The mid-century shopping center at 1620 Post Road East might make way for a recreational golf facility. / Photo by Thane Grauel
1620 Post Road East. / File photo by Thane Grauel

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — Neighbors are weighing in on a proposal to convert an old shopping center on Post Road East into a “family golf entertainment center.”

While most letters express concerns about the plan, several support it. A divide between residential and commercial neighbors appears clear.

The properties at 1608-1622 Post Road East will need map amendment, text amendment and general development plan/special permit applications approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The plan by 1620 PRE Associates LLC is to convert the 8,550-square-foot building to a golfing recreation center, and, in a potential future phase, add 10 townhouses at the back property, two below market rents.

The proposal for the area across from the old Westport Inn, filed in May, is the latest iteration of an earlier plan proposed, and then withdrawn, from Post Road East at Colonial Road, for the old Men’s Wearhouse building. There, neighbors were concerned about spillover parking and other issues.

Here is a summary of letters the Planning and Zoning Department has received so far:

  • “… This property at 1620 Post Road East behind the stores where the proposed parking and housing would be located is a former dump! It is environmentally unsafe! Over the years people have tested and found it was contaminated. Machines have gotten stuck there. Years ago a Kowalski [Brothers] worker died working in the storm drain in front of the building from methane gas. It would be very dangerous to disturb the ground …”
    Gail and Americo Renzulli, George Street
  • “I am writing to express my STRONG opposition to 1620 PRE  Associates LLC. I am a longtime resident of Lansdowne, which is next door. I know firsthand how difficult it is to exit Landsdowne and get onto the Post Road. This project would only make it worse …”
    Susan Kane, Landsdowne
  • Teresa Cuseo, the owner of 18 George St., and Christina Cuseo Gudzik and John Gudzik, residents, said they had no problem with beautifying the Post Road East property, and that they look forward to working with the owners. But had concerns about a barrier of large trees.
    “We do not want to have people seeing our property and vice versa.”
    They also had concerns about an emergency vehicle path and the old landfill.
    “Worried about buried toxins being disturbed and causing issues in the area.”
  • “The proposed “rooftop patio” could be a source of disturbing noise, especially if it is in use during evening hours. The proposed housing development at the rear of the property could also adversely affect the Lansdowne community if it is built without a buffer zone …”
    Sybil Steinberg, Lansdowne
  • Myles J. Seideman of Lansdowne listed his concerns as property lines, request for reduced setbacks, reuse of the landfill area, traffic on the Post Road, Fire Department access and noise and light from the rooftop deck and golf simulator.
  • Charles Mallory, a principal in the firm redeveloping the old Westport Inn, wrote in favor.
    “As you know, the above property is a bit of an eyesore. From our perspective, any application that involves a beautification of that property is something we strongly support and believe most residents of the town will feel the same way we do …
  • “… We are totally in favor of the proposal. The existing property is an eyesore to the neighborhood with about five curb cuts that make it difficult for traffic in or out of our property.”
    Garrett Wilson of Garrett Wilson Builders, owner of condos at 1599 Post Road East.
  • Another Lansdowne resident worried about traffic between Maple and Bulkley avenues, and notes many pedestrians had been struck, and some killed, by cars.
    “I ask the current P&Z to reconsider granting a permit to 1620 unless something can be done to remediate the current traffic nightmare.
    Jane Malakoff, Lansdowne
  • “We have become aware of the pending application from 1620 PRE Associates LLC and we are totally in favor of their proposal. The existing property is an eyesore to the neighborhood with about five curb cuts that make the area difficult for traffic in or out of our property.”
    Dr. Andrew Spadinger, Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics, 1580 Post Road East.

The applications are on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission’s next meeting at 7 p.m. July 10.

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.