Category Archives: Real estate

Roundup: Real Estate, Good Deeds, More


We all sense it. Now we have proof.

Jason Mudd of Cindy Raney & Co. realtors sends a Bloomberg statistic: This fall, Fairfield County had the fastest-rising real estate prices in the country.

Sales rose 80% in September county-wide from a year before. The median home price increased by 33%.

Westport saw a 72% rise in all sales, from January 1 through October 27, 2020, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. It was highest (135%) in the $2 million-plus price range.

Jason hears the same thing as realtors all over town: As quarantine cases increase, buyers (many from New York City) want more space — in their yards, and in their ability to work from home.

They want good schools for their children — and room for their kids to spread out, if they need to learn remotely.

Interestingly, open floor plans are not always the most popular. With families increasingly confined to their homes, “nooks and crannies” enable people to separate from family members for privacy.

Westport is attractive for many reasons, Jason says, beyond space and schools. There’s a vibrant restaurant scene. Plenty of shopping.

Another selling point: proximity to New York. Though the railroad station parking lot seems abandoned, the ease of hopping a train to the city is a big selling point for our town.

Plus it’s just a really pretty place, with tons of great people. But we already knew that.


Among the many people moving from New York to Westport (see above) is Maxx Crowley.

It’s a return home. His father Steve is the longtime owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services, and Maxx has joined the family business.

He’s also a new Westport Downtown Merchants Association board member. It did not take him long to help beautify Main Street and environs. He and his dad helped repurpose the summer barrels.

They’re also providing the holiday community tree. It goes up tomorrow, just outside Savvy + Grace.


Just in time for the holiday season: Good Deeds.

Westporter Bill Pecoriello launched the cashback app on Tuesday.

Good Deeds lets shoppers earn cash back while accessing their favorite brands and retailers, then automatically give some or all of those earnings as donations to the causes and nonprofits they care about.

Bill created the app after facing challenges raising funds for his nonprofit Sweet P Bakery, and The Porch to sell those baked goods. For more information, click here.


For 3 decades, ABC News correspondent and anchor Jay Schadler reported around the globe for “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “World News Tonight.”

He hitchhiked 20,000 miles across America.

On Tuesday, December 8 (7 p.m.) he lands in Westport.

Virtually, anyway. The Westport Library and “Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk team up for this online presentation.

“I come not as a teacher or a guide, but as a fellow traveler who’s still somewhere between being lost and finding his way home,” Schadler says.

Wilk adds, “I worked with Jay when he anchored the National Geographic Channel. I developed great admiration for his talent as a storyteller. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do in television. There aren’t many in Jay’s league.”

Click here to register for the free event.

Andrew Wilk (left) and Jay Schadler.


 

And finally … On this day in November 19, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In just 271 words — at a time when the nation’s very existence was in doubt — the president reminded listeners of our highest ideals.

He concluded by urging “that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

New Medical Office Proposed For Julian’s Plaza

The sign says that Saugatuck Grain & Grape is moving to 1460 Post Road. A few doors down in the same shopping plaza, Julian’s is a popular restaurant

But beer, wine, pizza and pasta may not be on the menu for long. Plans are afoot to redevelop nearly all of what is officially (but never called by anyone) “Greens Farms Plaza.”

The entire 3,654-square foot building — with the exception of the Bluepoint Wellness medical marijuana dispensary — would be converted to medical offices. That use is permitted in the existing General Business District location.

1460 Post Road East. Rio Bravo restaurant closed this summer.

The applicant — Chicago-based ROA Investments LLC — also proposes “a substantial and attractive upgrade” to the exterior. Along with a glass-enclosed entrance and enhanced landscaping, the front drive would be reconfigured.

The Architectural Review Board has voted unanimously to recommend
approval of the building design to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Saugatuck May Face New Traffic Woes

Saugatuck residents worried about over-development have spent years battling a proposed 187-unit complex on Hiawatha Lane.

Now they’ve got a new fear. And it’s out of Westport’s hands.

There’s a plan to built a warehouse and distribution center at 10 Norden Place.

