Thursday, March 10, 2016
Lester’s boutique department store celebrated its grand opening today at 606 Post Road East in the space formerly occupied by Wish List. According to store manager Andrea Forbes, who also manages the company’s Rye Brook, N.Y. store, the Westport location features clothing, shoes and accessories for girls aged 4-14, teens, tweens, juniors and contemporary styles for women. “We call the 3,500-square foot Westport store ‘Lester’s Lite’ because it is smaller than our other stores, which are mostly around 10,000 square feet,” said Forbes. “Westport fits our demographic profile, and many of our Rye Brook customers drive there from Connecticut towns.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Westport’s Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund that is the town’s largest private employer, announced today it is getting a former Apple techie as co-CEO.
Jon Rubinstein, who helped oversee the development of the iMac and iPod at Apple, will formally join the firm in May, the company told clients.
He replaces Greg Jensen as part of the 10-year transition from founder Ray Dalio to lead the world’s biggest hedge fund.
Jensen, a 20-year veteran of the firm, remains as co-chief investment officer alongside Dalio and his longtime partner, Bob Prince.
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
Heads Up Westport - Concussion Center will soon open at 25 Imperial Ave. in Westport.
Co-owners are Westport physicians and residents Deborah Mogelof and Audrey Paul.
In addition to her work at the new business, Mogelof said she will remain associated with Westport Urgent Care, 1045 Post Road East, where she has served as a director for the past three years. Paul is a pediatric emergency medicine physician.
“Our practice will provide baseline ImPact (concussion) testing for children 10 and over,” said Mogelof. She said this is something the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.
Tuesday, March 08, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today signaled an intention to lay off state employees in the current fiscal year, saying the workforce must shrink substantially, and that the process must begin before the fiscal year ends on June 30.
Malloy, who spoke to reporters after a meeting with legislative leaders, chose his words carefully when pressed about the scope of coming layoffs, referring to the damages the state had to pay over former Gov. John G. Rowland’s mishandling of layoffs a dozen years ago.
“I don’t want to give to some future governor the Rowland problem, right? So those numbers are being worked out, and we have to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t,’ but they’re substantial,” he said.
The governor was referring to about 2,800 pink slips the Rowland administration issued in late 2002 to help close a major state budget deficit. Unions sued in federal court, and the settlement reached 11 years later will cost the state an estimated $100 million to $125 million. It was structured to minimize the fiscal impact on the state by compensating a majority of the plaintiffs with extra vacation and personal days, not cash.
The Cake Box has opened at 10 Bay St., behind the former Post 154 Restaurant. It specializes in cupcakes as well as cakes for birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions. Robert Byrnes, a Ridgefield resident, who co-owns the business with his wife, Jordan Gregory, also own two bakeries in Ridgefield. Gregory Neil, manager of the Westport store, shows off some of the offerings. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today—for the second time in five months—challenged legislative leaders to offer alternative spending cuts rather than complain about his decision to suspend payments to hospitals to mitigate the state budget deficit.
The Democratic governor took heat from legislators from both parties last week after he suspended about $140 million in payments earmarked for hospitals in connection with the state’s health care provider tax. The governor also is withholding $3.89 million in payments for community health centers.
State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo certified a nearly $220 million general fund deficit last week for the fiscal year that ends June 30. And the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis places the shortfall at slightly more, $266 million.
Most of the this deficit is caused by eroding state income tax receipts identified in projections issued in late February.
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut’s labor leaders insist the writing is on the wall.
Barring a dramatic new development, they say, state employees will be asked to grant wage and benefit concessions for the third time in seven years.
Perhaps the request will come this spring. Perhaps it will come in 2017 — just after the next state election. In some smaller ways it already has begun.
But that doesn’t mean that workers are ready to endorse more givebacks.
Friday, February 26, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneuf and Arielle Levin Beckerwww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration confirmed today the downward trend in state revenues — though not the precise numbers — that nonpartisan analysts reported earlier this week.
While the governor never used the word “layoff,” he told reporters today that state government’s workforce must shrink considerably soon, and that the next state budget, for the 2016-17 fiscal year, still must be balanced without tax hikes.
And Malloy’s budget chief, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, told legislators today that the administration has been monitoring negative trends in state income tax receipts since mid-January. The administration’s decision not to report this before today prompted one Republican on the legislature’s tax-writing panel to call the choice “reprehensible.”
