Tag Archives: Compo Acres Shopping Center

Compo Shopping Center: “06880” Readers Drive The Discussion

We may not be able to solve the COVID crisis. We can’t agree on where to put affordable housing, or what to do with trees on private property.

But together, we can fix one of Westport’s gravest threats: the Compo Shopping Center parking lot.

Yesterday, I asked for ideas about the clusterf*** that confounds us all. It is — as readers repeatedly report — a death trap. An embarrassment. And (this should get everyone’s attention) a detriment to business.

You did not disappoint. Ideas poured in — plus aerial photos, complete with arrows and Xs.

Sure, it’s the last day of the year. You’re distracted with New Year’s preparations, deciding which sweatpants to wear as you sit home tonight.

But I want to make sure that some of the best solutions don’t get buried in the Comments section. So here’s a summary of what you said.

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Evan Stein has a thorough solution — with a diagram:

Evan suggests: Close all connections from the rear parking lot to the front. Re-stripe the lots, for angled parking.

Divide the lot with a barrier (giant planters with trees or shrubbery) into a south lot and a north lot. Each would have one entrance, and one exit. Enter the south lot from the south. Enter the north lot from the north.

Each lot exit would have an independent traffic light. The exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s) would also have its own traffic light. There would be a 5-light cycle:
• South lot green
• North lot green
• Compo acres green
• Route 1 green (no turning allowed)
• Pedestrian crossing.

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Elizabeth Thibault likes Evan’s idea, but notes that Post Road traffic frequently blocks the light at CVS. She’d make the lights one way, going into the plaza and then flowing out the back. If that doesn’t work, at least paint a giant box in front, and ticket drivers for blocking the entrance.

Elizabeth has a more radical suggestion: Remodel each business, making the main entrances in the rear. She’d keep the glass windows and displays on the Post Road side, to attract drivers, but would make the store layouts favor back entry.

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Doug Kniffin offers 4 fixes, from easiest to most difficult:

Adjust the CVS-adjacent traffic signal for 3 separate phases: a) Post Road both directions; b) CVS lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west; c) Trader Joe’s lot exit only, with cars able to turn east and west.

Paint solid yellow lines down the center of the parking lots in front of CVS and Gold’s Little Kitchen. This will help keep drivers on the “right” side of the lot.

Change the exit ramp next to Cohen’s Optical from exit-only to entry-only.  The exit ramp now is useless. A new parking lot entry will reduce traffic going into the entry further west, at the traffic light.

Take space from the north end of the People’s Bank parking lot; create entry/exit access lanes between the back of the Compo Shopping lot and North Compo Road. People’s rarely uses this space, but an exit/entry there will reduce the traffic traveling through the front lots.

Here’s Doug’s diagram, with every option marked:

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Beth Berkowitz suggests angled parking too. That makes it harder for 2-way traffic to imperil drivers.

She’d also make the spaces closest to the road parallel parking — not head-in — and would turn the entrance/exit in front of CVS into entrance only. Traffic could exit only through the south (North Compo) end, or the back lot.

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Wendy Crowther has one simple, quick fix: Eliminate the parking spaces that encroach upon the lot’s main entrance/exit, as well as those near the center driveway that passes between the 2 buildings. This would allow drivers to enter and exit the lot without the hassle of cars trying to pull in and out of those spaces.

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There you have it: Westporters’ ideas for fixing a seemingly intractable traffic nightmare.

Coming soon: the Post Road/Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road debacle.

South Compo Sycamore: Sick?

Michael Calise has forgotten more about Westport than most of us remember.

But he hasn’t forgotten about the sycamore tree on the Post Road/South Compo corner.

The sycamore at the Post Road/South Compo intersection.

Calise — a Westport native, and 1958 Staples High School graduate — has watched it for many years. It may not have been there when the British marched past on their way to Danbury in 1777, but it sure predates construction of the 1950s-era Compo Acres Shopping Center. It is estimated to be at least 150 years old.

