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Tag Archives: David Waldman
1 Wilton Road — the little building huddled beneath the massive Wright Street office complex, at the traffic-choked intersection with Post Road West and Riverside Avenue — has a long history.
Built in 1830 — before Westport was even incorporated, when horses watered at a nearby trough — it’s a reminder of days gone by. Originally a home, it’s been in recent years a liquor store and yarn shop.
Now it’s home to Vita Design Group. The modern design firm’s projects include the Geiger development across from Greens Farms Elementary School, and the new glass house on Compo Beach Road near the Minute Man monument.
Alert Westporters recently noticed scaffolding around the 1 Wilton Road site. Some wonder whether it’s coming down.
Lucien Vita said his company spent its first years roaming around Westport. After starting in his home, Vita Design Group moved to several locations, including Main Street.
As a small business, they saw the 1 Wilton Road spot — with plenty of traffic (and everyone stuck at the light) — as a marketing opportunity. They bought the property 4 years ago and planned a renovation, showing off what they do best.
Permits took a while. Just before renovation was to begin, David Waldman and Greenfield Partners approached Vita with a plan.
Together they own the former Save the Children property, across the street down Wilton Road. They planned a retail/residential complex there. To mitigate traffic concerns, they wanted to purchase 1 Wilton Road. They’d reconstruct that building on the Save the Children site; in return, they’d give the 1 Wilton Road land to the town, for a much-needed turning lane onto Post Road West.
It took 2 1/2 years, but finally the Planning and Zoning Commission said no.
Though Vita was paying carrying costs each month for the property, they still wanted to help the town. They had a new idea: rebuild the office further back on the land. They’d keep its historical identity, yet still provide room for drivers to turn.
However, it could take 2 years to work out funding. And if that came through, a town or state body could deny permission for the plan.
It’s not feasible for Vita to wait. So — as the scaffolding shows — they’ve begun to renovate 1 Wilton Road for their new home. Plans include rebuilding the 1-story portion with a steeper roof, and putting new siding and details on the 2-story wing, integrating its historical features with a slightly modern touch.
The inside will be gutted. Its original post-and-beam structure has been covered up. That will be exposed again, in a nod to its nearly 200-year-old past.
“We want to make the building solid, and bring it into the 21st century,” Lucien Vita says. “We want to help it live another 100 years.”
That’s still not the end of the story. Vita says that even after renovation, he’s open to moving the building back — so long as that’s a practical, cost-effective solution.
Dream about that the next time you’re stuck at that interminable light.
Villa del Sol has served its last margarita.
At its longtime Elm Street location, that is.
The popular downtown restaurant is moving to 170 Post Road West. The former site of Peachwave has been vacant for over 2 years.
David Waldman — developer of Bedford Square — is purchasing the Mexican restaurant, adjacent to his new complex. It’s part of a land swap. He’ll demolish the old Villa del Sol. In return, he’ll construct a retail/residential building across Elm Street, behind Lux Bond & Green.
(Hat tip: Steve Stein)
One man revitalized downtown Westport with a building project. The other revitalizes lives, providing homeless people with buildings to sleep in.
Both men — David Waldman and Jeff Wieser — will be honored as “First Citizens.” The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce presents the awards on Tuesday, June 13, at a dinner at the Boathouse restaurant.
Waldman is principal of David Adam Realty. Under his leadership, Bedford Square — the former Westport YMCA — has been transformed into a lively retail/restaurant/residential complex.
That’s just the latest achievement in Waldman’s 26-year commercial real estate career.
A near-native, he arrived here in town age 1. His father — a marketer — moved here because Westport was “the marketing capital of the world.” He built buildings to house his business. He sold the company, kept the buildings, and a real estate firm was born.
David attended Coleytown Elementary and Junior High. He graduated from St. Luke’s and Syracuse University, then returned to Westport in 1991 — just in time for a real estate downturn.
Waldman persevered. His initial project — renovating the Art’s Deli block on Post Road West, including apartments above — provided him with his first understanding of “process, politics and zoning.”
He and his wife Yvette — “the one who grounds me and gets me through life” — have 3 children: Rachel, Jacob and Ava. He calls them “my greatest accomplishments.”
Yet Bedford Square — created in conjunction with several partners — is not too shabby either. By developing adjacent Church Lane and Elm Street, Waldman has “tried to make positive change. We’re taking the town where the world is moving — a little more walkable and connected.”
