The Post Road sure has changed in the century or so since this photo was taken.
Yet 100 years or so later, much of it still looks familiar.
Click on or hover over to enlarge.
In this west-looking view — provided by alert reader/amateur historian Mary Gai — we see the road median, beginning about where the new retail/ residential/office complex is at the foot of Long Lots Road.
Further along on the right is the current site of New Country Toyota, and other buildings that still remain.
At the crest of the hill, on the south (left) is Sakura’s predecessor. Cumberland Farms, Calise’s, a lumber store, small shopping center, Citgo and more have taken over the rest of that side — but the topography is the same. It’s easy to visualize what the Post Road (State Street/US 1) looked like then.
It’s much harder to imagine the almost total lack of traffic.
It’s a long-neglected property. A developer hopes to tear down the tired old building, clean up the land and build a new office/retail/food store complex, as well as residential retail units.
There are 16 or so affordable units there now. They’d be gone. They don’t count toward Westport’s state-mandated 8-30g affordable housing number, however, because they were built (long) before 1990.
The new plan includes 14 units. Only 3 would be “affordable” — but they would apply toward our total number.
Those are some of the issues surrounding a proposal heard by Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission recently for 785 Post Road East. It sits unobtrusively between Westport Wash & Wax and New Country Toyota — and it has for many years.
785 Post Road East, between Westport Wash & Wax and New Country Toyota.
In recent years, the rear of the property has been used as a dumping ground. The house fronting the Post Road is not in dire shape, but it’s sure not distinguished either.
The new plan includes a 2-story building for office space, plus retail and that convenience or food store. The rental units would be part of 3 separate 2 1/2-story buildings. Ten would be 2-bedrooms; 4 would have 1 bedroom. There would be parking for 49 cars.
A “Notice of Intention to Demolish” sign already hangs on the existing building. Another one promises “Leasing Available.”
If the P&Z decides in an upcoming meeting to approve the project — or if they okay another development down the road — one thing is certain: Traffic on the Post Road will get even worse.
Right now mornings on that stretch — including the merge from Long Lots Road — are brutal. When there’s an accident on I-95, nothing moves.
So the next time you’re stuck there, take a look to your right. If you never noticed 785 Post Road East before, you will now.
You may be able to surround property with something uglier than a chain link fence, but I don’t know how.
This one appeared at the foot of Long Lots Road, where it runs into the Post Road, a day or so ago. I knew the Toyota dealership used to park cars there — a few steps away from their lot — so I gave them a call.
Tom Coppinger, general manager of New Country Toyota, quickly explained that those cars belonged to the previous owner: Crabtree Toyota. They were parked on a month-t0-month rental — but it was a non-conforming use, so the new owners had to stop.
Tom had noticed the “Space Available” sign by the fence, and hoped to use it to expand. But it backs up to residential property, so he’d never get approval. He’s looking “all over town,” he said, for space.
So, I wondered: Is Toyota a dealership that — defying all automotive trends — is doing well?”
“Not fantastic,” Tom admitted. “We’ve reduced staff. But we’re certainly busy. Our Land Cruiser and Sequoias — the biggest models — are not doing well. But all the other brands are.
“It’s not the best of times, but we’re holding our own.”
So keep your eye out for a spot where New Country Toyota can move. And let’s see which new bank — I mean, building — ends up on one of the last remaining open parcels of Post Road land.
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