) cleverly incorporates a Westport sensibility with influences from the “WEST Coast” (and even further west, Australia).

But it also carries the line of a very local designer — Emerson Kobak — who is still just a Staples High School junior. (One more reason to like WEST: The owners discovered Emerson through this “06880” blog.)

The new store is the brainchild of Westporter Laura Maged. A Long Island native who spent many “magical” years in her 20s and 30s in Southern California, she heard about our town after she and her husband moved to New York.

Laura Maged

Laura Maged

The folks she met here seemed to always do intriguing things. The “rich arts heritage and easy style” attracted her. She loved Compo Beach (and the playground), while downtown reminded her of Brentwood.

Laura thought she could “recreate a little of my special LA life here.” Starting in 2002, she did just that.

Now WEST, she says, will be a place where Westport and the West Coast’s “casual, easy lifestyles” mix. Her vision is for “a cool, easy place to shop.”

Emerson Kobak

Emerson Kobak

But while she’s all about bringing the coast vibe east, she’s also excited to team up with Kobak. The teenager studies every Saturday at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She spent this summer in Cornell’s fashion design program, and now adds her line — Emerson Isa Designs — to WEST.

It’s always good news when a new mom-and-pop — or, in this case, “mom” shop — comes to town.

It’s even better news when the owner truly gets the local vibe.

And gets what “06880” looks for in a story. After all, this blog’s tagline is “where WESTport meets the world.”

Big Change On Main Street

For years — perhaps decades — the Main Street streetscape has been marred by the dilapidated condition of #257.

Just beyond Kings Highway North, as you head out of town, the handsome home had fallen into disrepair. There was often someone puttering around, but paint peeled and the roof sagged.

Recently though, work has been done.

257 Main Street

The work is not finished. But already it looks so much brighter and better.

Even the moldings sparkle.

It’s Nearly 100 Degrees. Guess What Main Street Store Owners Did With Their Doors?

Nope — they’re not open!

According to alert “06880” reader Rich Stein, earlier today every Main Street shop had its doors shut tight.

The air conditioning was kept in. And customers kept cool.

cool inside

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #85

Last week’s colorful — but fairly easy — photo challenge showed the narrow steps leading from the Spotted Horse parking lot/back of Urban Outfitters to Post Road East.

Apparently lots of people — including alert “06880” readers Ben Frimmer, Tom Ryan, Sally Korsh, Rich Stein, Josh Moritz, Shirlee Gordon, Jeff Ruden and Wendy Schaefer — knew about this great cut-through. Now, many more do. To see the photo and all comments, click here.

This week’s photo challenge is also colorful. Perhaps more obscure too. If you think you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments.” Add any insights into why it’s there too!

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Harold Levine: “You Might Say I’m A Dreamer…”

Alert “06880” reader/former advertising executive/94-year-old longtime Westporter Harold Levine writes:

I recently learned about the closing of Oscar’s Deli, probably the last of the old family-owned stores on Main Street. When Sue and I moved to Westport we frequently walked Main Street, chatted with friends and neighbors, visited Sally at Klein’s to learn about the latest records, and dropped in on the Kramers in their popular book store. We shopped at Gristedes and the local hardware store. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring that mood back to Westport?

Main Street, in the mom-and-pop shop days.

Main Street, in the mom-and-pop shop days.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids would meet in school children whose parents were nurses, electricians, plumbers, policemen, teachers and auto mechanics?

Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could become friends with black, Hispanic and Asian kids before they went to college? Wouldn’t it be nice if Baron’s South became Westport’s Central Park, where kids could play ball, ride a bike or go roller skating, and families could picnic on this beautiful spot?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a plan to provide an area in downtown for small, family-owned stores, and where we could  stroll and enjoy the riverfront?

I can hear my friends saying, “he’s a dreamer.” They are right. I have always been a dreamer.

Perhaps there are others in town who agree with me. Maybe they will start a small group that could meet and hopefully plant the seeds for making Westport a “friendlier and more welcoming community” over the next 25 years.

Elm Street Swap Would Change Downtown Streetscape

As reported in March on “06880,” 36 Elm Street is the final key to creating an entirely new downtown streetscape. That’s where the Villa del Sol restaurant intrudes into the sidewalk next to the new Bedford Square retail/residential complex. And where an adjacent parking lot — near the back entrance to the old Y and the former Klein’s — is a poorly configured, hard-to-navigate, chaotic mess.

David Waldman — the Bedford Square developer — has spent months pursuing a land swap. He hopes to buy 36 Elm Street, then trade it for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman would build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green.

Villa del Sol would reopen there, alongside 3 small retail stores. Small retail stores would open there. Above them would be 4 apartments — 1 of them rented under state “affordable” guidelines.

The town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery. Waldman says that despite taking Baldwin spots for the new building, the town would net a gain of 2 parking spaces in the new lot.

