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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Last Part of Baron’s South Property for Sale: Price $7 Million

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The last piece of the original Baron’s South property in Westport that remains in private hands is up for sale. But the price tag for the 1.55-acre parcel at the corner of Compo Road South and Post Road East is steep—$7 million.

Neither the YMCA, which is looking to move from its downtown location, nor the town, which purchased the balance of the property five years ago, seems interested.

Gail Connolly, vice president of sales for William Raveis, said the 1932 house on the property with five or six bedrooms and five bathrooms has been unoccupied in recent years except for a caretaker.

The town had purchased the rest of the almost 23-acre Baron’s South property in January 1999 for $7 million, down from its original $11.5 million asking price.

The corner property is actually three half-acre parcels, Connolly said, and includes 18,000 square feet directly on the corner that is zoned for commercial purposes.

She said soaring land values together with the attractiveness of the commercial area account for much of the steep asking price. She said it would be suitable for a bank or other commercial office.

Dick Foot, executive director of the YMCA, said the Y had been approached to see if it had any interest in the property.

“Land of 1.55 acres is not adequate in size to meet the needs of the YMCA and the sale price of $7 million is roughly equivalent to what the entire rest of Baron’s sold for,” he said.

Foot also recalled that the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission has indicated it would not be in favor of the sale or lease of town land to private entities.

The YMCA has announced its intention to move from its downtown location, which it has occupied since 1923, to its 30-acre Camp Mahackeno site near the Merritt Parkway’s exit 41 and build a 94,000-square foot facility.

At her weekly brown bag luncheon today, First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell was asked about the availability of the Baron’s South corner parcel and the Y’s possible use of it as well as possible use of the town-owned Imperial Avenue parking lot and Baldwin parking lot.

Farrell did not indicate any interest on the part of the town to purchase the land.

She said she did not favor selling or leasing municipal land to the Y, a private entity, and that it is entitled to use its Mahackeno land as it sees fit subject to the town’s zoning laws.

The land and buildings known as the Baron’s South is actually made up of seven parcels of land, five on South Compo Road and two on Imperial Avenue.

In 1867, at least part of this land was owned by the Winslow family who resided across the street in a mansion on what is now Winslow Park.

Over the years, pieces were sold off and houses built. In 1967, Baron von Langerdorff, founder of Evyan Perfumes, purchased the property.

He created the first American perfume, “White Shoulders,” in his laboratory located on the estate.

The property, a rolling woodland compound, had formal gardens and estate landscaping.

The Baron raised some exotic flowers in the gardens and green house for use in his perfumes created on the estate.

During Baron von Langerdorff’s ownership, the property was called “Golden Shadows,” along with the main Georgian-style brick house which still sits on the property.

Earlier this year, the town opened a new Center for Senior Activities on part of the site close to Imperial Avenue.

According to the Westport Historical Society, the house on the portion of the property being sold was originally a carriage barn and at one time was known as the Winslow-Staples House.

It was remodeled by Eloise Egan in 1932 as her residence. She sold it to the Baron in 1967.

Posted 05/05/04 at 08:20 PM

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