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Thursday, November 20, 2014

CT Gains Jobs in October but Unemployment Rate Remains Fixed

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut’s jobless rate remained fixed at 6.4 percent in October, despite the addition of about 3,600 new jobs, the state Department of Labor reported today.

The agency’s latest report also downgraded job growth estimates it had released two weeks before Election Day. Back on Oct. 20, labor officials said Connecticut gained 11,500 jobs in September, it’s single-largest monthly gain since April 1994. But Thursday it revised the September gain downward by 1,000 jobs to 10,500.

“Connecticut’s job market continues to steadily add jobs this year at its best pace since the recovery began, and that growth seems to be drawing more people into the labor force,” said Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research.

“These numbers are another sign of progress,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today.  ” ... We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure Connecticut remains on a path towards an economic revival.  By working with the business community on expanding their operations or relocating to our state, we are putting Connecticut on the path to long-term prosperity.”

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Posted 01:27 PM
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Comings & Goings: Froyoworld Westport Closes

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Froyoworld Westport has closed at 361 Post Road West in the shopping center once anchored for many years by the also closed John’s Best. Froyoworld opened in June 2012, one of a wave of frozen yogurt shops that opened about that time. (See WestportNow June 18, 2012)  Froyoworld’s closure follows the closing of Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt, 113 Post Road East, last June and the more recent closing of Peachwave Yogurt at 170 Post Road West. (See WestportNow June 10, 2014) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

Posted 04:57 PM
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Friday, November 14, 2014

It’s official: CT’s Budget is $89M to $100M in the Red

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE The state budget received its first official deficit reports today when nonpartisan legislative analysts and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration projected shortfalls ranging from $89 million to just under $100 million.

And while the administration issued the larger of the two deficit forecasts—$99.5 million—budget director Benjamin Barnes, insisted it quickly would be closed, and reasserted Malloy’s insistence that tax hikes are not an option.

“This is consistent with what the administration has been saying,” Barnes said, “that no matter what the projections are, we will manage and administer the budget so that there will be no deficit. It is important to remember that this is a prediction of what would happen now and in the future should we do nothing—and doing nothing is not an option.”

More than half of the deficits projected both by the governor’s staff and by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis stems from declining revenues, particularly involving receipts from Indian casinos and federal grants.

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Posted 04:38 PM
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drew Friedman Sells Main St. Property for $9.2 Million

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE (adds sale recorded) Disillusioned by town zoning laws and with interests elsewhere, longtime Westport landlord-developer Drew Friedman after 31 years has sold his two-story building at 36-42 Main St., home to Bobby Q’s, formerly Onion Alley, for $9.2 million.

WestportNow.com Image
The two-story building at 36-42 Main St., built in the 1930, was acquired by Drew Friedman in 1983. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The sale, completed today, was to Forstone Capital, LLC, a Darien-based real estate investment firm that also owns 1365-1391 Post Road East, the site of Anthropologie and the building that houses Balducci’s, Friedman said.  One of Forstone’s principals, Brandon Hall, lives in Westport.

The $9.2 million sale was recorded Friday in the Town Clerk’s Office, said Town Clerk Patricia Strauss.

HK Group, a Westport-based commercial real estate group that brokered the transaction, announced the sale of the 9,982-square-foot, 1930-built property on .2-acres today but did not mention the buyer or the sales price.

More "Drew Friedman Sells Main St. Property for $9.2 Million"

Posted 09:22 PM
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Malloy to Order Emergency Cuts, Hiring Freeze

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

To reverse an impending state budget deficit, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration has told agencies it will order emergency spending cuts and freeze all-but-critical hiring to offset an impending budget deficit.

The move prompted concerns today from both private- and public-sector unions that this would stymie Malloy’s big initiative to expand Department of Transportation professional staff and, in turn, to launch more highway, bridge and rail construction work.

In a memo sent late Wednesday to all agency heads, the governor’s budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes also reinforced existing caps on overtime work.

Current budget trends, including both shrinking revenues and cost-overruns in various agencies “will ... result in a general fund deficit if management actions are not taken right away,” Barnes wrote.

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Posted 06:44 PM
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Comings & Goings: Positano’s to Playhouse Campus

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Positano’s Restaurant, a mainstay at Westport’s Old Mill Beach for 13 years, will move in February to the Westport Country Playhouse campus in a building occupied until last February by the Dressing Room Restaurant, (See WestportNow Feb. 1, 2014), the Playhouse announced today. The Positano property changed hands in September for $2 million. Positano’s will close on Dec. 31 at its current location. It is unclear whether it will remain a restaurant or become a residential building.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 12:34 PM
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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Comings & Goings: Kawa Ni to Bridge Square

