Rumors swirled yesterday morning on social media: An Antifa-led protest was headed to Westport.
Several dozen protesters did gather at Jesup Green. Assisted by Westport police, they marched across the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge to Norwalk, then returned. They ended up — chanting “Black lives matter!” — at the police station on Jesup Road, where Chief Foti Koskinas spoke movingly to them of his experiences as a first-generation America.
But last night — out of caution, fear or both — at least 2 downtown businesses boarded their windows.
Tiffany on the Post Road …
… and the Sunglass Hut on Main Street. (Photos/Chip Stephens)
Not to get all Chicken Little here, but shouldn’t Tuesday’s post — about the closing of Klaff’s — be a little worrisome to Westport?
The downtown lighting store — a Taylor Place anchor for at least 2 decades — is the latest victim of Hurricane Sandy. Though the showroom was not damaged, the stockroom and storage area downstairs were ruined. The store was closed for 2 weeks, and never recovered.
Meanwhile, on nearby Main Street, Chico’s and Sunglass Hut remain closed. It’s been over 5 months since the super-storm struck. And Sunglass Hut is on the far side of Main Street — away from the river.
Downtown Westport is far from dead. Paper Source and Steven Alan have moved into the 1st new building there since the Nixon administration, while the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — a clever, energetic group — brings life, creativity and human beings to that part of town.
The sign says, “We are temporarily closed. Please visit our other boutiques nearby!!” They’re in Fairfield, Stamford and Milford.
And yet…and yet…what’s the future of Main Street? How much flooding can those low-lying streets and parking lots endure? The next time — and there will be a next time — how many more corporate headquarters will say “See ya?” Even before the next time, how many leases coming up for renewal will not be renewed?
Sandy flooded the Westport Y big-time. And the damage did not just come from the river roaring up the road. Water rose from underneath, flooding the Y’s electrical system and nearly delivering a knockout punch.
What will that mean for development of the new Bedford Square — and what will it do to the cost of that retail/residential/office complex?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I do know that they haven’t been asked much, even as Main Street stores remain shuttered, and Klaff’s is ready to go.
And that lack of public discussion may be the biggest question mark of all.
UPDATE: As WestportNow pointed out yesterday, a 2nd Taylor Place business is also leaving. Chic Jolie, a women’s apparel store, will close on April 30, and reopen the next day in Fairfield’s Brick Walk. The store was in Westport for just 8 months, but flooded twice.
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