Category Archives: Downtown

Post Road Real Estate: 2 Years Later

Alert “06880” reader Bob Weingarten writes:

In June 2017 I drove along the Post Road from the eastern border, near Bulkley Avenue, to the western end, near Whole Foods. I counted the number of buildings — including individual offices or retail space — for lease or sale. I spotted 50 signs, just on the Post Road.

These figures were the basis of an “06880” story: “This Space For Lease.” It drew 57 comments.

Because we have been told that the economy is “so strong,” I decided to drive the same route, and again count how many buildings or individual offices were for lease or sale.

This time I spotted over 65 for lease or sale. That does not include all the new residential construction on the Post Road, such as the 94 apartments at 1177 Post Road East, or the 2 mixed-use buildings with a total of 28 apartments (some in townhouses) at 793 Post Road East.

The former A&J’s Market on Post Road East is available …

While counting, I realized that this mix of for lease or sale buildings and offices was extremely different from 2017.

This time I spotted 2 bank buildings, a gas station, a farm market, a classic car dealer, and several large commercial buildings and retail outlets for lease or sale.

… as is the old Mobil Self-Serve near Barnes & Noble …

During the past 2 years many of the former for-lease buildings have been occupied. But it appears to me there is a larger inventory of space available now, with larger properties.

I have my own opinion as to the reasons — for example, higher rental rates or the economy — but other readers may have better knowledge.

… and the nearby bank, at the corner of Morningside Drive.

The 2017 Post Road story noted that there were “10 or so others on Main Street.” I just drove from the Post Road to Avery Place on Main Street, and counted 10 buildings or retail spaces for lease.

From Avery Place to Kings Highway North I saw an additional 3 more “for lease signs.”

The same questions posed in 2017 are still relevant today: “Is something wrong with Westport’s commercial real estate market? If so, are there solutions?”

Click “Comments” below to offer answers.

Or more questions.

[UPDATE] Remarkable Books Is Back!

Well, sort of.

Jane Green’s Remarkable Bookcycle — the quirky, fun homage to the late, much-lamented Remarkable Book Shop — reappeared on Main Street this weekend, across the street from the old pink store at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza.

Next week (note rain date: Sunday, May 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), you can find it at the first-ever Outdoor Market. Savvy + Grace owner Annette Norton developed the idea of filling the private parking lot behind Tavern on Main with local artisans.

Nearly 2 dozen vendors will offer jewelry, terrariums, hand-designed greeting cards and more.

The Remarkable Book Shop is gone. But the Remarkable Bookcycle is back.

And next weekend’s Outdoor Market may be the start of a remarkable new tradition of its own.

All’s Faire

Thousands of folks — of all ages, from across the area, with a wide range of interests but united by curiosity and creativity — descended on Westport today.

The 8th annual Maker Faire runs now through 4 p.m. on Veterans Green and in the Baldwin parking lot (off Elm Street, between Brooks Corner and Christ & Holy Trinity Church).

From astronomy to terrariums, electromagnetics to music, pickleball to ratatouille, there’s something for everyone.

Including the world’s largest 3D duck.

History in the making: the world’s largest 3D printed duck takes shape right now.

I have no idea what this kid is doing, but it looks cool.

Music meets technology.

Friday Flashback #139

The Westport Weston Family Y moved from downtown a few years ago.

Actually, it’s been gone so long it’s ready for an expansion at its “new” Mahackeno digs.

The iconic original building (at the corner of Post Road and Main Street) and the gruesome 1970s addition (on Church Lane) have been transformed into handsome Bedford Square.

We’ve all adjusted to the changes. But every year around this time, longtime Westporters remember the very best part of having the Y downtown:

Baron’s South Fill: The Sequel

On Monday, “06880” posted a story about Baron’s South. Reader Morley Boyd had written — and sent photos — describing construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project that had been dumped in the southwest meadow. He said that demolition debris was mixed with the fill; that there was evidence of soil erosion, and that mature trees had been removed from the site.

Yesterday, another concerned reader sent an update. This reader noted that the Baron — Walter Langer von Langendorff of Austria, who founded Evyan Perfumes in the 1930s, bought the estate in 1967, and lived there until his death in 1983 — had planted and nurtured diverse species of trees on his 32-acre wooded, hilly property, between Compo Road South and Imperial Avenue.