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Kawa Ni, described by co-owner Massimo Tullio as a Japanese bistro, has opened at Westport’s Bridge Square in the Saugatuck area. Tullio, who with Bill Taibe owns the popular Westport eateries The Whelk, 575 Riverside Ave., and Le Barn, 256 Post Road East, said the Japanese bistro concept is designed after Japan’s traditional pub-style Izakaya with the exception that the portions at Kawa Ni are slightly larger.  “Some people view this as Japanese tapas,” he said. “We feature a range of Japanese cuisine favorites including Men (noodles), Onigiri (rice cakes) and Donburi (rice bowls). “For many it’s often a pre-dinner culinary treat so we avoid heavy soy sauce which is filling, instead we serve pickled cabbage that has salt levels well below soy sauce which is often bloating.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 03:08 PM
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Post Road West Office Building Sold for $13 Million

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An office building at 276 Post Road West changed hands Friday for $13,066,666, according to the Westport Town Clerk’s Office. The fully–leased 32,873-square foot office property, built in 1987, is located on 2.93 acres of land and last changed hands in 2002 for $7.5 million, according to Town of Westport records. Westport-based HK Group was the only broker in the transaction. Buyer was an LLC owned by New York-based Gerard Alexander Family Holdings and seller was an LLC owned by Paragon Management Group, one of the tenants in the building. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 11:15 AM
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Monday, November 03, 2014

Comings & Goings: Jeera Little Thai Kitchen to Post Road East

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Jeera, Little Thai Kitchen, will open at 165 Post Road East, next to Finalmente Trattoria, within a month, according to owner Darapon Souri Vong (above). A Branford resident who said her friends call her by her nickname, Pook, she said she also operates a restaurant by the same name in New Haven, which she opened three years ago. “I learned my cooking skills and the restaurant business from my parents,” she said, adding she worked for 10 years at their Thai restaurant in Guilford.  Souri Vong said the 900-square foot restaurant will, in addition to have seating for 20 to 30, offer take-out and catering services. “Our specialties are curry and noodle dishes,” she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 09:37 PM
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Comings & Goings: Crumbs Bake Shop Reopens

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Crumbs Bake Shop has reopened on Westport’s Taylor Place opposite the Westport Library after having suddenly closed in July when the firm declared bankruptcy (see WestportNow, July 8, 2014.)  An employee said that a grand reopening celebration is planned but the date has not yet been announced. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 04:46 PM
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Comings & Goings: Bonjo Coffee Bar to Railroad Place

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Bonjo Coffee Bar opened today at Railroad Place across from the Westport Metro-North station in the space previously occupied by Cocoa Michele. The new eatery will serve coffee from freshly roasted beans plus pastries and bagels. Hours are Monday through Friday 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information, go to www.bonjocoffee.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

Posted 01:19 PM
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Comings & Goings: Wheels Open on Post Road East

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Wheels Convenience Store, owned by Trumbull-based Consumers Petroleum, has opened at its CITGO-branded location at 786 Post Road East. (See WestportNow Sept. 8, 2014) An announcement said the business tries to support other area businesses and entrepreneurs and noted it would offer products from Westport-based snack food company Nothin’ But Foods. It said it invites the community for a sampling on Nov. 7. Westport is Wheels’ 20th outlet in the state with other nearby sites in Norwalk, Wilton, and Fairfield. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 11:46 AM
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Comings & Goings: Norma’s Barbershop to Myrtle Ave.

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Norma’s Barbershop & Salon has opened at 8 Myrtle Ave. at the intersection of Post Road East in the space previously occupied by Gigi Skin Care. Owner Norma Hayo, a Norwalk resident, said she caters to both men and women and also offers custom wigs and toupees. The shop is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 11:21 AM
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Comings & Goings: Athleta to Open Before Thanksgiving

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Athleta, a division of GAP Inc, opens at 103-07 Main St. before Thanksgiving, according to a worker on site today who said the construction shell covering the front of the store was removed Thursday. The new store was constructed in the spaces previously occupied by Westport Pizzeria, Kate Spade and Francois du Pont Jewelers, which have all relocated elsewhere. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 09:48 AM
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Developer Wants Inn to Become 200-Unit Housing Complex

By James Lomuscio

A developer has submitted plans for five-story, 200-unit housing complex at the site of the Westport Inn on Post Road East. Thirty percent of the units would be deemed affordable.

WestportNow.com Image
Under submitted plans, the Westport Inn on Post Road East would be replaced by a 200-unit housing complex. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The submission has raised concerns that use of state statute 8-30g to build it will not only allow the developer to bypass town zoning regulations, but put stress on town services and traffic, all in the name of affordable housing.

Sheldon Stein, who bought the inn seven years ago, submitted applications to the Conservation Commission last week and to the Planning & Zoning Department on Thursday, with maps and engineering reports. The designs choreograph razing of the 127-room hotel at 1595 Post Road East, replacing it with a 200-unit, multi-family residential community dubbed Westport Terrace Views.

The construction would take place through use of state statute 8-30g. Passed in 1989, it allows developers to overstep a municipality’s local zoning laws if that municipality does not have 10 percent of its housing stock classified as affordable, which Westport does not. It is intended to be an incentive to create more affordable housing in the state.

More "Developer Wants Inn to Become 200-Unit Housing Complex"

Posted 06:26 PM
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