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Friday, September 30, 2016

CT Budget Closes in Deficit Again; Little Reserves Left for This Year

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut today officially closed its second consecutive fiscal year in deficit, shrinking its budget reserve to a low level as threats of another shortfall loom.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo certified a $170.4 million deficit for the 2015-16 fiscal year, a gap equal to 1.5 percent of General Fund spending. (Though the last fiscal year ended June 30, the comptroller cannot close the books until late September, since certain tax receipts received over the summer are applied to the prior budget.)

Lembo must again cover the deficit by drawing from the rainy day fund, which will be left with just $235.6 million. The new reserve is less than half of what Connecticut had before the consecutive annual deficits. More importantly it leaves Connecticut with a fiscal cushion equal to just 1.3 percent of annual operating costs.

The comptroller recommends a rainy day fund of 15 percent, given the large fluctuations in state income tax receipts Connecticut traditionally faces in very good and very poor economic times.

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09/30/16 05:56 PM Comments (2) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, September 29, 2016

P&Z Says Yes to Elm Street Land Swap

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight voted 6 to 0 with 1 abstention to give a positive report on a planned Elm Street land swap that would net the town nine additional parking spaces downtown.

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This building housing the Villa Del Sol Restaurant at 35 Elm St. would be razed and swapped for part of the town-owned parking lot across the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The positive report is the first step allowing developer David Waldman to put up a $7 million building on a piece of the town’s Baldwin Parking Lot at 36 Elm St. in exchange for property he has an option to buy at 35 Elm St. across the street.

Waldman, principal of David Adam Realty who is heading the nearby Bedford Square Pproject, also owns the historic Kemper Gunn House relocated to the town lot three years ago.

Frist Selectman Jim Marpe has been supporting the land swap and two weeks ago requested a positive P&Z endorsement. Marpe has been bullish on the plan since the town would gain nine parking space in the parking-stressed downtown.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sikorsky Incentives Win Bipartisan Approval in Special Session

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut legislators today took a one-day break from re-election campaigns to give bipartisan blessing to a $220 million incentive deal for Lockheed Martin that would keep its Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary and production of its next generation of helicopters in a state desperate to keep its storied aerospace industry.

At a State Capitol inured to economic gloom, most legislators embraced the Sikorsky deal as a cause for celebration, a victory that promises to pump $69.2 billion into the economy over 14 years, while saving thousands of jobs at Sikorsky’s sprawling plant in Stratford and at more than 300 suppliers throughout the state.

“Competition in today’s worldwide economic climate is fierce, and Connecticut is showing that we remain a valued leader where businesses can maintain a competitive edge well into the future,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said after final passage.

Passage came on votes of 35-1 in the Senate and 136-6 in the House.

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09/28/16 06:25 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Comings & Goings: Sports Attic Opens

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Owner Gregory DiLenge stands outside his Sports Attic store which has opened at 26 Railroad Place. The store features both new and used sporting goods/gear. DeLenge, a former commodities trader, says it is based on the model of his family’s store in Westchester County. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/27/16 06:49 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Comings & Goings: Pier 1 Imports Closing

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Home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc. at Westport’s 1460 Post Road East will close at the end of October, according to a store employee. Signage at the entrance advertises discounts on inventory and reminds customers of other nearby Pier 1 stores in Fairfield, Norwalk and Danbury. Pier 1 Imports has been in Westport since 1974, first at 645 Post Road East. In the following years its locations included 950 Post Road East, now Men’s Wearhouse. The company announced in April 2015 it planned to close about 100 stores over the next three years, primarily through natural lease expirations and relocations. This, it said, is part of efforts to drive growth through its online platform, reduce occupancy and payroll costs, and improve efficiency. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/25/16 10:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, September 22, 2016

‘It Looks Wimpy to Pick on the Little Guy’