“I think there’s a bigger downside than there is an upside” to state tax revenues at this time, Malloy told reporters after a press conference to promote a constitutional amendment to protect state funding for transportation.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Westport Developer David Waldman was back before the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight to float a new idea to develop downtown’s Elm Street.
In an informal presentation to the body, Waldman sought feedback on a plan to swap the property at 36 Elm St., currently occupied by the Villa Del Sol Mexican restaurant and empty retail space, for part of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street.
There, behind the Lux Bond & Green Store at 136 Main St., he proposed building a 9,750-square foot building housing a relocated Villa Del Sol, retail space, and four apartments, including one affordable one.
Waldman, who is a principal in developing the Bedford Square project adjoining 36 Elm St., said as part of the swap, he is considering buying the 36 Elm St. property for $5.1 million, knocking it down, and turning it into what would become town parking.
The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight made it official – the Boathouse Restaurant at the privately owned Saugatuck Rowing Club, 521 Riverside Ave., can be open to the public. Responding positively to an application by the club’s owners, P&Z Chair Chip Stephens praised the club for its contribution to the town. But at the same time he told Greenwich businessman Howard Winklevoss, representing the owners, that the restaurant, which had been approved for members’ only, represented another example of “coming back for something that has been in violation really for 15 years now.” Winklevoss said having the restaurant officially open to the public was necessary to make it economically viable. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut’s finances were dealt a major blow today when nonpartisan analysts downgraded projected income tax receipts by hundreds of millions of dollars for this fiscal year and next.
The new report from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, coupled with earlier projections, now means:
— The current fiscal year’s budget could be as much as $266 million in deficit.
— The original budget for 2016-17, adopted last June, now is almost $900 million out of balance.
— Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposal to adjust 2016-17 is as much as $410 million in the red — and that’s assuming legislators agree to cut $570 million from the previously approved 2016-17 plan, as the governor has proposed.
Click here for more of story
Westport’s Post 154 restaurant, which closed Jan. 18 because of a pending sale to another eatery, is back on the market.
“Post 154 is on the market again after a deal fell through at the eleventh hour,” Laura Leeds, principal of Simon David Real Estate, a Westport-based firm, said today.
Leeds had reported on Jan. 22 that the restaurant located in the old Westport Post Office building at 154 Post Road East had closed becuase the business’ owners had gone to contract “with a company that plans to open another restaurant there this year.”
With today’s news that the deal has fallen through, Leeds said her company is actively looking for a new buyer.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Westport and Weston high school students can now just flash their student IDs to get 10 percent discounts at 40 Westport businesses as the result of a student discount partnership.
The program is the brainchild of Staples High School students who are members of the Westport Youth Commission (WYC) and who teamed up with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) and the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, according to Matthew Mandell, WWCC executive director.
The discounts are available to high school students at Staples, Weston High School and Greens Farms Academy.
Vendors will have the partnership logo sticker in their window to signify participation, and the list of participants can be found on the WWCC and WYC websites.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Westport-based Saugatuck Sweets, the popular ice cream and candy store at 575 Riverside Ave. that opened in April 2014, has opened its second location at 28 Reef Road in Fairfield. It is co-owned by Westporters Al DiGuido and Pete Romano. The 1,600-square foot facility – almost twice the size of Westport—includes a second floor for birthday parties for up to 60 people “We’re even more excited about the Fairfield location which has so much more daytime activity than our Saugatuck location,” said DiGuido. “We’re prepared for a major onslaught of customers here. We’re ready to rock.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, February 11, 2016
By Dave Matlow
The 39-year-old office building at 500 Post Road East, across from Westport Fire Headquarters, is getting a green makeover.
The building, former home of Terex Corp., changed ownership in March 2012 for $9 million. Timon Malloy, president of Stamford-based Fred F. French Investing LLC , the new owner, said innovation of the 37,000-square foot building is being completed in two phases with final completion projected for 2017.
The former Westport resident said the initial phase, the 15,000-square foot third floor, is well underway. Then the second phase will begin—renovation of the entrance level and second floor.
“The building will be totally green, a shift from the original structure, which lacked proper insulation and was mainly electric powered,” said Malloy, son of the late Westport artist Susan Malloy.
