Category Archives: Real estate

[CORRECTION] Rare Building Opportunity By Beach

NOTE: The previous version of this story misstated the listing price. My bad!

“06880” is not in the habit of posting real estate listings.*

But this one — on 0.12 acres, with a listing price of $2.45 million — caught my eye.

One of the last residential construction lots available in Compo Beach … (available) for new home construction or home/office combinational use … Ideally suited for an ultra-modern home with ample room for parking. Ideal for someone looking to build in CT who works in area or even commutes (bus/train shuttle service on doorstep) into NYC via Metro North. Ideal for someone looking to build a wonderful home in a great community…

There was this photo too:

Recognize it?

Neither did I.

That’s because it doesn’t exist. The image is actually an artist’s rendering of what could go there.

So where is this magical lot?

The listing also says:

Property is dual-zoned and owner operated a seasonal business for ,over 20 years … Existing structure has some history within the town and is 1,424 sq. ft. with detached two car garage.

That’s putting it mildly. The existing structure does indeed have “some history with the town.”

It’s 222 Hillspoint Road.

Though you probably know it as Elvira’s.

*It’s probably not a bad idea. It could be a great source of income. Especially if I ask for finder’s fees!

Rare Building Opportunity By Beach

“06880” is not in the habit of posting real estate listings.*

But this one — on 0.12 acres, with a listing price of $2.45 million — caught my eye.

One of the last residential construction lots available in Compo Beach … (available) for new home construction or home/office combinational use … Ideally suited for an ultra-modern home with ample room for parking. Ideal for someone looking to build in CT who works in area or even commutes (bus/train shuttle service on doorstep) into NYC via Metro North. Ideal for someone looking to build a wonderful home in a great community…

There was this photo too:

Recognize it?

Neither did I.

That’s because it doesn’t exist. The image is actually an artist’s rendering of what could go there.

So where is this magical lot?

The listing also says:

Property is dual-zoned and owner operated a seasonal business for ,over 20 years … Existing structure has some history within the town and is 1,424 sq. ft. with detached two car garage.

That’s putting it mildly. The existing structure does indeed have “some history with the town.”

It’s 222 Hillspoint Road.

Though you probably know it as Elvira’s.

*It’s probably not a bad idea. It could be a great source of income. Especially if I ask for finder’s fees!

L’Chaim, Chabad!

In early 2012, “06880” reported that the former Three Bears would turn into a Chabad Lubavitch synagogue. It would be used for prayer services, educational programs and other meetings.

The 9,180-square foot property sat on 2.73 acres, at the corner of Wilton Road and Newtown Turnpike. It was a historic site.

Three Bears Inn, in its heyday. (Photo courtesy of Westport Historical Society)

That’s where the Three Bears — with 6 fireplaces — operated from 1900 until 2009. It reopened for about 5 seconds as Tiburon restaurant, but the property was soon abandoned. Weeds sprouted on the once-stately site — parts of which still stood from its days as a stagecoach stop, 200 years earlier.

The story noted that complaints had been made by a neighbor about work being done without permits, and bright security lights infringing on neighbors.

Other concerns included traffic, wetland impacts, and exterior alterations to a historic building.

The interior of the Three Bears, from its glory days. (Postcard/Cardcow.com)

That story ran when I still permitted anonymous comments. It drew the most responses ever: 217. (The record still stands.)

They ranged far and wide. Readers waded in on Chabad’s mission, good works, and religious tolerance/intolerance in general; zoning issues like the permit process, residential neighborhoods, traffic, historic structures — even the pros and cons of anonymous comments.

What a difference 6 years makes.

As Chabad of Westport prepares for its grand opening celebration May 3 — including a ribbon-cutting ceremony with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — the neighborhood has changed hardly at all.

The Chabad of Westport exterior, on Newtown Turnpike.

The exterior of the Three Bears has been preserved. Some of the interior wood beams and other features remain too. More than 10,000 square feet have been added, but it’s in the back, barely visible to anyone. It’s all done in traditional New England style, with a barn-type feel.