Among the “legacy trees’ was a Hinoki False Cypress. It grew robustly and beautifully in a protected valley.

It was judged the state’s #1 Golden Hinoki False Cypress, on a list of Notable Trees compiled by the Connecticut College Arboretum. It was not located where the construction occurred.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay and Planning & Zoning Commission member Al Gratrix went to great lengths to ensure that the tree — which had been designated for relocation — would be given special attention by the contractor, so it could thrive.

The Hinoki was replanted at the crest of a hill, bordering the Fairfield County Bank parking lot. The “06880” reader who visited yesterday reports that the tree is brown, dry and dead.

After replanting, the Golden Hinoki False Cyprus appears dead. This photo was taken yesterday.

Not far away, the reader says, there is plenty of construction debris in the fill.

The runoff appears headed toward Deadman’s Brook, and the Saugatuck River.

Pop-Up Gallery And Studio Tour: Artists Collective’s Inspiring Draws

It’s been a great year for the Artists Collective of Westport.

The dynamic group of more than 150 men and women — from internationally known to emerging, working in a wide range of mediums — partnered with several local organizations, including the Westport Country Playhouse.

They meet monthly to plan public events, exhibitions and stimulating experiences. They also tutor, volunteer, and curate art-related activities.

Now they’re gearing up for 2 of their biggest events of the year.

This Sunday (April 28, 2 to 4 p.m., 47 Main Street), a pop-up Preview Gallery highlights art from 45 artists (plus drinks, refreshments and music). The show remains open all next week.

Exhibitors include 10 artists who then welcome folks to the Collective’s Studio Tour (Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.): Charles Douthat, Árpád Krizsán, Judith Lambertson, Julie Leff, Steve Parton, Guy Phillips, Katherine Ross, Anthony Santamauro, Marlene Siff and Cindy Wagner.

Guy Phillip opens his studio to guests on the Artists Collective tour …

The tour is a special (and self-guided) treat through Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Norwalk. The Collective’s artists range from contemporary to traditional; their studios vary from light-filled lofts to backyard cottages to basement caves.

Each artist followed a different career path. But all make fantastic art. And all look forward to showing off their work, and the space in which they create it.

Tickets to the Studio Tour include a brunch at Tavern on Main (Saturday, May 4, 10 a.m. to noon).

… as does Julie Leff …

The Artists Collective of Westport thrives on the concept of artists helping artists. So it’s natural that this year’s Studio Tour benefits in part Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County, the Bridgeport-based non-profit that helps youngsters gain confidence in their own ideas and creativity.

A collective is a powerful idea. With its pop-up gallery and Studio Tour, the Artists Collective highlights the power of art in Westport.

(For more information, click here. Studio Tour tickets are $35, $20 for designers, free for children 13 and under, and available online — click here. Tickets at the door are $40, $25 for designers. This Sunday’s pop-up gallery preview at 47 Main Street is free.)

… and Marlene Siff.

Pic Of The Day #736

Levitt Pavilion and Saugatuck River (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

Eva Amurri — And More — At Fashionably Westport

It’s taken a few years.

But now the stars have aligned. And today the Downtown Merchants Association announces its next new community event: Fashionably Westport.

On Thursday, May 16 downtown and Playhouse Square merchants will sponsor a great runway show in Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall. Entertainment includes DJ/Joyride spin instructor Mo Prestor, and comedian Leah Bonnema.

All models are local, including 2nd Selectman Jennifer Tooker, 3rd Selectman Melissa Kane, TV host/author/realtor Mar Jennings, and several kids.

The next day — Friday, May 17 — is filled with storewide happenings and promotions, including pop-ups, trunk shows and giveaways.

Over 30 downtown retailers and salons have signed on so far.

So has Eva Amurri Martino. The very popular lifetstyle influencer (and “Happily Eva After” blogger) hosts and emcees the fashion show.

Eva Amurri Martino

She’s an inspired choice. She, her husband Kyle Martino and their 2 young kids have just moved downtown. Part of the reason they bought where they did was the chance to renovate a beautiful, historic home.

Eva epitomizes the WDMA’s mission: finding ways to enhance and stimulate downtown.