Lester’s, a clothing, shoes and accessories store, with contemporary fashions, will open next month at 605 Post Road East (opposite Fresh Market) in the space previously occupied by WishList that closed last month after 18 years. Westport will be the fifth location for the chain that has other locations in New York City’s Upper East Side as well as in Greenvale, Rye Brook and Brooklyn, N.Y. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Shoe-Inn, the women’s designer shoe store for four decades at 38 Main St., has reopened across the street at 21 Main St. next to Pottery Barn. The new space was formerly occupied by Henry Lehr. Shoe-Inn has seven other stores located in New Jersey, Westchester County, New York City, and Long Island. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
By Tom Condonwww.ctmirror.org
Dixwell Avenue in Hamden is an inelegant and jumbled commercial strip, a paean to post-World War II planning, a hurried venue for cars where pedestrians or bike riders venture at considerable risk. For example, at the 1950s-era Hamden Plaza, diners leaving Panera Bread on one side of the mall often find the parking lot so vast and uninviting that they get in their cars to pilgrimage to Ashley’s Ice Cream on the other side.
But over time Dixwell and Hamden’s other two major commercial thoroughfares, State Street and Whitney Avenue, may take on a friendlier look and scale; indeed Whitney already is.
Hamden has joined a quiet revolution going on across the country in an area not usually associated with revolutionary fervor: zoning. Instead of focusing on what a building is used for, as traditional zoning does, the new approach, called “form-based zoning,” concentrates on what a building looks like — its form — and how it relates to the street and the neighborhood.
Advocates say the focus on the physical form of buildings encourages diverse, attractive and walkable streets, protects the character of neighborhoods and encourages development by making it more predictable and less administratively cumbersome.
Click here for more of story
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Riverside Barber Shop, 231 Post Road West, above Greg & Tony salon, has opened under new ownership. Continuing a tradition, owner Tammy Stefanidis of Westport said the shop will soon celebrate the 90th anniversary since founded on Riverside Avenue in 1927 by John Santella, followed by his son Lou Santella and then owned by Pat Vigilio since November 1999 when he relocated the business to its current location. (See WestportNow Aug 29, 2009, Feb. 22, 2010 and March 27, 2010) Vigilio recently retired and relocated to Florida, according to Stefanidis. She said she worked for Vigilio for seven years until 2006 and then spent the past 10 years as a homemaker raising her family. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Sola Salons will open this month on the ground floor level at 495 Post Road East, adjacent to the Steinway store, according to co-owners and Westport residents Rich and Holly Bobrow (above). Rich Bobrow said the 6,000 square feet facility has 26 “studios,” each available for “experienced hair stylists and other beauty professionals to open their own business in a turnkey, fully equipped setup.” He added, “Sola empowers its stylists to develop their businesses and realize their dreams.” The Westport site, the fifth in Connecticut, is one of 250 location throughout the country. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Monday, February 08, 2016
Westport’s Board of Finance tonight pored over First Selectman Jim Marpe’s proposed $91,639,626 budget for 2016-17, a .8 percent or $727,396 increase over the current year.
It was the first of the finance board’s three-night informal review of the budget, with tonight’s focus on the police and fire department budgets, plus the town’s contribution to pensions and the OPEB (other post employment benefits) account.
“A lot of these numbers are new to us, and we’ll be meeting this week with all the town departments,” said Michael Rea, finance board vice chairman.
Marpe’s proposed budget combined with the Board of Education’s would amount to an overall town budget of $205,588,568, a 1.49 percent increase.
Friday, February 05, 2016
Westport Assessor Paul Friia today released the annual list of top 10 Westport taxpayers as they appear on the 2015 Grand List Assessment.
Top payer once again was Connecticut Light & Power Inc., now known as Eversource Energy.
Here is the list with the type of tax and the assessment:
1. Connecticut Light & Power Inc., personal property, $135,413,783
2. 60 Nyala Farms Road LLC, real estate, $89,277,600
3. Equity One Westport Village Center, real estate, $35,051,200
4. Bylas LLC, real estate, $24,424,500
5. Campana 125 LLC, real estate, $20,767,800
6. 285 & 355 Riverside LLC , real estate, $20,177,600
7. SL Greens Farms Rd LLC, real estate, $19,937,500
8. Heyman Ronnie F Trustee, real estate, $19,508,800
9. Bridgewater Associates Inc., personal property, $19,126,450
10. Lasry, Marc & Cathy, real estate, $17,470,300
In a sign of Westport’s improving economic health, Westport’s Grand List for 2015—reflecting the latest revaluation—jumped 7.8 percent or approximately $780 million to $10.876 billion, Assessor Paul Friia announced today.
