Wednesday, April 30, 2014
By Dave Matlow
After almost 73 years, Westport’s Daybreak Nurseries has closed and a builder who purchased the 2.2-acre property in a foreclosure sale says he plans to build four homes on the site.
Peter Greenberg, owner of Norwalk-based Able Construction, said he purchased the property at 500 Main St. for $1,350,000 as the highest bidder in a foreclosure settlement in February.
He said the 2.2-acre property is comprised of four lots on which he plans to build four single-family homes limited to .5-acre each.
He said the zoning is grandfathered from the early 1940s for residential use with limitations. Greenberg said he is exploring other variations that may include a segment for commercial use.
Greenberg said a limiting factor in expanding to commercial use is a potential requirement for sewer installation.
“The path of least resistance is to build the single family houses,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said he has engaged in preliminary discussions with zoning authorities to clarify guidelines for proceeding with construction planning.
He said the late Evan H. Harding and his family had owned Daybreak Nurseries since 1941.
According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, Harding was three months off a ship from his native Wales when he opened Daybreak Nurseries on schedule on Dec. 7, 1941, despite the cataclysmic events of that day.
Harding was long active in Westport community affairs, including two decades on the Planning and Zoning Commission. He died in 2000 at the age of 93.
Evan Harding Point at Longshore Club Park is named after him as is the Parker-Harding parking area in Westport’s center, which also commemorates former Selectman Emerson F. Parker.
The nursery had fallen on hard times in recent years, owing thousands of dollars in back real estate taxes, according to public records.
It also had disputes with neighbors and the town over log splitting, topsoil sifting, and a kiln to dry firewood that periodically produced heavy smoke over the area.
But, under David Harding, Evan’s son, it managed to stay in business until early this year, selling flowers, shrubs, trees, firewood, and, in season, Christmas trees.
Posted 04/30/14 at 10:00 AM
Always sad to see a longtime business close. Best of luck to the Harding family and to Mr. Greenberg. I’m hoping Able Construction and the town take special precautions with environmental checks and clean-up, if necessary, as safety protocol for nursery chemicals was iffy for many decades, and we want those new houses to be as safe as they will be beautiful.
For many years Evan Harding, his entire family and their Daybreak Nursery offered so much to me, my family and the entire Town of Westport . They were a vital part of the community.
My best wishes and all the best to all of the Hardings. Your active presence will be missed.