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‘The Dining Room’ Kicks Off Playhouse Season

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The Westport Country Playhouse tonight begins previews of “The Dining Room,” created by playwright A. R. Gurney and directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Jennifer Van Dyck (l) and Jake Robards are among the cast. The first in the Playhouse’s five-play 2013 season is a witty and heartfelt story of the American family and its vanishing traditions set in the most singular of rooms, where people gather, meals are eaten, conversations begin, and generations converge. Opening night is Saturday, and it and runs through May 18. For more information and tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177 or visit http://www.westportplayhouse.org. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

What a Deal: Empire State and Westport Pizzeria

UPDATE A New York judge today cleared the way for a public offering of shares in the Empire State Building and properties on Westport’s Main Street, including Westport Pizzeria.

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Westport Pizzeria, two adjacent retail stores, and three others on Westport’s Main Street would be rolled into the Empire State Building offering. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

New York Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood denied a motion by opposing shareholders to declare illegal a plan that would allow Malkin Holdings, controlled by the Malkin family of Greenwich, to roll the properties into a real estate investment trust.

The Westport properties include 66-99 Main St., current home to Nike Running, Allen Edmonds, and Theory, and 103 (former home of Kate Spade, now empty), 105 (Francois du Pont Jewelers), and 107 (Westport Pizzeria) Main St.

Under the plan, the Empire State Building—owned by Empire State Building Associates LLC, an entity controlled by Malkin—would join at least 20 other properties in the REIT called Empire State Realty Trust Inc. and launch an initial public stock offering. The IPO could bring $1 billion, according to financial advisers.

Staples Grad Justin Paul Gets Tony Nominaton

Among today’s Tony Award nominations was 2003 Staples High School graduate Justin Paul.

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Justin Paul was honored in 2007 with a Westport Arts Horizon Award, given to young artists. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

He was nominated in the Best Original Score (music and/or lyrics) Written for the Theatre category with writing partner Benj Pasek for their work on “A Christmas Story, The Musical.” The show also received two other nominations.

They are up against “Hands on a Hardbody,” “Matilda The Musical,” and “Kinky Boots,” written by pop star Cyndi Lauper.

Two other Staples graduates, like Paul, former members of Staples Players, worked on shows also receiving nominations.

Town Issues RFP to Redevelop 1885 House

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The Town of Westport on Monday issued a request for proposal (RFP) from real estate developers to redevelop the Queen Anne-style house known as the Kemper/Gunn House, which has stood since 1885 on Church Lane adjacent to the Westport Weston Family Y. The owner of the house, Bridge Square Associates which is redeveloping the Westport Weston Family Y property, has offered to pay to move it to the nearby town-owned Baldwin Parking Lot. The RFP, which has a deadline of May 30, was developed with a group of preservation advocates and with the support of the Westport Historic District Commission (HDC). It seeks a developer who would be responsible for renovating and adapting the house to new uses that could include commercial use. The town would retain ownership of the land and enter into a ground lease with the developer, who would take ownership of the structure at no cost. Bedford Square Associates has applied for a demolition permit for the house (see WestportNow April 15, 2013), and the HDC can delay demolition for as long as 180 days. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Post Road East Shopping Strip Sells for $3.45 Million

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The shopping strip at 1529 Post Road East at Maple Avenue North has changed hands for $3.45 million, according to broker Jon Angel of Fairfield-based Angel Commercial LLC. The transaction was recorded in the Town Clerk’s office on April 22. He represented the buyer—Post Maple LLC— and the seller, Joseph Rothman Westport LLC. The property on 2.1 acres contains 7,680-square feet of retail space and current tenants include Maple Cleaners, Boat Locker, Dunkin Donuts, Sun Reflexology and Top Drawer. There are no plans to change anything at the premises, other than a general clean up of the property, Angel said. “The seller owned the property for over 45 years,” he said. “It attracted a long list of qualified buyers on an unsolicited basis due to its prime corner location, with traffic lights…and a high traffic count.“ (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – “SOLOS 2013”
6 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – RTM Public Protection Committee
7:30 p.m. – Westport Public Library – Daniel Stashower: “The Hour of Peril: the Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War”
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309/307 – RTM Planning & Zoning and Long Range Planning Committees
8 p.m. – Greens Farms Academy – Chefs in Conversation: Michel Nischan and Jeremy Barlow
8 p.m. – Westport Country Playhouse – “The Dining Room”

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

New Long Lots Playground to Honor Sandy Hook Victim

By James Lomuscio

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Westport Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar addresses the Boad of Education tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

With the unanimous approval of the Westport Board of Education tonight, the playground behind the Long Lots Elementary School will be rebuilt and dedicated to Dylan Hockley, a 6-year old who was one of the 26 murdered in the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown.

The board agreed to accept to $117,000 gift from the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association which is raisning funds to build 26 playgrounds throughout the tri-state area, each one dedicated to one of the victims.

“This will be the fourth,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar, who presented the proposed “no strings attached” gift to the school board.

Kepchar said that one such playground has already been completed in Sea Bright, N.J., and others are underway in Union Beach, N.J. and in Staten Island, N.Y.

BOE Okays Kroll Firm for Security Audit

The Board of Education tonight approved the hiring of the Kroll security firm to conduct a $98,000 school security audit following the Newtown shootings.

The firm was among three finalists whose representatives appeared before the board in an executive session before the public meeting.

Also taking part in the executive session were Police Chief Dale Call, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas, and Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar, said Board Chair Elaine Whitney.

In March, an hour before the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) session scheduled to consider a $100,000 school security audit appropriation request, the Board of Education said it was withdrawing the item. (See WestportNow March 5, 2013)