That’s in East Norwalk. It’s accessible off Route 136 (Saugatuck Avenue/Winfield Street). And it is very close to Hiawatha Lane.

The proposed Norden Place warehouse and distribution center is shown in yellow. Tractor-trailer routes are marked in green and purple. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

What does “warehouse and distribution center” mean?

According to Save Old Saugatuck, the Norden property — which once housed an electronics company, then became an office park and has now added apartments — would be the site of a 330,000-square foot facility. It would draw 198 tractor-trailers — 62 to 67 feet long — and 376 cars each day.

SOS foresees “possible 24 hour operations.”

The distribution facility would include 19 loading docks, for 3 to 5 tenants occupying 60,000 to 100,000 square feet each.

The tenant mix would be unknown until the applicant receives zoning approval, purchases the building and begins leasing space.

Artists’ rendering of a distribution center.

Save Old Saugatuck warns, “This Norden Place warehouse will affect Westport’s Exit 17 and surrounding traffic.”

Tractor-trailers can’t fit under the railroad bridge (though god knows plenty of drivers try). So some would take the I-95 exit, head north on Riverside Avenue, then take a sharp turn onto Post Road West and continue on to Strawberry Hill Avenue.

“Our Norwalk neighbors came out to support us when we had to fight (the Hiawatha proposal) before the Norwalk Zoning Commission,” SOS says.

“It is critical for those of us who live in the SOS neighborhood to now give our support to our Norwalk neighbors. Support is in the form of petitions, emails, or open-to-public virtual meeting attendance.”

Emails can be sent to skleppin@norwalkct.org.

Roundup: Flowers, Food, Farm, More


It doesn’t get more neighborly than this.

In the middle of Greens Farms, on Prospect Road, Melissa and John Ceriale spent 20 years creating an 8-acre oasis. Gardens, trees, bushes and walking paths fill their property.

“Prospect Gardens” is one of the most beautiful spots in town. Most of us admire it — but only from the road.

Yesterday the couple invited all their neighbors over. Most came — including First Selectman Jim Marpe and his wife Mary Ellen.

Treats included apples from the orchard, cider and donuts. Every kid took a pumpkin home.

There was an observation bee hive, and honey tasting.

David Brant of the Aspetuck Land Trust spoke with Greens Farms residents about their Green Corridor project.

Debra Kandrak pitched her daffodil planting plan.

It was a socially distanced, supremely relaxing afternoon. Many neighbors said they’d driven, walked or run by the property for years. Now they know what’s happening behind the fence.

This spring, the Ceriales will add more beauty to their land. Owners of an adjacent house are moving. The Ceriales bought the property, and will take it down.

The former owners’ daughter and her husband were there today. They planted a patch of daffodils, to bloom long after their home is gone.

Neighborhood kids enjoy apples by the Prospect Road gardens.


The “best Mediterranean cuisine” is coming to Westport.

At least, that’s what the sign says at the former Matsu Sushi, across from Jesup Green.

I’m not sure if the name of the new place is “Restaurant Apply Now,” or that’s just the email address. Details to follow.

(Photo/Sal Liccione)


The other day, a house was demolished on Compo Parkway:

However, it’s not just any house. A neighbor thinks it was the original barn for the onion fields on the street, back in the farming days.

At any rate, it’s now just one more Westport memory:

(Photos/Tracy Porosoff)


When Q104.3’s iHeartDaily blog interviewed Nile Rogers, the headline was: “Why He’s Writing More Than Ever.”

It’s an interesting look at the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. And it includes his description of writing collaboratively with a partner in Los Angeles, while Nile is “basically living inside a box” in Westport.

Click here for those insights — and much more. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Nile Rodgers


More music news:

Daniel Tashian — the Nashville-based, Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/ musician, and son of Staples High School graduates Barry (who played with The Remains, Flying Burrito Brothers and Emmy Lou Harris) and Holly Tashian (a country star with Barry as a duo) — has a new, intriguing collaboration.

Daniel is working with Burt Bacharach. Yes, he’s still writing and performing, at 92 years old. They recently released a number of songs under the name “Blue Umbrella.” Click the YouTube video below, and enjoy. (Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt)

—————————–

And finally … Cardi B turns 28 today. I like it!