Even the parking lot has been redesigned, eliminating a dangerous entrance near Wilton Road.

The renovated space — designed by Robert Storm Architecture, and carried out by Able Construction — includes seating for 300, in a light-filled multi-function synagogue; 8 classrooms for Hebrew school; event spaces, with a special area for teenagers; a large library, and a state-of-the-art commercial kosher kitchen.

The synagogue in the back includes plenty of light.

Eight apartments above can be used by visiting lecturers, and Orthodox observers attending events on the Sabbath who are too far away to walk home. (The apartments — completely renovated — were once leased to 3 Bears dishwashers.)

A large mural gives energy to the teenagers’ space.

The building process has reinforced for local Chabad leaders the importance of its site. Over the centuries, the property has been not only a restaurant, inn and stagecoach stop, but also (possibly) a house of ill repute, says congregant Denise Torve.

To honor its history, Rabbi Yehuda Kantor and Torve are seeking artifacts to display, and memories to showcase. Photos and recollections can be sent to DeniseTorve@aol.com.

An old sign hangs proudly in the new library.

Chabad has come a long way from the days when members met in the basement of the rabbi’s home, and rented the Westport Woman’s Club for High Holy Days services.

Of course, zoning issues continue to provoke intense Westport controversy. Only the location changes.

(Chabad of Westport’s grand opening celebration is set for Thursday, May 3, 6 p.m. at 79 Newtown Turnpike. It includes a ribbon cutting, mezuzah affixing, ushering in of the Torahs, buffet dinner, music and dancing. The entire community is invited.)

Drag-gone: The Sequel

Earlier today, I ended my story on the move of Dragone Classic Motorcars from Post Road West to Orange by suggesting the 11,000-square foot property might be the site of a medical marijuana dispensary.

Some readers took me seriously.

I was kidding! It’s directly opposite Kings Highway Elementary School. You’d have to be smoking some heavy stuff to believe that would fly in this town.

But here’s something to consider.

Word around town — from reliable sources — is that a developer has closed on the former classic car showroom. He’s got his eye on the property next door too — where Villa del Sol planned to move.

Why? He wants to build 8-30(g) affordable housing there.

As in, 150 or more 2-bedroom apartments.

The former Dragone property and its neighbor, on Post Road West.

There’s already a plan in the works for the other side of Post Road West — the former “blighted homes” site on the crest of the hill heading downtown. That’s on the Planning and Zoning Commission agenda, for 81 8-30(g) units.

For a while, most Westport zoning battles have been waged on the other side of the river.

Westward ho!

Own A Bit Of Zsa Zsa And Eva Gabor

Growing up on Clifford Lane in the 1960s, Joan Wright remembers stories about the pink interior at nearby #5.

The home off Old Hill was owned by Jolie Gabor. Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, her daughters Zsa Zsa, Eva and Magda visited often.

Eva — who acted at the Westport Country Playhouse — wed her 3rd husband, plastic surgeon John Williams, there. The marriage (one of Eva’s 5) lasted just 11 months.

The Gabor house on Clifford Lane.

The house is now on the market. Built in 1951 on 1.25 acres, it’s 4,235 square feet — large for that time — and includes 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and a pool.

And the listing realtor is … Joan Wright.

Sounds like a neat little plot twist.

(To see the full listing, click here.)

The Gabor family

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: Yes, There’s A P&Z Meeting Tonight, Too

A posting earlier today noted that on Thursday, April 19 the Planning & Zoning Commission will hear 2 more proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport.

As alert “06880” reader Phil Perri commented, there is also a P&Z meeting tonight (Thursday, April 5, 7 p.m., Town Hall).

They’ll hear applications for dispensaries at the current sites of the Westport Dance Academy (Post Road West, near the Norwalk border) and the DXL men’s store (Post Road East, former Blockbuster).

A proposal for the old Bertucci’s property (Post Road East, near Sherwood Island Connector) has been pushed back to April 19.

