36 Riverside Ave. / Photos by Thane Grauel
36 Riverside Ave. / Photos by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Architectural Review Board on Tuesday approved a plan that would convert 36 Riverside Ave. to residential.

The 1900 building with two floors and a large plate-glass storefront has for the last half-century been the home to restaurants. It was Pearl’s from the mid-’70 to mid-’80s, and then Da Pietro’s for 34 years. Earlier it was a laundry and surveyors’ offices, among other uses.

The latest owners, Pietro and Janine Scotti, want to convert the property from mixed use to single-family residential with an accessory apartment. The upstairs space already is an apartment. The former restaurant area on the ground floor would become another dwelling.

The plan would cover the storefront window and enclose the outdoor staircase to the second floor.

The revised plan to convert 36 Riverside Ave. to residential.
The revised plan to convert 36 Riverside Ave. to residential.

At an earlier hearing by the ARB, members had concerns about aspects of the plan, primarily proposed brick facing. They questioned how it would mesh with the shingles on the sides of the building, and worried it might detract from the New England charm of the structure.

The applicants, represented by architect Julie Verni, had chosen the brick scheme to fit in with some other historic brick structures nearby, including National Hall and the building that wraps around the southeast corner of Post Road West and Riverside.

The revamped plans shown Tuesday swapped the brick out with slate gray Hardie plank siding. Other details were adjusted as well.

“We decided to reside the entire structure,” Verni said. “The cedar siding is really not in great shape and it’s time for a bit of an upgrade.”

The commission members appeared to appreciate their earlier input was integrated into the latest plan and passed it unanimously.

Architect Julie Verni.
Architect Julie Verni

“So much improved,” said member John Halper.

Member Vesna Herman asked if there was a way to make the moldings around the doors simpler. But, she said later, it was not a sticking point.

“Just a suggestion,” she said. “I do support the project.”

“You cleaned this up,” she said. “I think it’s better.”

“I think you did a lovely job,” Chairman Ward French said. “I fully support the application as resubmitted.”

The plan will next be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.