P&Z Explores Elimination Of Multi-Family Cap

Changes may be ahead, on Westport’s multi-family and affordable housing front.

This Thursday (October 8, 6:30 p.m., online), the Planning & Zoning Commission reviews a text amendment. If adopted, it would delete the “Maximum Multi-Family Dwelling. Called the “Multi-Family Cap,” this limits the number of multi-family dwellings in Westport to 10% of the number of single-family dwellings.

Without deleting that language, the only non-single family home development permitted in the future would be affordable units and market-rate unit units permitted in very limited regulations. All other types of development — including townhomes, apartments and condominiums — would no longer be allowed.

Belden Place is the site of new apartments.

Planning & Zoning director Mary Young says: 

The elimination of the multifamily cap will permit the Planning & Zoning Commission to continue its work diversifying housing in Westport, while retaining the predominantly single family zoning that characterizes Westport.

This text amendment does not allow multifamily development in any single family zones. Rather, it authorizes the elected Planning & Zoning Commissioners to continue to evaluate multifamily and townhome proposals in those zones where they are already permitted.

Thursday’s meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Comments in advance of the meeting should be sent to PandZ@westportct.gov.

Comments can also be sent during the meeting when the item is under review by the Commission before public comment session ends. Comments emailed during must be sent to PandZcomments@westportct.gov. Include your full name and address, and identify the agenda item to which your comment relates.

If you would like to comments in real time during the meeting, email maryyoung@westportct.gov (before 12 noon, October 8). Include your name, address and the agenda item to which your comments will relate. Meeting participation details will be emailed to you. Click here for the full agenda.

Roundup: RBG Vigil, Paving Project, Teen Photo Contest, More


Tomorrow night — as Americans pay respect to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington — the Unitarian Church will honor her here.

The outdoor vigil begins at 7 p.m. (Thursday, September 24). Guests can bring a candle in a mason jar, an RBG quote, or a story to share.

Masks are required. If you feel safer in your car, you’re invited to stay there.

Children are invited to be part of this memory-making event too.

Artwork courtesy of Stephen Goldstein.


If you live on a few local roads, you’re in luck. Starting tomorrow, Westport’s Public Works Department will begin paving:

  • Ellery Lane
  • Ambler Road
  • Main Street
  • Myrtle Avenue
  • Reichert Circle
  • Dover Road
  • Janson Drive
  • Janson Court
  • Harborview Road
  • Meeker Road
  • Crestwood Road
  • Coleytown Road
  • Old Hill Farms Road
  • Winding Lane


The Westport Library’s 8th annual Teen Photography Contest has an apt theme: “Together Apart.”  

It’s open to all Fairfield County residents in grades 6 -12. Renowned photographer Pamela Einarsen is the judge.

Click here to enter. The deadline is October 30. So there’s plenty of time for young photographers to take photos — alone or together, but of course apart.


The Richmondville Avenue Mill building is being renovated. Offices will be converted to condos. Michael Pearl was there, and warns: “Beware of flying doors!”

(Photo/Michael Pearl)


And finally … Bruce Springsteen turns 71 today. There were only a zillion songs I could have chosen, to honor one of my favorite artists and human beings. This one made it to the top. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)

Russ And Isabel Blair: No Stone Unturned

In 1954 a young couple bought a new home in Westport, near what is now Fresh Market. On April 16, they engraved their names on a stone.

Russ and Isabel Blair are still here. They’ve done a lot in their 6-plus decades in town, from EMS to local boards and commissions. She was a beloved Coleytown Elementary School nurse; he led many building projects, including the modern Staples High School.

As they raised their kids, moved to Woodside Avenue and enjoyed all that Westport offers, they forgot about that stone.

The Blairs’ stone.

But 66 years and 1 week from that date Carlos Colorado, his wife and young daughter moved to Westport.

While redoing their patio, they unearthed the stone. They thought about placing it somewhere prominent in their yard.

But after a quick Google search, they realized the Blairs are still alive. And still here.

Carlos posted that story on a local Facebook page. He asked anyone who knew the Blairs to please let them know.

