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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Westport Magazine Publisher Lays Off 18, Goes Bimonthly

Westport-based Moffly Publications said today it has laid off 18 staffers and will reduce the frequency for a number of its magazines, including Westport Magazine, the trade magazine FOLIO: reported.

The 18 staffers make up about 35 percent of its overall workforce, the report said.

Beginning with the January issues, Moffly’s Westport and New Canaan-Darien magazines will go from a monthly frequency to bimonthly . AtHome in Fairfield County will go from six issues per year to four, starting in 2009. Moffly’s Greenwich magazine will remain a monthly, according to FOLIO:.

According to CEO Jonathan Moffly, the company has been affected by the “collective belt-tightening” as a result of the down economy and, in turn, has accelerated its rebranding plans from Moffly Publications to Moffly Media, FOLIO: said.

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Posted 11:14 PM
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Westport’s Derma Clinic to Close Dec. 7

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Derma Clinic: Playhouse Square mainstay for 29 years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
UPDATE Westport’s Derma Clinic European Day Spa, a mainstay in Westport’s Playhouse Square shopping center for 29 years, announced today it will close on Dec. 7.

Patricia O’Regan Brown, founder and president, said in a statement it was with great regret that she was facing the reality that she must close the clinic. She cited the downturn in the economy and her current fragile health.

On Dec. 31, Derma Clinic filed for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, listing assets of $50,000 to $100,000 and liabilities of $100,000 to $500,000.

“When Derma Clinic opened its doors 29 years ago, it was the first and only Day Spa in Westport,” O’Regan Brown said.

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Posted 07:38 PM
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Westport Housing Starts Drop Along With National Statistics

New housing starts are down in Westport along with those in the nation.WestportNow.com Image
Of this year’s 64 Westport housing starts, 15 of them were part of the Bradley Lane development, shown here, in the Saugatuck area. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

So far this year, there have been 64 new housing starts in Westport, according to the Building Department, down almost 21 percent from a year ago when there were 81 in the comparable period. But even that figure is misleading.

“It’s noteworthy when you realize that 15 of the 64 starts are the condos on Bradley Lane, leaving only 49 single family starts,” a Building Department official said. That makes the drop 39.5 percent for single family homes, slightly higher than the national average.

On a national level, the government reported today that home construction took its fourth tumble in a row during October, falling 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 791,000 annual rate, after falling a revised 3.0 percent in September.

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Posted 09:10 PM
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Y Building AKA Bedford Square Plans Unveiled

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Representatives of the developers of the current Westport Weston Family Y building in Westport center today unveiled plans for the property that include retail shops, restaurants, condominiums, and a piazza public space with fountain. The presentation before the town’s Plan Implementation Committee included display of a model of the new 110,000-square foot complex to be known as Bedford Square. Developer David Waldman of Westport estimated the project would add about $100 million in value to Westport’s grand list. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 03:32 PM
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Gourmet Delights at Chamber Social Event

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Chef Pietro Scotti of Westport’s Zest Restaurant contributed gourmet delights in support of the combined Westport and Fairfield Chambers of Commerce social networking event tonight at Aitoro’s Appliance store in Norwalk. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 01:42 AM
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frustration With Shaw’s Led to Talks With New Tenant

By Dave Matlow
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Jay Kowalsky: “Shaw’s is rundown.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Frustration with the repeated failure by supermarket tenant Shaw’s to upgrade its Westport store led to a decision not to renew its lease and negotiate with a new tenant,The Fresh Market, a specialty grocer, according to the owners of the Post Road East shopping plaza.

Jay Kowalsky, president and treasurer of Kowalsky Real Estate owned by the longtime Westport Kowalsky family, said he had been talking with Shaw’s and prior owner Grand Union for 10 years about updating and modernizing the store.

“Shaw’s is rundown,” he said. “The current and prior owners have been talking about remodeling for around 10 years and nothing is happening.”

Kowalsky said he had been in talks with The Fresh Market, an 84-store chain based in Greensboro, N.C., for about three months.

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Posted 06:34 PM
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Shaw’s to Close, Replaced by New Food Retailer

UPDATE Westport’s Shaw’s Supermarket on Post Road East will close on Jan. 10, a company spokeswoman said today. The shopping center owner said a new food retailer, The Fresh Market, is expected to take its place in about a year.WestportNow.com Image
Shaw’s will close on Jan. 10 with a new food retailer reported likely to take its place in about a year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The West Bridgewater, Mass.-based company has been the anchor tenant in the shopping center at 605 Post Road East since taking over from Grand Union in 2001.

Judy Chond, a Shaw’s spokeswoman, confirmed a WestportNow report of a January closing and said the store will shut down Jan. 10 with about 90 employees affected.

“We worked diligently with the property owner but could not come to a mutually acceptable agreement,” she said.

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Posted 05:36 AM
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Saturday, November 01, 2008

NY Times: Economic Hard Times Hit Westport Too

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The New York Times Sunday Connecticut section focuses on the effects of the weakened economy on Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
In a front page story and pictures filling half a page, the Sunday New York Times Connecticut section says the effects of the battered U.S. economy are being felt in Westport too.

