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Category Archives: Saugatuck
For too long, the building at 60 Charles Street — most recently the Blu Parrot, before that Jasmine, and for decades the beloved Arrow restaurant — has sat empty.
The vacant building and overgrown lot have served as a shabby welcome to everyone coming into Westport off I-95 Exit 17.
Also for too long — ever since Peter’s Bridge Market closed — Saugatuck residents have lacked a moderately-priced place to pick up food.
Both issues are now solved. The building — owned by Felix Charney and Jake Grossman — has been leased to Mystic Market.
This will be the 4th location. Three others — 2 in Mystic, 1 in Old Saybrook — tout “gourmet quality products, at marketplace prices.”
Mystic Market will offer groceries, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, grinders, a coffee bar, and a bakery serving breakfast goods, breads and desserts. Catering is also available.
“It’s moderately priced — sort of a contemporary Peter’s Bridge,” says Tommy Febbraio, the Coldwell Banker Commercial realtor who brokered the deal.
A spring opening is planned.
Westport has long had 2 commercial centers: downtown and Saugatuck. For decades they’ve been engaged in a quiet — but definite — battle for business.
Shoppers and restaurant-goers, meanwhile, have relied on a couple of basic methods to figure out where to spend their money: ads, and word of mouth.
But now both sections of town have collaborated on a project that may help both.
A walking map of downtown and Saugatuck becomes available this week. Colorful and well-designed, it’s a way to encourage foot traffic, serendipitous discovery — and of course business.
The map is the brainchild of Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell. He noticed a walking map for SoNo, and wondered why we had nothing similar.
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association provided information and funds for the area bordered by the west bank of the river, Playhouse Square, the Post Road and Avery Place.
(Curiously, the Post Road is also labeled “State Street East.” That name has not been used since we shopped at Greenberg’s and Shilepsky’s.)
Mandell solicited Saugatuck retailers, restaurants and services himself. The other side of the map shows those establishments, in the familiar “slice” shape between Railroad Place, the river and Saugatuck Avenue.
Those guides are available at the Westport Library, Town Hall and other public places, along with many businesses and area hotels. Real estate agents buy them at cost, and offer them to clients.
The maps will also be distributed this Thursday (November 2) by Mandell and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe at the Marriott Marquis in New York. That’s the site of a “Fairfield 5” event. Besides Westport, officials from Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Fairfield will promote Fairfield County as a great place to live and work.
The Chamber of Commerce printed 3,500 Visitor’s Guides with map inserts, and another 3,000 stand-alone maps. Look for them soon.
Then start walking.
Diana Kuen’s blog is called Girl Reinvented.
That’s an apt name. In 2010 she quit her life running a successful publishing business, managing and producing travel sections for the New York Times and Boston Globe — with summers spent in the Hamptons, and winters snowboarding in Vermont — to take a long road trip across America.
She gave up her apartment. For nearly a year, she lived in a camper.
It was the first time she’d ever slowed down, and figured out what really mattered to her.
The epochal journey helped her rejuvenate the right side of her brain. “It sat pretty dormant for years while I ran in the hamster wheel,” Kuen says.
In the summer of 2016 — still exploring new passions — she learned how to sew. She also took a Brooklyn screen printing workshop (“because, why the hell not?”).
Kuen became so excited, she formed a textile company making whimsical dish towels. Soon her creations were in 120 Camping World stores nationwide.
Faith and risk have carried her far. All the way, in fact, to Westport.
While living with her brother in Fairfield, she found the Saugatuck Rowing Club. She fell in love with the neighborhood and its people.
Now she lives nearby. She rides her bike to the club, where she coaches rowing. She teaches standup paddleboard and runs clambakes for Downunder.
She’s also got her own textile business — 2, actually. There’s DishRaggs, and a charitable brand extension called CharityRaggs. She gives part of her earnings to worthy organizations, including Autism Speaks, animal rights and rescue groups, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Sandy Hook Promise.
“Each towel is a labor of love, a work of art, and a little piece of me,” Kuen says. “Think of DishRaggs the same way you might hang a framed picture on your wall.”
They’re fun and whimsical, with sayings, photos and logos.
And — because Kuen has just been here a few months, but loves “06880” (both the town and the blog) — there are a few special “06880” DishRaggs too. (With matching gift bag!) Each sale benefits this blog.
From now through November 15, Kuen offers 20% off all full-price DishRaggs (CharityRaggs excluded).
Get your holiday shopping done early! Find the perfect hostess gift! Support “06880”!
The next time you see the way cool — and very generous — Diana Kuen, be sure to thank her.
And welcome her to “06880.”
Foti Koskinas — Westport’s popular police chief — is a firm believer in the importance of community involvement. Under his leadership, the department is involved in a broad array of good causes.
As a leader, he knows the importance of walking the talk.
So it’s no surprise he’s part of Real Men Wear Pink. He’s honoring a friend fighting breast cancer — and advocating for his wife and 2 young daughters.
Foti’s goal is to raise $10,000. As of this morning, he’s nearly 40% there. (Click here to help.)
But he’s not the only cop raising awareness of the disease.
For the next few weeks, a pink Maserati will roll through town.
It’s not there to pull you over.
The eye-popping vehicle — courtesy of Maserati of Westport — reinforces that this October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
You can see it tomorrow at the Saugatuck train station (Sunday, October 1, 8 a.m. to noon). The Concours d’Caffeine is a fundraiser for the Westport Police Benevolent Association Scholarship Fund.
What goes around, comes around.
On Monday, “06880” gave a nod to the Westport Historical Society’s “06880 + 50” exhibit. It’s an intriguing look forward, at how our town might look and act 5 decades from now.
Yesterday, Saugatuck Center Transit Oriented Design consultants unveiled their latest master plan.
Looking forward themselves — but only 5 to 10 years — they presented a vision for the area bounded by the train station, Saugatuck Avenue and Riverside Avenue.
The landscape looks beautiful — filled with trees, sidewalks, a realigned park and improved lighting.
There are also over 200 new residential units. Plus more than 40,000 additional square feet of retail space. And new deck parking.
The development of Saugatuck is exciting. It’s also challenging and controversial.
It comes at a time when downtown Westport grapples too with new development — on both sides of the river.
Many plans for the future look great. Many blend our town’s history and heritage with the reality of today, and the promise of tomorrow.
Sometimes they miss things. Traffic — as anyone who has crawled through Saugatuck or sat on the Post Road can tell you — is central to all aspects of life here.
Our infrastructure is aging. Our public services are stretched thin.
This November, voters will elect a first selectman — and 3 Planning & Zoning Commission members.
Four Westporters are vying to be chief executive. Five are running for the P&Z spots.
All will face issues involving preservation of historic structures and open space. They’ll weigh in on amorphous subjects like town image and character, and concrete ones like personal property rights versus property development.
All candidates are invited to chime in on those topics right now, in the “06880” “Comments” section. Of course, readers can pipe up too.
But here’s something we can all agree on: Let’s keep it civil. Discuss the issues in a positive way. Don’t bash others; no ad hominem attacks.
After all, this is Westport, not Washington.
Our future is in our hands.
(Click here for the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design website. As of yesterday evening, the most recent presentation had not yet been added to the site.)