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Westporter Michael Gordon, chair of the Board of Education, was on the CNBC business cable channel today offering advice to CEOs on the hot seat at congressional hearings in recent days. They include John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, involved in a fake accounts scandal, and Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, maker of EpiPens, whose recent price increases have stirred controversy. “It looks wimpy to pick on the little guy,” said Gordon, whose firm Group Gordon offers public relations strategic services to some of the nation’s top firms. “Heads must roll,” he said. “You have to show real contrition and follow up with action ... Take responsibility and stop shifting blame.” He said firms in the congressional spotlight should offer up an ethics policy as part of their response. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from CNBC

09/22/16 02:39 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clarification on Property at 1620 Post Road East

A property at 1620 Post Road East, which houses Pane e Bene Italian restaurant, Stanton Miles power vacuum and home decorations store, Innovation Luggage, and Redi-Cut Carpeting, is for sale but has not been sold, according to its owner.

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The property at 1620 Post Road East is on the market, according to its owner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

In a Sept. 15 WestportNow Comings & Goings story about Stanton Miles moving, store co-owner Dave Kernstock was incorrectly quoted as saying “the building was recently purchased.”

What he actually said was “the building is being sold,” a fact confirmed by property owner Ernest Breiner, 91, of Fairfield, who says he has owned the property with his late brother since 1948.

Meanwhile, Angelo Capponi, co-owner of neighboring Pane e Bene said he had received “many calls and e-mails from the restaurant’s loyal clientele” expressing disappointment that it was leaving the site, which the WestportNow story did not state.

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09/21/16 05:06 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Elm Street Land Swap Gets More Praise Than Pushback

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight heard developer David Waldman’s proposed land swap on Elm Street—one that would allow him to put up a $7 million building on a piece of the town’s Baldwin Parking Lot in exchange for land across the street, netting the town nine additional parking spaces.

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The property at 36 Elm St. would be turned into a parking lot to be swapped for town-owned land in the Baldwin lot across the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Waldman, principal of David Adam Realty who is heading the nearby Bedford Square Pproject, also owns the historic Kemper Gunn House relocated to the town lot three years ago.

With Frist Selectman Jim Marpe supporting the land swap and requesting a positive P&Z endorsement, Waldman and his architect Rick Hoag detailed the plan. The P&Z took no action, but closed the hearing to later vote on the matter.

The proposal includes Waldman buying the Villa Del Sol building and property totaling .15449 acres at 36 Elm St., on which he has an option, for $6 million, including buying out the restaurant’s lease. He then plans to raze the building, making the area it into a parking lot.

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09/15/16 09:54 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Cutting the Ribbon at Vine Wine Room

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The Vine Wine Room had its official opening today at 190 Main St. in space formerly occupied by Luxe Wine Bar, which closed in April. Among those doing the honors: (l-r): co-owner Sammy Alanz, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) Board Member Adam Faillace, WWCC Executive Director Matthew Mandell, Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, and co-owner Heather Buchheit-Ferrari. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

09/15/16 08:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Marpe: Unsure How Bridgewater Layoffs Will Impact Town

Westpot First Selectman Jim Marpe, responding to reports of layoffs at Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund that is Westport’s largest private employer, said today it is too early to determine their impact.

Bridgewater is an important contributor to the local economy, “so we recognize that any changes they make could affect other parts of the Westport economy,” he said.

“That said, since they are still in the process of their organizational renovation, I have no way of knowing how that might affect Bridgewater’s presence in Westport,” Marpe said.

“I and other town officials remain in regular contact with Bridgewater leadership, and I appreciate their ongoing commitment to working with the town to accomplish their goals in a cooperative manner.”

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09/15/16 05:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Bridgewater Announces Layoffs

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund by assets and Westport’s largest private employer, has announced a firm-wide “renovation” that will include employee layoffs, according to someone familiar with the matter, CNBC reported today.

In a letter to clients, officials at the $150 billion-asset company said it was “digging into the areas of inefficiency to improve them” as part of a “renovation to improve efficiencies at Bridgewater,” the cable business news network reported.

That process will involve “significant changes to people, processes, and technologies,” it added.

At a town hall meeting held earlier today, Bridgewater executives warned that those changes would include layoffs. Business Insider published the letter, and reported on the plans, at midday, CNBC said.

