Tag Archives: ROAN Ventures

The Hamlet At Saugatuck: Hotel, Retail Plan Ties Rail, River Together

A decade ago, the Saugatuck Center project brought new stores, restaurants and apartments to the banks of the river. It also brought new life and vibrancy to one of the oldest neighborhoods in town.

An even more ambitious and innovative plan may now do the same, a few yards south.

The Hamlet at Saugatuck” reimagines the relationship of the river and railroad to the area. Designed to feel like an extension of the community, it’s envisioned as an economic engine for residents and visitors; a gateway to the rest of the town, and a chance to build something inexplicably missing everywhere else in Westport: a hotel.

A view from the Saugatuck River. These buildings would be on Riverside Avenue, from Railroad Place (left) to Charles Street (right). The railroad tracks are on the left.

Invested in and spearheaded by area residents – including Westport-based ROAN Ventures and Pete Romano’s LandTech environmental engineering firm, with world-renowned architect Bill Bensley – the project is making its way through the long approval process.

Yesterday, ROAN submitted an application to amend the text of Planning & Zoning Department regulations, creating a new zone called General Business District/Saugatuck Marina.

Plans encompass the rectangle between Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place, Franklin Street and Charles Street, plus land on Riverside Avenue from Tutti’s to Railroad Place, and the private parking lot above Luciano Park now used for boat storage.

A gourmet market would be built on land that is now a private parking lot. This is the view from Luciano Park.

It would not include the Black Duck, the office building on Riverside Avenue in front of All Seasons Marina, or Railroad Place between Steam Coffee and the alley by the train station. Current Railroad Place tenants will remain, and The Hamlet aims to help those local businesses thrive.

But what it will include is quite exciting:

  • A boutique hotel with approximately 55 rooms, 35 condo-type residences, pools, and underground parking.
  • New shops and restaurants, featuring local artisans.
  • Gardens, space to stroll and socialize, fire pits in the winter – and a spa.

The boutique hotel, including condo-type residences, and ground-floor shops.

  • A year-round gourmet market on the now-private railroad parking lot, with local vendors (think New York’s Eataly, but with an area twist).
  • A marina with at least 22 slips, giving the community safe and enjoyable access to the waterfront.
  • Water taxis taking guests to Longshore, Compo Beach and downtown.

Another view, with the railroad on the left, the I-95 bridge on the right.

  • A boardwalk along the river, similar to Bartaco’s, with the goal of Connecticut Saugatuck and Westport via waterway.
  • Re-skinning and beautification of the 21 Charles Street office building. Bringing it more in line with local architecture and aesthetics.

Affordable housing would also be included.

The Hamlet is envisioned as a place where year-round visitors – including those arriving by rail – would stay, play, shop and dine, then use as a base as they explore the rest of Westport.

ROAN also plans to implement cultural, wellness and family-focused programming, designed for the community at large.

There is plenty of work to be done. The current dry cleaners, near what was once a car dealership, needs heavy remediation. ROAN is ready to do that.

Redevelopment of this area has been discussed for years. This winter, state legislators considered a bill to designate areas near train stations for dense development. It stalled in committee, but similar proposals are expected again.

It took several years, and two stages, for the Saugatuck Center project to be completed a decade ago. The Hamlet is in the early stages of the permitting process. ROAN is targeting a 2026 opening.

So it’s too early to book a hotel room, or a water taxi ride.

But it sounds like it will be well worth the wait.