The Architectural Review Board last week approved two signs for the Big Y grocery store, planned at the Post Plaza shopping center in a space formerly occupied by a Barnes & Noble book store. The building had been partially renovated to become an Amazon Fresh store, but that project was cancelled early this year.

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — Signs planned for a new Big Y supermarket at 1076 Post Road won quick support from the Architectural Review Board last week.

The board’s blessing for Big Y’s signs was granted in sharp contrast to questions and complaints that engulfed the sign for an Amazon Fresh store previously proposed at the same location. Amazon, which cancelled plans for its tech-driven supermarket earlier this year, was forced to redesign its standard “smiling arrow” logo after several failed attempts to win approval from the ARB and Zoning Board of Appeals in 2022.

ARB members had only a few suggestions when they voted March 26 to accept two signs for the new grocery store, totaling 73 square feet: a circular Big Y logo, and a narrower, longer strip sign underneath, both designed by Graphic Images Inc., a Pittsfield, Mass., sign company.

The application filed with the ARB for Big Y’s red logo sign.

The larger sign features the supermarket chain’s brand, “Big Y” in white lettering on a circular red background. The second sign reads,  “Your Family Market,” in black lettering on a white background, which will be installed beneath the circular sign.

During review of the Amazon Fresh sign, the proposal prompted questions about its size and height from board members, as well as criticism from neighbors, who felt the store’s proposed lighting would be too bright.

Amazon, after gutting the interior of the retail space previously occupied by a Barnes & Noble book store at the Post Plaza shopping center, made no further progress in converting the property into a supermarket in more than a year’s time. The Amazon Fresh sign, approved only after an arduous review process, was never installed on the partially renovated storefront.

A concern mentioned by ARB members in their review of the Big Y application is the plan to install the signs off-center in relationship to the store entrance.

David Halpern, a recently appointed board member, suggested the sign would look better placed squarely above the entrance instead of toward the left side of the façade, as indicted on architectural drawings filed with the panel.

“Having it centered over the door would certainly complement the architecture,” he said.

The signs’ off-center placement was chosen to make them more visible to motorists on Post Road East, William Wand of Graphic Images, told the board. Big Y signs usually are placed directly above the doors at most of its stores, he said. But trees along Post Road East would block a view of the signs if positioned directly over the entrance.

Amazon partially renovated the façade of this retail space at the Post Plaza shopping center before withdrawing plans to open an Amazon Fresh supermarket there earlier this year.

Board member Jake Watkins, however, said that placing the signs a bit higher on the facade, if possible, would make them appear more centered on the storefront’s long, dark façade, even if not centered over the doors.

And member Vesna Herman suggested that the lower, white-background sign should be the same red color as the Big Y circular sign to create a visual link.

The board then voted unanimously to accept the Big Y application as submitted, with the suggestion that both signs have the same red highlights.

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman and has taught journalism at New York and Southern Connecticut State universities.