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09/15/16 01:33 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings & Goings: Stanton Miles Moving

UPDATE Stanton Miles, the home decorating and power vacuum service and sales store, 1620 Post Road East, between Pane e bene restaurant and Innovation Luggage, will relocate to 1803 Post Road East on Nov. 1, according to co-owner Dave Kernstock.

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Stanton MIles is moving from its current location after 45 years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

He and Mike Rowland acquired the business in 2004.

“The building is being sold,” Kernstock said. “We’ve been on a month-to-month lease since April, so we decided to be proactive and move now.”

He said Stanton Miles has been in Westport for 65 years, its first 20 years located in the space of the current nearby Dunkin Donuts,1533 Post Road East, before moving to its current location 45 years ago.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Municipalities Say CT Property Tax System ‘Unsustainable’

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Just days after a landmark state court ruling found Connecticut’s education funding system to be “irrational and unconstitutional,” the chief lobbying group for cities and towns today issued a new research paper calling the municipal property tax system “unsustainable.”

The report from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities urges state legislators to take several steps, including expanding the variety of taxes communities can collect and committing to promised sharing of state sales tax receipts despite big projected deficit in the next state budget.

“It is increasingly clear that relying on the property tax to fund local government services in Connecticut is unsustainable,” the report states. “… Connecticut’s towns and cities rely on the property tax to fund the majority of local services. It is basically ‘the only game in town.’”

The property tax is the chief revenue source for most municipalities, with 71 percent, on average, coming from property taxpayers. The second-largest source of funding is state grants. Using those funds, cities and towns provide a wide array of services including elementary and secondary education; public safety; infrastructure maintenance; recreation, and social services.

Click here for more of story:

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

California Firm Acquires Westport Resources Management

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John Vaccaro: named United Capital managing director. Contributed photo

The private client group of Westport-based Westport Resources Management, headed by John Vaccaro, has been acquired by United Capital Financial Advisors LLC, it was announced today.

No amount was given for the acquisition by United Capital, which is based in Newport Beach, Calif. The group will be renamed Westport Resources, a division of United Capital. Westport Resources manages $373 million of assets tied to high-net-worth individuals

United Capital has about $16.8 billion of assets and centralizes the compliance, billing and information technology of the wealth management firms it buys. In addition to the new Westport operation, United Capital also maintains an office in South Norwalk.

Vaccaro, 71, the firm’s CEO and founder, has joined United Capital as a managing director, an announcement said.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Comings & Goings: Fountain of Youth Closes Retail Outlet

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Fountain of Youth, a health organic market located at 1789 Post Rod East in the Westfair Shopping Center opposite Stop & Shop, has closed its retail store. Owners John and Kay Moretti, Westport residents, said their store, in the same location since 1983, has been driven out of business by the internet, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and others who also sell natural food products. “We were here before what we do became mainstream,” said John Moretti. “Marlo Thomas and Paul Newman were among our frequent customers.”  He added, “We’re not going out of business, just closing this shop. Our customers can still purchase our products by calling us at the same phone number, (203)259-9378. We’re doing mail order and, if local, one-hour delivery service.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/01/16 03:59 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Comings & Goings: Donut Crazy to Train Station

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Donut Crazy will open at the eastbound side of Metro-North’s Westport station in Saugatuck around Oct. 1, according to Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas, pending approval of the Board of Selectman on Thursday. The store replaces Steam, which opened in January 2014 and closed in March this year. Donut Crazy, founded by Jason Wojnarowski, currently operates shops in Shelton, Stratford, and Bridgeport and plans to open in New Haven this fall, according to Koskinas. It offers coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino and latte, juice and an assortment of takeout foods in addition to its wide range of donuts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

08/21/16 03:56 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Comings & Goings: The Groove on the Move