None of this is new news. But Waldman has just created a web site that shows  — visually — exactly what the move would look like. Here’s the view looking south, with the Brooks Corner shopping center at bottom center.

36 Elm Swap 1

Here’s another view. Brooks Corner — is at left, with Serena & Lily behind it:

36 Elm Swap 2

Here’s an artist’s rendering. The new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left; across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.

Elm Street swap - 3

For more information on the proposed 36 Elm Street swap, click here.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

What Did Oscar’s And Lee Mean To You?

Lee Papageorge’s death yesterday at 65 from lung cancer came just a week after he closed his Oscar’s delicatessen. The events mark the end of a long era on Main Street

As a final tribute, please click “Comments” below to share what the man and the store meant to you. As always, please use your full, real name.

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge.

Bill Taibe Honors Yesterday, Tomorrow

Starting with Le Farm — and continuing through the Whelk and Kawa Ni — Bill Taibe has offered diners 3 very different visions of what a great restaurant can be.

Now he’s preparing a new space.

It’s in Westport’s original Town Hall: the 1908 stone building next to Restoration Hardware on the Post Road, opposite Patagonia. The building already houses another dining spot — Rothbard Ale + Larder — in the lower level (once the town’s police headquarters, including a jail).

Westport's original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It's now home to Rothbard Ale + Lager -- and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Westport’s original Town Hall, on the Post Road next to Restoration Hardware. It’s now home to Rothbard Ale + Larder — and, soon, a new Bill Taibe restaurant.

Even as he builds, Bill is not sure of the menu. The other day, CTBites reported:

“Westport needs a real old time tavern,” Taibe told us. Unlike his other restaurants, there will likely be few twists, no high wire acts. “This menu would probably not be as aggressive,” he suggested. “Unlike the Whelk and Kawa Ni, we’d even have red meat.”

He loves the downtown location, and the site’s historic bones. So even though his new, as-yet-unnamed restaurant is a work in progress, Bill knows one thing.

He’s asking Westporters for old photos of the 1st Town Hall. You can donate other memorabilia too: menus or anything else from produce markets, shops, butchers, bakers, and fish mongers.

You can find him at wtaibe@aol.com.

Or any of his restaurants, current or future.

(Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Bedford Square Takes Shape

For months, Westporters have watched as Turner Construction dug and built a foundation for Bedford Square. There was not a lot to see.

Now — every day — there’s something new at the project that promises to dramatically change downtown Westport.

The view from Elm Street. A parking garage -- with room for 100 vehicles -- is in the center.

The view from Elm Street. A parking garage — with room for 100 vehicles — is in the center.

David Waldman — 1 of 4 partners — says the bulk of construction will be completed by January. Then comes interior work.

He anticipates all tenants will move in by April. That’s 2 years after work began — right on schedule.

Anthropologie has already leased the YMCA’s original Bedford building, and the old firehouse.

Another 30,000 square feet will include retailers like restaurants and entertainment.

The 24 rental units — 4 of them listed as affordable, under state guidelines — will be marketed soon. (Serena & Lily, across the street, is furnishing the model unit.)

The other day, David took me on a tour. He’s proud of the big, dramatic way that Bedford Square will unify and tie together downtown, from Church Lane and Elm Street through to the Post Road and Main Street.

He’s also proud of small details. For example, the Flemish bond “will be here forever.” And the relief of little children is an exact negative of the fascia boards that graced — often unnoticed — the old YMCA.

David Waldman, with Flemish brick and the "little children" relief.

David Waldman, with Flemish bond and the “little children playing” relief behind him.

Interior space is important too. A public plaza will be open to businesses — restaurants, a chocolate shop, a juice bar — while residents can gaze down on it below. David likens it to a larger version of the one between Saugatuck Sweets and the Whelk.

Bedford Square 3

This is the plaza. The photo shows the back of the old YMCA — soon to be the site of a full-service Anthropologie store. Terrain — owned by Anthropologie — is designing a garden.

To the right of the photo above is the old Bobby Q’s restaurant. It’s not part of Bedford Square. But the owner will turn it into rental space — with the 2nd floor extending onto the plaza.

There’s a lot going on inside too, including new supports, windows, skylights — and 100% flood-proofing. The old Y gym (shown below) is 4 feet higher than before.

Bedford Square 4

The rental units range from 700 square feet to 2,200. Some are duplexes. Most have balconies. This one (below) has a killer view of Christ & Holy Trinity Church:

Bedford Square 5

Bedford Square offers many ways in and out of the rest of downtown. The archway below fronts Main Street:

Bedford Square 6

Around the corner the outside of the Y’s 1923 Bedford building remains the same:

Bedford Square - 9

In front, however, improvements are made (photo below). Bricks will match the new sidewalk on the rest of Main Street. The extended sidewalk will ease the merge from Church Lane onto the Post Road — and make crossing the Post Road easier for pedestrians too. The dedicated turning lane onto Main Street remains.

Bedford Square 7

(For more information on Bedford Square, click here.)


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!