Under the headline “In a Wealthy Town, ‘It’s Not Like It Was,” the newspaper said, “For a while, this wealthy town on Long Island Sound seemed insulated from the nation’s economic woes, but all that changed six weeks ago with the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent tsunami on Wall Street.”

The Times added: “Merchants in this posh community 47 miles from Midtown Manhattan are feeling the low rumblings of an economy that is readjusting to the events of the last few weeks.”

The 1,300-word story with four pictures noted that with a median family income of $152,894 — well above the state median of $65,521, according to the 2000 United States Census — “Westport exemplifies the good life, one that has been largely financed by profits on Wall Street.”

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Posted 07:30 PM
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Junior Achievement Does Halloween Business

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Two members of the Junior Achievement Club at Staples High School presented First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff with a candy-filled pumpkin, one of the products produced by their company named Klox (“always moving forward”). Pictured are Lindsey Runkel, 17, and Hayden Meinero, 17. The company, under the sponsorship of Westport’s Terex Corporation, sold almost 100 Halloween products and is working on hot chocolate kits as its next product. More than two dozen Staples students are involved in the company. They meet weekly with Terex executives who coach them on their business. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 08:38 PM
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Large Trees Removed as Bank Clears Property

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Workers preparing a new site for a branch of Fairfield County Bank at Post Road East and Compo Road South removed some large trees on the property today. The bank said in a statement its design calls for “conservation and protection of many of the trees now located on the property.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 07:48 PM
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Fairfield County Bank: “We Will Rebuild Smaller Brick Wall”

Fairfield County Bank today released an artist’s rendering of its new Westport branch at Post Road East and Compo Road South and said it intends to rebuild a brick wall—but on a smaller scale—that had long surrounded the property.WestportNow.com Image
An artist’s rendering of the new Fairfield County Bank branch at Post Road East and Compo Road South in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“As a part of the site preparation, the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) required the brick wall that stands on the property be removed because DOT had determined the wall was too high and obstructed vehicles sight line, potentially creating a safety issue,” the bank said in a statement.

“The brick wall will be replaced with a new brick wall which will be four feet high and will closely match the former wall. The bank is committed to creating a building that reflects the character of Westport.”

A picture on WestportNow of the destroyed wall had drawn criticism from readers, some of whom said they had no intention of doing business with the bank as a result. (See WestportNow Oct. 21, 2008)

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Posted 07:06 PM
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gut Check: Crumbs Bake Shop to Open in Westport

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Crumbs Bake Shop will open a Westport branch next March on Taylor Place behind Tiffany’s.

An application for renovations to the building has been filed with town officials.

Crumbs Bake Shop first opened its doors in March of 2003 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.There are 21 branches open or soon to open in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

The Westport store will be the third in Connecticut. A branch opened in Stamford this month and another will open in New Canaan in January.

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Posted 10:04 PM
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Ex-Merrill Lynch Westport Team Sets Up Own Firm

A four-person team that managed nearly $1 billion in client assets has left Merrill Lynch to launch a new independent firm in Westport.

The team members—Bill Loftus, Bill Lomus, Kevin Burns and Jim Pratt-Heaney—made the jump following last month’s announcement that Bank of America is buying Merrill Lynch in a $50 billion deal. Thousands of Merrill employees may lose their jobs as a result.

The team, formerly known as the LLBH Group of Merrill Lynch, will now be principals at the new firm, LLBH Group Private Wealth Management.

Loftus will head corporate executive services, lending and alternative investment operations; Burns will run client asset acquisition and client service and contact; Pratt-Heaney will be responsible for asset management; and Lomus, a CFP, will oversee the investment planning process.

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Posted 08:58 PM
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Newman’s Own Enters Frozen Pizza Market

Newman’s Own is entering the frozen pizza business.WestportNow.com Image
From salad bowl to pizza pan. Contributed photo

An announcement from the Westport-based company said it has launched products in the premium segment of the frozen pizza market that are a “compelling, all-natural choice, competitively priced with the other national frozen pizza brands.”

The roll out of Newman’s Own Thin and Crispy frozen pizza began this month in five test markets and is part of a growth strategy “to focus on what consumers want: convenient, all-natural meal solutions,” the company said.

The pizza quartet is available in four adult/kid-friendly varieties—Supreme; Four Cheese; Roasted Garlic and Chicken; and Uncured Pepperoni.

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Posted 12:33 AM
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Westport’s Greenwood Publishing to Close, 150 Jobs Cut

UPDATE Greenwood Publishing Group, a Westport presence for four decades, will close in December and about 150 employees will be terminated, according to a source at parent company Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). WestportNow.com Image
Sam Bell, the owner of 88 Post Road West where Greenwood Publishing is located, said he has heard that some of its 150 workers will be offered jobs in Santa Barbara, Calif., or in Colorado. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The closure of the office at 88 Post Road West follows an announcement last week that HMH has reached a deal with ABC-CLIO that gives the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company a perpetual license to use the imprints and publish the titles of Greenwood.

No financial terms were disclosed for the deal involving Greenwood Press, Praeger Publishers, Praeger Security International, and Libraries Unlimited.

Layoffs are scheduled to begin the first week in December, the source said.

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Posted 10:40 PM
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