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The Groove, a children’s apparel and gift store, which opened at 420 Post Road West, across from Whole Foods, in October 2012, has moved a few doors away to a much larger space in a location previously occupied by a branch of Hudson Valley Bank. According to owner Corri Neckritz (above) the newly expanded store, which opens on Monday, has 3,000 square feet compared to approximately 1,300 square feet in the store being vacated.  She added that a customer appreciation event, a 50 percent sale on most merchandise, will soon be in effect in the former space before it closes. She said the range of offerings addresses apparel needs of babies, teens and adults. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/20/16 02:01 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Final Order at Westport’s Kibberia

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Today was the final day of business for Kibberia Restaurant and Café, 361 Post Road West, and Westport resident Wendy Levy showed up for a final order, served by employee Alia Metke, a 2015 Staples High School graduate.  Nick Iskandar. an owner of the eat-in and takeout restaurant specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, said Thursday it was closing because its lease expired and “we cannot continue with the current costs of doing business in Westport.” Levy said she was one of its first customers three years ago and had frequented the Kibberia restaurant in Danbury. “When i read on WestportNow about the planned closing, I wanted to come here just one last time,” she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/19/16 05:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Comings & Goings: Kibberia Closing

By Dave Matlow

Kibberia, an eat-in and takeout restaurant specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine at 361 Post Road West, will close at the end of the business day Friday, according to owner Nick Iskandar.

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Kibberia owner Nick Iskandar said: “Were very sorry to leave.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Iskandar, with brother Sam and sister-in-law Carole as chef, opened the restaurant in July 2013 in the space previously occupied by John’s Best Pizza.  They also own a restaurant by the same name in Danbury.

“Our lease expired and we cannot continue with the current costs of doing business in Westport,” Nick Iskander said.

“Our business volume is good.  if we were doing this amount of business in Danbury, for instance, we could continue because our costs are much lower there, but doing business in the Westport area is very expensive. We just cannot continue.” 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Letter: Developer Says Nothing to Show for ‘Good Intentions’

To the Editor:

I have lived in Westport for 25 years and am president of SIR Development, LLC a new construction luxury home builder. I have noted that historic structures and their place in this town have been a constant debate.

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This house at 25 Center St. was the subject of lengthy negotiations with developer Rob Haroun and the town. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

During this time, hundreds of older homes have been demolished to make room for larger ones leaving a small inventory of older structures that retain the character of yesteryear. Some efforts have been made to create incentive programs for saving these structures through the existing 32–18 zoning regulations, but clearly the existing regulations fall short.

After seeing that 32-18 was deficient, we embarked on an effort to amend Section 32-18. With a specific property in mind, 25 Center St., we saw an opportunity to save an historic structure and provide a win-win for both the town and preservationists.

Knowing that the process was quite protracted, we proceeded in good faith with the town and the community to accomplish this goal.

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Comings & Goings: Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses Closing

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Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses, 141 Post Road East, will close at the end of the week according to owner Dave Spittal. “We may open another store in the Westport area, maybe New Canaan, Stamford or Greenwich,” he said. He said the Westport store, which opened in September 2012 “is the worst of all our stores—it may be the parking, the model just did not work for us in Westport.” Healthy Choice Organic Mattresses stores are located in New York, Mt. Kisco,  and Beacon, N.Y., Ridgewood and Summit, N.J., as well as Boston. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Comings & Goings: Vine Wine Room Opens

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Vine Wine Room has opened at 190 Main St. in sspace formerly occupied by Luxe Wine Bar, which closed in April. Owner Sammy Alanz and partner Heather Buchheit-Ferrari. Trumbull residents, said this is a soft opening and a grand opening is planned for mid-September. According to Buchheit-Ferrari, the restaurant, which seats 30 inside and 16 on the patio, offers a full bar, appetizers, small plates and plans to add a raw bar. Alanz said menu offerings will expand. Hours are Monday to Thursday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/09/16 05:26 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, August 05, 2016

Sub $2 Gas Draws Crowd

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Westport Sunoco, 322 Post Road East, was jammed today as gas prices felll below the $2 level—- $1.97/cash. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Comings & Goings: A.S. Fine Foods to PRW

By Dave Matlow

A.S Fine Foods of Westport will open in October at 361 Post Road West, according to co-owner Albert Pizzirusso, a Westporter.