Constant traffic — and drivers idling at that busy light — have taken a toll. Seven years ago, “06880” reported on alarming tree-killing mulch, and bark damage. Shopping center owner Equity One said that they knew the sycamore was a “defining aspect” of the property, and promised to take care of it.

The other day, Calise sent Peter Hannan some photos.

One view of the South Compo/Post Road sycamore …

The arborist responded:

“For years the tree has suffered from anthracnose, a fungus that distorts the new leaves and often causes premature leaf fall. This is a direct result of wet and cool spring weather that allows the disease to thrive.

“As summer progresses and when these weather conditions change the tree will hopefully put on full foliage as it has in the past.

“The other item that was quite clear from the photos is the dead tops in the crown directly above the recent construction. In narrowing the environment of the root zone, some damage was certainly done.

… and another. (Photos/Michael Calise)

“Trees for descriptive image are a mirror images below the ground as they appear above the ground. So the dead tops point to where the damage occurred, much like girdling roots. If this tree were on a private estate it certainly would have not encountered all the environmental issues, and would have been sprayed/fertilized or injected for the anthracnose.

“Just as an aside, a Connecticut group registers and documents notable trees. The criteria is oldest, tallest, widest, largest diameter. etc. Several are in Westport. If nothing else, with all the challenges this tree has experienced over the years — and there have been many — its resiliency is certainly champion.”

Photo Challenge #315

Westport can be a pretty private place.

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed a sign: “Private Access/Residents Only.” Readers responded quickly. Most thought it was the gate leading to Compo Cove, the very private beachfront property accessible only by footpath. (Click here for the photo.)

Others guessed Stony Point (the private road off the eastbound railroad station parking lot), The Saugatuck apartments on Bridge Street, Burying Hill Beach, the Sasco Creek houses, or the condos behind Vineyard Vines.

But only Terry Sauer and Peter Swift knew where Elaine Marino snapped her shot. It’s at the far end of the parking lot behind Compo Acres Shopping Center (Trader Joe’s). A staircase leads up to the Birch/Linden/Pine/Spruce street neighborhood.

There’s a back story (pun intended) to the now well-landscaped area. It was originally a nicely forested hill, providing a buffer between homes and an employee parking lot

In 2014 the shopping center’s owners bulldozed it all, as part of the shopping center’s renovation. They might have left it that way too — but neighbors complained.

They now have nice access to Trader Joe’s, restaurants and fitness centers — privately, of course.

Back to square one. If you know where in Westport you’d see this week’s Photo Challenge, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Rowene Weems)

 

Photo Challenge #229

At first glance, it looks like just another nice New England scene: a tree, next to a decorative metal fence.

Then you look closely and go, Whoa!

The tree has actually grown around the fence, and the concrete steps nearby. It’s pretty cool, actually — proof that we really can’t control Mother Nature.

That image was last week’s Photo Challenge (click here to see).

But although it’s in a well-trafficked spot — South Compo Road, near the side entrance to Compo Acres Shopping Center, diagonally opposite the “Raid on Danbury” historical sign — not many readers knew where it was.

Phil Bancroft was first, followed by Michael Calise, Jo Shields and Morley Boyd.

Next time you’re stuck at that light — coming from the beach or the train station — put down your phone and take a look. You’ll have plenty of time, that’s for sure.

You can also spend time figuring out this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Our Long Wait For United Bank Is Over

Patriot Bank recently relocated, from the South Compo end of Compo Acres Shopping Center. It’s now across the street near Gold’s, giving new meaning to the words “drive-thru banking.”

But fear not! Westport’s motto — “A Bank in Every Strip Mall — is still true. United Bank opens soon next to Jersey Mike’s — just a few doors down from the old Patriot Bank site.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Which raises 2 important questions:

  • What’s the difference between this “United Bank” and “People’s United Bank,” which (surprise!) is also across the street (corner of Post Road and North Compo)?
  • When did Compo Acres Shopping Center change its name — dating back to the 1950s — to the bland-as-United Bank-sounding “Regency Centers”?