Perri explained that on the 19th, the P&Z will also discuss a proposed change to the medical marijuana text amendment to change the definition of a “public building.” That’s because Bertucci’s is within 1,000 feet of one.

What “public building” is that? It’s a small shed on the state-owned salt storage property next to Walgreen’s.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries: 2 More Sites Proposed

When the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing on April 19 (7 p.m., Town Hall), they’ll consider a special permit and site plan for a medical marijuana dispensary on the 2nd floor of the old Bertucci’s restaurant.

That site has been the subject of controversy for weeks.

But they’ll also consider special permits and site plans for 2 new locations.

One is for 1460 Post Road East: the shopping center where Pier 1 Imports used to be. (Much older Westporters know it as the old bowling alley.)

After Pier One moved out, a pop-up Halloween shop opened briefly at 1460 Post Road East.

The other is for 1803 Post Road East. That’s the smaller shopping plaza across from Stop & Shop, with Stanton Miles and Jennifer Furniture.

1803 Post Road East

Click here for the official notice.

81 Housing Units On The Horizon

If Westporters have traffic and density concerns about 9 homes proposed for the 2.2-acre Daybreak property, I wonder how they’ll react to this news.

Next Tuesday (April 10, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall Room 309), the Architectural Review Board hears a proposal for an 81-unit residential development near one of our town’s most congested intersections.

The application — submitted for property owned by Cross Street, LLC — is for the property bordered by Post Road West, Lincoln Street and Cross Street.

That’s just beyond Kings Highway Elementary School and Westport Rehabilitation Complex (formerly Mediplex), on the crest of the hill leading to Riverside Avenue, Wilton Road and downtown Westport.

Post Road West, where 81 units of housing are proposed.

A couple of years ago, several blighted homes were bulldozed there. The lot has been vacant since — except for one house.

The development will consist of 27 1-bedroom homes, and 54 2-bedroom houses.

Oh, yeah: It’s an affordable housing proposal, under the state’s 8-30g statute.

Comments offered at the ARB meeting will be considered by the Planning & Zoning Commission, when they review the application.

(Hat tip: Matt Murray)

New Daybreak Proposal: 9 Homes

First it was 12 units. Then 11. Now it’s 9.

Able Construction filed an application with the Planning & Zoning Department yesterday to build 9 units on the former Daybreak property, near Merritt Parkway Exit 42.

As before, the units are 2,000 square feet, with 2 bedrooms. All will be restricted: The owner-occupant must be 55 years or older.

One thing has changed. Plans now call for only one entrance and exit, on Weston Road. A cul-de-sac eliminates one of the reasons cited by neighbors in previous hearings: potential traffic hazards with an entrance on Main Street.

Plans for the Daybreak property. Weston Road is at the top; Easton Road and Main Street run diagonally from the upper left.

Able believes the market is there for Westporters who want to downsize from larger homes.

Under current 1/2-acre zoning, builders could construct 4 houses, of a few thousand square feet and with several bedrooms.

Or someone could propose an 8-30g project (multiple units, some of which are deemed affordable housing) on the site.

Plans for a typical unit proposed for the former Daybreak property.

Medical Marijuana User Offers The Real Dope On Dispensaries

Recent proposals to build 2 medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport — at the sites of the former Bertucci’s and Blockbuster — have caused plenty of controversy.

They’ve also raised many questions — and led to many misconceptions — about medical marijuana in general, dispensaries in particular, and the laws surrounding both.

An alert “06880” reader — who uses medical marijuana, and who for health privacy issues prefers not to be named — writes:

In trying to dispel myths about medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s important to understand how they work. Some people think it’s like going to get milk. Others think legions of people will pour into Westport to use the facility.

There was even a suggestion that we move the dispensary downtown, to boost our economy. The idea was that many patients would buy their pot, then shop.

None of these are true. And none are possible.