She says, “As a mom raising my kids in downtown Westport — and a blogger who loves all things fashion AND party — I am thrilled to be participating in Fashionably Westport to support WDMA, the local merchants, and Project Return. I hope everyone comes out to party with us!”

“We’ve wanted an event like this for a while — something downtown that’s focused on and produced with the support of our merchants, that enhances the community and draws people in,” adds WDMA marketing and membershiip director Colleen Wiedmann.

The non-profit has sponsored several well-attended events already, like the Fine Arts Festival and Westoberfest.

Which is why a business like The Grapevine — the new liquor store in the old Crossroads Ace Hardware space — asked to be part of Fashionably Westport even before they opened officially earlier this month.

And it’s why Garelick & Herbs — neither of whose 2 Westport locations are downtown — is donating catering services.

Speaking of donating: The Downtown Merchants Association is giving part of their proceeds — including a raffle — to Project Return, the Homes with Hope program serving young homeless women.

It’s become fashionable lately to knock downtown Westport. Next month, Fashionably Westport will strut its very cool stuff.

(Click here for tickets to the May 16 fashion show, and for more information on   all of Fashionably Westport — including participating merchants.)

 

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Maker Faire Makes Its Mark Next Weekend

The 8th annual Maker Faire gallops into Westport this Saturday (April 27).

Part science fair, part country fair, part carnival, it’s an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, students and commercial exhibitors.

They show off what they’ve made, share what they’ve learned, and geek out with a few thousand other like-minded folks.

Over 100 makers have signed up already. They include:

  • “Game of Drones” (sponsored by Sacred Heart University Engineering): flight simulators, plus drone building, training and programming
  • “The Future is Now” (David Adam Realty): home automation, electric vehicles (and a live band)
  • “STEM on Wheels” (University of Bridgeport): Connecticut’s first mobile laboratory bus, with robotics, coding, imaging systems and more
  • “The Great Duck Project” (Westport Sunrise Rotary): Help build the world’s largest 3D printed duck!
  • “Nerdy Derby” (Stanley Black & Decker): Build, decorate and race a custom car
  • “Sustainable Pathways”: Hands-on activities and exhibits, geared to making sustainability part of daily life.

Makers will be joined by artists, musicians, stage performers, speakers, entrepreneurs — and of course food trucks.

(The Maker Faire takes place this Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Veterans’ Green and in the Baldwin parking lot. Opening ceremonies take place at 10:45 a.m. Admission is free. For more information click here, email mark@remarkablesteam.org, or call 203-226-1791.)

The Maker Faire’s “Game of Drones”

Pop-Up Gallery “Uncovers” Women Artists

Darcy Hicks, Amy Kaplan, Liz Leggett and Tammy Winser are talented Westport artists. Many of their works address their experiences as women in today’s world.

As they talked last fall, they realized they were creating pieces in response to the Kavanaugh hearings, to stories of abuse, and to the joys, challenges and humor of motherhood.

“F— You, Hormones,” by Tammy Winser.

They also realized that they were keeping some of their work hidden.

“Westport has a long, rich history of art and writing,” Darcy notes. “But it’s small. Unlike New York, there is no security of anonymity.”

The women also realized that even if they took that big step into the open, there was no place to show their work.

Now there is.

On Saturday, April 27, a pop-up show — “Uncovered: What She Hides” — opens at 1 Main Street (the corner of Post Road East, where Calypso once was). It runs through June 1.

“Despite progress, women adhere to an ingrained societal protocol of accommodation and editing,” saysLeggett.

“The art and accompanying events in this exhibit will embolden viewers to converse and connect around shared stories.”

“Untitled,” by Barbara Ringer.

The pop-up show — which also features Westporters Chloe Blythe, Julie Gannon, Sarah Koskoff, Melissa Newman and Barbara Ringer — includes several inter-generational events.

Students from the Women’s Studies class at Staples High School will run an artists’ panel discussion on May 5. There are also coffees, interpretive dance, and an adult drawing and writing class (novices welcome).

“Art generates conversations and compassion,” Hicks says. “While allowing for varying perspectives, it can be the glue that holds a community together.”

(The grand opening celebration is Thursday, May 2, 6 to 8 p.m. A portion of sales throughout the show will be donated to Project Return — Westport’s residence for homeless young women — and the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force. For more information on “Uncovered: What She Hides,” including the schedule of events, click here.)