This compared a 1.5 percent increase in 2014 over the previous year and 1.3 percent increase in 2013.
On Jan. 31, Friia signed the Oct. 1, 2015 Grand List as required by state statute. The list is the sum of the net assessed value of all taxable property: real estate, motor vehicles and personal property.
Home values increased approximately 7.5 percent, while commercial values showed a healthy 10 percent jump, making the combined increase in the real estate categories 8.3 percent.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneuf, Arielle Levin Becker, and Jacqueline Rabe Thomaswww.ctmirror.org
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today proposed a $19.87 billion budget that cuts most state agencies and previously approved municipal aid, and potentially eliminates “thousands” of jobs, while avoiding tax hikes to close a nearly $570 million deficit.
Malloy’s plan departs dramatically from decades of past practice. Instead of spelling out how much money each department should spend on specific programs, the proposal — in many instances — largely assigns agencies a lump sum.
This approach would shift more control over line-item spending from the legislature to agency heads and the governor’s budget office.
Malloy’s proposal would reduce general fund spending 3 percent below the preliminary 2016-17 budget he and the legislature approved last June. It essentially keeps spending flat compared with the current fiscal year, increasing it by a rounding error – 1/12th of 1 percent – and would spend $720 million below the level nonpartisan analysts say is necessary to maintain current services.
Click here for more of story
Friday, January 29, 2016
Green&Tonic, a health food eatery, will open in April at the corner of Jesup Road and Taylor Place, the former site of Crumbs, which closed in November 2015 (see WestportNow Nov. 10, 2015.) The Cos Cob-headquartered business, founded in 2011 by Jeff and Cal Pandolfino, opened in Darien (1098 Boston Post Road) and Cos Cob (7 Strickland Ave.) in 2012, Greenwich (85 Railroad Ave.) in 2013 and New Canaan (5 Burtis Ave.) in 2014. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Michaels, an arts and crafts retail chain, will open soon at 1850 Post Road East, in the Westport Plaza Shopping Center anchored by HomeGoods. The 19,300-square feet space was last occupied by Walgreens which closed in May 2015 (see WestportNow April 24, 2015). Other Michaels stores in Connecticut are in Wilton, Stamford, Milford, Brookfield, Waterbury, Meriden, New Britain, Berlin and Avon. Based in Irving, Texas, Michaels was founded in 1973 and has 1,262 stores in 49 states. It is the largest arts and crafts specialty retailer in North America. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Thursday, January 28, 2016
By James Lomuscio
Saying that traffic, safety and environmental impact should not be sacrificed for affordable housing, a number of residents at tonight’s Westport Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting spoke against a developer’s plan.
It calls for a six-story, 48-unit multi-family housing project with 15 affordable units at the busy intersection of Wilton Road and Kings Highway North.
Fairfield attorney John Fallon, representing the developer of the project, Garden Homes Management, put forth the application for the development at 122 Wilton Road.
He said the project would meet the requirements of the controversial 8-30g affordable housing statute, under which the application was being made. The statute allows developers to override local zoning laws if the town does not have 10 percent of its housing stock classified as affordable, which Westport does not.
‘By James Lomuscio
In a straw vote tonight, Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) voted 5 to 2 to deny a proposed Riverwalk text amendment.
The amendment would facilitate a local developer’s plans to build a two-story, 25,000-square-foot office building and a 47-foot tall residential building for between 15 to 17 condominiums at the former Save the Children site at 54 Wilton Road.
Following the commission’s work session straw vote, P&Z Director Laurence Bradley said he would prepare a negative resolution that the commission could vote on at its next meeting Thursday, Feb. 4.
The planned 47-foot building, 12 feet higher that what is currently allowed, seemed the Achilles heel of the text amendment that aims to create a new Riverwalk District (RD) in a current General Business District (GBD) along the west bank of the Saugatuck River.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
The Westport Board of Selectmen today approved a representation agreement with Pelham, N.Y.-based Bench Strength Partners, Inc. for contract negotiation services with wireless companies for the cell tower at the Westport Fire Headquarters, 515 Post Road East (above). Finance Director Gary Conrad said the town has been “leaving a lot of money on the table” under its current contract with a company that has handled leasing the tower and had a ceiling on negotiated rates. He said the town will assume full ownership of the tower in 14 months—something he said was unusual for a municipality—and then will have the ability to realize significantly improved fees. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com