Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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A New Idea for Elm Street

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.

WestportNow.com Image
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

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 new building would be adjacent to the recently moved and reconstructed Kemper-Gunn House, which Waldman and his partners moved from Church Lane to make way for the Bedford Square development.

Waldman said the proposal would actually add two parking spaces to the town inventory.

“You’re getting back something,” he said, noting “it gives you a much more usable parking lot, which is collectively better for town.”

“This is our last piece of the puzzle,” Waldman said of his plan which he said would create a triangle of retail space equal to Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich but in a much more walkable environment.

He added that the town could choose to keep the newly acquired 36 Elm St. land as parking, add some green space, or even make room for an arts center.

Waldman said the plan shows “I truly care about the town,” adding, “This clearly hits all the right buttons.”

P&Z members responded with measured optimism about the plan.

Stephens said there were still many issues that remained unclear, including “what the town has got to throw toward this.”

Waldman responded that the town would reap the benefits of thousands of tax dollars that Bedford Square project would add to the town coffers.

Member Paul Lebowitz said, “On paper this looks like a really good start.”

Waldman thanked commission members for the feedback, noting that he was under time constraints in regards to the 36 Elm St. property.

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