He calls himself “blessed to live, work and play in the same town. Sometimes that’s difficult. But it’s nice to see people enjoy our work.”
Now he’s turning his attention to nearby Sconset Square, and the former Save the Children site across the river.
“I’m only 47 years old,” Waldman notes. “It’s nice to have public recognition. But at the end of the day, the product on the ground is what I’m proudest of.”
Waldman’s fellow First Citizen honoree Wieser represents the non-profit sector. In 7 years as CEO and president of Homes With Home — Westport’s supportive housing umbrella — he has nearly doubled the number of beds, added new services, and engineered a merger with Project Return (the North Compo residence for teenage girls and young women).
Homes With Hope is believed to be one of only 4 such organizations in a town like Westport in the nation.
This is Wieser’s 2nd career. A New York banker with stints in Australia and Hong Kong, he and his wife Pat moved here in 1985.
Their choice of Westport was happenstance — they just wanted a “commutable suburb” (a town-owned golf course and beaches were added attractions) — but it soon became home.
With 2 young children, the Wiesers quickly met lifelong friends.
Wieser served on the Homes With Hope board for 15 years. He had not thought of working there. But when founder Rev. Peter Powell retired, and several people asked Wieser to step up, he realized that after 30-plus years in banking, he was ready.
His wife said, “This is something you wanted to do all your life.”
She was right. “It’s been a wonderful change,” he says.
Wieser is proud that his organization has been supported so well — and so long — by town officials and private citizens.
“Westport cares about our neediest neighbors,” he says. “Homes With Hope is a model for all suburban communities.”
Wieser hopes to keep it growing. “There’s still plenty to do,” he notes. “We’re getting chronic homelessness under control. The much bigger challenge now is affordable housing.”
Waldman and Wieser are not the only 2 Westporters to be honored by the Chamber of Commerce. “Young Entrepreneurs” Aishah Avdiu, Remy Glick, James O’Brien and Phoebe Spears — from Staples and Weston High Schools — will be feted too.
Westporter David Pogue — technology columnist/Emmy-winning TV personality/author/musician/New York Times, CBS News, Scientific American, Yahoo Tech and PBS star — is the keynote speaker.
We can’t all be First Citizens. But it’s clear — and the Chamber of Commerce recognizes — that Westport is blessed with far more than one.
(Tickets for the June 13 dinner are $80 each. Tables of 10 are also available. For more information, click here.)
Sunday’s post described a new vision of downtown Westport.
It explained that David Waldman — the Westport-based developer who conceived of and completed Bedford Square — is under contract to buy both Sconset Square and 155 Post Road East. They’re contiguous properties: Sconset is the small shopping center off Myrtle Avenue with stores like Bungalow and Le Penguin restaurant, while 155 Post Road is the cement building across from Design Within Reach (the old post office).
(Though the Westport Pizzeria building may at some point be part of some deal in some way, don’t worry: It’s open, and will be for the foreseeable future.)
If Waldman buys #155 and Sconset Square, parking areas behind them could be utilized more efficiently. And #155 could potentially house organizations like the Westport Arts Center and Westport Cinema Initiative
That story generated a decent number of comments. But because Sunday was Easter — and the most beautiful day of the year — it may not have reached every “06880” reader.
And not everyone with an opinion might have responded.
A few town officials asked if I thought the comments posted — generally positive, some not — reflect the feeling of most Westporters.
I have no idea.
So here’s another opportunity to respond. Click “Comments” below.
This is far from the final word, of course. But on a matter like this, the more voices, the merrier.
Since it opened 2 weeks ago, Bedford Square has become Westport’s newest destination. Folks flock there to shop, eat, and hang out in the courtyard.
David Waldman’s project — which took many years to conceive and sell to town boards, and another 2 years to construct — seems like the end of a long process.
But it may be only the beginning.
Numerous sources say that the Westport-based developer is under contract to buy both Sconset Square and 155 Post Road East. They’re contiguous properties: Sconset is the small shopping center off Myrtle Avenue with stores like Bungalow and Le Penguin restaurant, while 155 Post Road is the cement building across from Design Within Reach (the old post office). Eyeglasses.com is a current tenant; it used to house the Tack Room and Christian Science reading room.