Pic Of The Day #337

Compo Acres Shopping Center (Photo/JP Vellotti)

[UPDATE] Banking On Fitness

[UPDATE] Apparently — based on comments from readers below — this is not an actual Equinox gym. Rather, it’s a sales location, for people interested in signing up for the new Southport site. Thanks for setting us straight!

For years, Westporters have joked about the presence of banks on 3 of the 4 corners at the Post Road/Compo Road intersection. (The only reason it’s not 4 is Winslow Park.)

But Patriot Bank recently moved across the street, near Gold’s.

Moving into its old space — which before the bank was Sam Goody, and long before that, Franklin Simon — is Equinox.

This will be the 4th Connecticut location for the high-end, Manhattan-based gym. The others are in Southport, Darien and Greenwich.

So now that it’s just a few fast steps from SoulCycle, we can make jokes about how many fitness centers there are in Compo Acres Shopping Center.

The new Equinox, in the old Patriot Bank. (Photo and hat tip: Alex Sherman)

Compo Acres Shopping Center Just Got A Bit More Crowded

Jersey Mike’s Subs opened today, in the Compo Acres space previously occupied by Robek’s.

The “fast-casual sub sandwich” spot — the 10th Connecticut location for the franchise, and one of 1500 overall — joins Trader Joe’s, Chipotle and SoulCycle in contributing plenty of constant, in-and-out traffic to Westport’s toughest-to-navigate shopping center.

That traffic will be particularly intense for a while. In addition to the usual let’s-try-the-new-place mentality, there’s an added incentive: Through Sunday, Jersey Mike’s is offering free subs for a minimum $1 contribution to Special Olympics.

The only catch: You’ve got to already have one of the 10,000 certificates “circulating throughout the community.”

Jersey Mike's was packed at 1:30 p.m. today.

Jersey Mike’s was packed at 1:30 p.m. today.

Those Pesky Red Lights

This is not stop-the-presses news:

The other day, someone ran a red light in front of Trader Joe’s.

This time though, the driver did not simply scare the crap out of a poor person attempting to exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center, through The Worst Intersection In The Entire Multiverse.

The driver — roaring east on the Post Road — denied running the light.

That did not sit well with Bruce Leavitt. He’s the husband of the woman who was hit. He knows how common it is for drivers to race through the light.

In 20 minutes, he saw it happen more than once. He also saw how tough it is for drivers leaving the shopping center; a large sign blocks the view of traffic coming from the left.

Bruce took this video, of a common sight:

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

Now he wants others to do the same. And not just at the Trader Joe’s/CVS Intersection From Hell — anywhere else in town you think there’s a problem.

If we get enough, we’ll publish them on “06880.”

And then we’ll have actual proof, to convince someone — the Connecticut Department of Transportation? Shopping center owners? The Traffic Genie? — to do something.

“Remove a sign. Delay timing on a light. Crack down on light runners…” Bruce suggests.

Send videos (via YouTube or Vimeo format) to dwoog@optonline.net. As the saying goes, “It can’t hurt.”

Unless, that is, you get hit by a Very Important Driver running a very clear red light.

This is the light in question. Drivers exiting from the Trader Joe's lot (dark car) often have to contend with cars flying through the red light on the Post Road, from the left

This is the light in question. Drivers exiting from the Trader Joe’s lot (dark car) often have to contend with cars flying through the red light on the Post Road, from the left

Robeks Runs Out Of Juice

With its fellow Compo Acres tenants, Robeks endured weeks months years of construction.

Robeks logoFinally, it’s over.

But so is Robeks.

Today, the smoothie shop stands empty.

Don’t count on traffic to ease up for long in the notoriously difficult parking lot, though.

Chipotle opens soon.