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A.S. Fine Foods will open at 361 Post Road West in October. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The location is in the shopping strip anchored on the east end by People’s United Bank and Kibberia Middle Eastern restaurant on the west. 

Pizzirusso, a Westport resident for the past 15 years and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), class of 1992, is co-owner with Erik Cohen.

Pizzirusso said for 10 years following his graduation from CIA he worked at first class eateries in New York including Four Seasons, Rainbow Room and the Ritz Carlton. 

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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

State Offers Reassurances Over Aid to Bridgewater

By Keith M.Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The state Department of Economic and Community Development has responded with reassurances to a recent news report that Westport’s Bridgewater Associates — to which Connecticut just pledged $52 million in economic assistance — is slowing its hiring.

DECD spokesman Jim Watson said that the hedge fund still must comply with several job retention and creation benchmarks over the next five years, or risk the loss of as much as $17 million.

“All companies in all industries are subject to business fluctuations,” Watson said in a statement. “All experience periods of acceleration and slowdowns in hiring. DECD recognizes that fact and takes a longer-term approach in its agreements with companies.”

The state committed $22 million in bonding on May 27 to help the fund – which manages about $150 billion in assets – expand facilities in Westport, Wilton and Norwalk.

Click here for more of story

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Comings & Goings: New Eatery at Old Town Hall

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Bill Taibe and partner Massimo Tullio are planning a new restaurant in Westport’s Old Town Hall, 90 Post Road East. Taibe, who brought Le Farm, The Whelk, and Kawa Ni to Westport, is not certain of the format but, according to ctbites.com, he suggested the new menu might be “a celebration of classic tavern grub and drink.” Opening is projected for sometime late this year. The space was formerly occupied by Spruce Home & Garden. The lower level of the building houses Rothbard Ale + Lager, which describes itself as a “premiere European Gastropub,” offering dishes and drinks inspired by the Central European regions. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/02/16 02:07 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, August 01, 2016

Nostalgic Visit

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It was a nostalgic visit today to the now shuttered Oscar’s on Main Street for sisters (l-r) Ali Pappageorge, 44, and Melissa, 41, With them was Melissa’s daughter Taylor, 15, an 11th grade student at Fairfield’s Ludlowe High School. Melissa said her father, Lee, Oscar’s owner, is getting stronger every day at Yale-New Haven Hospital where he is battling lung cancer. A real estate sign saying the space is available for lease went up in the front window today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

08/01/16 11:55 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Landmark Gone Dark

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Oscar’s was almost hard to recognize late Sunday night after its Westport Main Street closing earlier in the day after 42 years. A sign on the front door gave a phone number for “any inquiries/vendor questions.”  A Facebook posting said: “Our family would like to thank all of our supportive customers. You held us up today, and we want to thank you for that.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

08/01/16 12:15 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, July 29, 2016

Oscar’s: Main Street Icon for 42 Years

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Tonight’s announced closing on Monday of Oscar’s Deli marks the end of a 42-year run for the Main Street icon and the last mom and pop store on the street. Owner Lee Papageorge, a nonsmoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer several months ago and is undergoing treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

07/29/16 11:18 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Name, Logo, for Westport’s Oldest Business

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There is a new name and logo for Westport’s Gault Energy & Stone, Westport’s oldest business. Founded in 1863, the company today unveiled a new name – Gault Family Companies – and said the new “G” logo reflects its rebranded lines of businesses—Energy & Home Solutions, Stone & Landscape Supplies, and Properties & Development. “Our new logo and expanded corporate structure captures our rich history and reveals our ambitious plans for the future,” said Sam Gault, the fifth generation Gault to head the company. Pictured with Gault (c ) are (l-r) Megan Donaher, sales coordinator and sixth generation, Bill Gault, chairman of the board and fourth generation, Meredith Donaher, marketing director and sixth generation, and Jim Donaher, vice president, fifth generation and father of Megan and Meredith. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

07/28/16 02:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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