With Bedford Square, Waldman re-imagined the way we use Elm Street/Church Lane/Main Street. If he acquires those nearby properties — and, rumor has it, the Westport Pizzeria building too — he could redesign that section of downtown as well.
And tie it together with Bedford Square, which is much closer physically to Sconset Square than most of us now realize.
Word on the downtown street is that Waldman could reorient Sconset Square, opening up the backs of those stores to anyone using a redesigned walkway from the Post Road to Church Lane.
He could also consolidate several of the parking lots on Church Lane — like the one behind SoNo Baking (soon to be Aux Delices) — making them more accessible and practical.
Other rumors are flying, including the possibility of the Westport Arts Center and/or Westport Film Initiative moving into 155 Post Road East. That could give those organizations great visibility — and bring more people downtown.
The synergy between arts, retail, restaurants (and the new Bedford Square rental units) sounds exciting.
Of course, Bedford Square did not happen overnight.
It took many long nights of meetings.
Followed by 2 years of construction.
Westporters have so far voted with their feet. They’ve poured into Bedford Square.
There are sure to be many votes ahead for this next phase of downtown development.
Guests of Anthropologie and Amis restaurant enjoyed a sneak preview tonight of the new Bedford Square.
I’m not in the market for a wedding gown — or most of the rest of what Anthropologie sells. But plenty of folks will be. Judging by the creative and stylish way they’ve repurposed the old YMCA, the 40,000-square foot store will do exactly what an anchor tenant should: draw plenty of shoppers to the entire complex.
And based on what I’ve seen and tasted of Amis, it too will be an instant hit. It takes full advantage of its Church Lane/Post Road/interior alley location — it is a true “trattoria.”
We’ve endured noise, dirt, dust and disruption for 2 years. Now the fun begins!
This morning’s “06880,” on the travails of Villa Del Sol during the construction phase of Bedford Square, noted that “a proposed land swap — exchanging the restaurant and adjacent parking lot for a parcel across the street — has been scuttled.”
However, despite reports in local media, that land swap is still very much alive.
Second Selectman Avi Kaner said this afternoon that the town has continued negotiations with David Waldman, developer of Bedford Square. That retail/residential project — on the site of the former YMCA — stretches along Church Street, with an entrance on Elm Street.
Kaner says the town and Waldman are close to an agreement on a deal. Details are unavailable. However, the original plan would have traded 36 Elm Street — the site of Villa del Sol — for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman hoped to build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green, with small retail stores and 4 apartments.
Under the original plan the town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery.
Kaner presented a status report at a Board of Finance executive session last week, and solicited negotiating advice.
Based on that discussion, he says, it is likely that the Elm Street/Baldwin lot land exchange will be discussed and voted on in an open public session, at the finance board’s April meeting.
Any decision would be subject to approval by other town bodies. The Planning & Zoning Commission has already given the swap a positive 8-24 review.
As he promised, David Waldman retained the facade of the old Westport YMCA Bedford building.
But as his Bedford Square project nears completion — it’s slated to open this spring — changes are evident.
After 94 years, the lintel no longer says “YMCA.”
Welcome to 2017.
As reported in March on “06880,” 36 Elm Street is the final key to creating an entirely new downtown streetscape. That’s where the Villa del Sol restaurant intrudes into the sidewalk next to the new Bedford Square retail/residential complex. And where an adjacent parking lot — near the back entrance to the old Y and the former Klein’s — is a poorly configured, hard-to-navigate, chaotic mess.
David Waldman — the Bedford Square developer — has spent months pursuing a land swap. He hopes to buy 36 Elm Street, then trade it for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman would build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green.
Villa del Sol would reopen there, alongside 3 small retail stores. Small retail stores would open there. Above them would be 4 apartments — 1 of them rented under state “affordable” guidelines.
The town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery. Waldman says that despite taking Baldwin spots for the new building, the town would net a gain of 2 parking spaces in the new lot.
None of this is new news. But Waldman has just created a web site that shows — visually — exactly what the move would look like. Here’s the view looking south, with the Brooks Corner shopping center at bottom center.
Here’s another view. Brooks Corner — is at left, with Serena & Lily behind it:
Here’s an artist’s rendering. The new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left; across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.
For more information on the proposed 36 Elm Street swap, click here.
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