“I am sure they would love to see this piece of their story and their memories, after so many years,” he wrote.

After 2/3 of a century in town, the Blairs are well known. Several people responded — including longtime EMT Mark Blake.

He’s known the couple for decades. He made the connection.

Mark Blake, with the stone.

Carlos showed Mark around his property — including the stone. Carlos cleaned it up, and invited the Blairs over to see “their” house.

“This is just another reason I love Westport, and am proud to serve the community,” Mark said. “These 2 families epitomize what Westport is.”

And on Friday, Carlos, his wife and daughter headed over to Woodside Avenue.

They heard all about life in Westport, when Eisenhower was president and the town was just starting to grow.

The Blairs and Colorados on Woodside Avenue, Friday afternoon.

“The Blairs are incredible people,” Carlos said. “They gave us a warm afternoon. Their strength and vitality left us amazed.

“I just hope that decades from now, my wife and I will be able to receive a young couple that happened to find a rock in the back yard of their recently purchased home in a quiet corner of Westport.

“And I hope we’ll be as bright, hearty and affection as the couple we met yesterday. In the meantime, I’ll take care of their house, as promised.”

Unsung Hero #159

Jacques Voris writes:

I live in one of the houses on Hiawatha Lane owned by Felix Charney. It is one of the houses he wants to knock down to build a controversial housing development.

Felix Charney

When businesses started shutting down because of the pandemic, he was quick to offer to forgive the rent for April. He did the same in May and June. He even offered eggs from his farm.

Now he has lowered our rent substantially. That is a huge help in these tough times.

It puts my mind at ease knowing that I, my elderly mother,and son have a place to live. So no matter what people may think about his development plan, they should know that the man behind it isn’t the greedy, heartless monster some would paint him as being.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Pic Of The Day #1239

A sly homage on Side Hill Road (Photo/Mark Mathias)

Why Is Westport So White? The Discussion Begins.

The title was provocative: “Why is Westport So White? What Can You Do About It?”

The speakers were heartfelt. Their list of examples was long, at a meeting last night that covered topics like long-ago real estate practices, current zoning regulations, and the roles of schools and police.

The event — organized by a group of residents ranging from long-timers to newcomers, as well as TEAM Westport — drew a crowd of about 75 (outdoors and socially distanced) to MoCA Westport. Another 25 or so joined via Zoom.

Black residents spoke of their experiences as a very small minority, in a very white town. In one compelling example, Ifeseyi Gale was confronted by a suspicious family when she pulled into a driveway to pick up an item.

Ifeseyi Gale addresses the crowd at MoCA.

2020 Staples High School graduate Natasha Johnson — now a Wharton student — sent a recorded message that recounted many painful experiences, starting in elementary schools.

Many speakers described their love for the town. For example, TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey noted Police Chief Foti Koskinas’ grace and calm, and applauded new Superintendent of Schools Tom Scarice’s openness to hearing about what can be done differently and better, in terms of diversity and inclusion.

But they did not shy away from demanding that the town do a better job in race relations.

A white student described a survey, in which recent Staples grads were asked about their preparation for living in a diverse society. Many noted that they had been led to believe the world is color-blind — but it is not.

TEAM Westport sponsors an annual high school essay contest. Past prompts have included micro-aggressions, and taking a knee protests. TEAM Westport has spent has spent nearly 2 years working with the school system on a framework including training, hiring, curriculum and staffing that would address diversity and inclusion. Winners of the 2019 TEAM Westport essay contest are (from left) chair Harold Bailey, and Chet Ellis, Angela Ji, Daniel Boccardo and Olivia Sarno.

Planning and Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin discussed how the lack of diverse housing impacts who lives here. She urged elimination of Westport’s cap on multifamily housing — which limits the total number of those units to 10% of total town dwellings, many of which are age-restricted and do not allow families — along with removing a restriction on “accessory dwelling units” with full bathrooms and kitchens. Permitting property owners to rent guest cottages, or create separate private living space, would expand housing stock and increase affordability and diversity.

Over the past few months, the entire country has talked openly about race. Organizers expressed hope that last night’s event will be an important beginning — not a one-time event — for their town.