To get a medical marijuana license, you must be pre-qualified by your physician. You then must see a state registered and licensed medical practitioner, who submits your paperwork.

The practitioner must see identification with your birth date, address and more. It’s like going to the TSA office for a pre-check or Global Entry card.

But you actually need more than that. You have to bring medical records, and at least 2 different pieces of first class mail addressed to you at the location where your driver’s license or passport says you live.

After the practitioner scans all this information, you pay. It’s a yearly fee. The license is good for only one year. Then you do the process all over again.

Here is the important part. When you go through all this, you must designate which dispensary you will use.

It is not the Wild West. You must pick one dispensary. Your license is valid at only one Connecticut dispensary.

Westport will be able to know — in real time — how many patients will use the dispensary. We will know exactly how many people are coming here to get medical marijuana. And we will know who they are.

Once all of this gets sent to the state, it takes up to 3 months to get your license (though temporary licenses can be received within 30 days). That is, if everything was scanned and submitted properly.

Before you set foot in the facility, you need to bring your regular ID (most likely a driver’s license) and your state-issued medical marijuana ID.

At the door, you put both IDs onto a scanner. The person on the other side takes a few minutes to verify your information. She takes a picture of you, and finally buzzes you in.

Each time you enter, a record is kept for the state — with your picture. It’s more like using your safe deposit box than buying a quart of milk.

Of course, there’s more.

Before going to the one location you have picked, you must make an appointment with the pharmacist at that dispensary. He goes over your medical condition with you, and makes recommendations. He also tells you what your per-month usage is.

There is a purchase limit every month. The amount is enough to treat the symptoms of your disease. I assure you, it is not nearly enough for a patient to become a pot dealer.

Medical marijuana is expensive. In fact, it’s about 3 times more expensive than the equivalent street value. It seems very unfair to the sick and infirm to be price gouged, but that’s the reality.

There currently is no price regulation. Allow that to sink in. If prices are crazy in Bethel, imagine what dispensaries will charge in Westport.

There will not be a steady stream of “riff-raff” coming into our town. Economics point to a much wealthier Fairfield County clientele using the facility. People will not go out of their way to come to Westport. They’ll go to the facility closest to them.

As for the facility itself, location is important. There must be enough handicap parking.

Is it possible to get medical marijuana without being seriously ill? Yes. Some people will skirt the law.

However, most patients are visibly, seriously ill.  Many have prosthetic limbs or oxygen tanks. They use wheelchairs and walkers.

Most people who go into a dispensary don’t even buy pot (as in, the plant). Smoking does not go well with most diseases. Instead they get oils, pills, strips for the tongue, tea or edibles (which are gross — they taste like you’re eating grass. Real grass).

A variety of medical marijuana edibles.

So: no dispensary downtown. People getting medical marijuana are not shopping and strolling. They are sick.

If we really want to help people in need, the dispensary location must be well thought out. It should be in the back of the building. It isn’t right or fair to have seriously ill people hanging out on the Post Road waiting to get in, while everyone drives by and watches.

We need to stop thinking of a dispensary as dirty, and start thinking of it as a medical facility. Your kids are not strolling in to get pot. No one is. Dispensaries are so innocuous in appearance that unless we had this town-wide debate, you’d never know they are there.

Compassionate Care — a medical marijuana facility in Bethel,

So how come medical marijuana can’t be sold in a pharmacy?

A couple of reasons. One is that there is no price regulation.

Another is that it is not FDA-approved.

Also, according to federal law, all pot is illegal.

As for the concerns about what will happen If pot becomes legal. I have no idea. I assume Planning & Zoning will deal with it the same way they deal with wine shops, or people who want to open restaurants that serve alcohol.

But that isn’t really the issue. Medical marijuana dispensaries are not being set up in anticipation of legalization. Medical marijuana is completely different than recreational pot.

That’s not the discussion we should be having. Do we want to offer to help people now, in our town, or would we rather keep making people in need drive 40 minutes away to get relief?

That’s the only question you need to answer.