The old Remarkable Book Shop building is fenced off for work. / Photo by Thane Grauel
The old Remarkable Book Shop building is fenced off for work. / Photo by Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — A seller of Scandinavian furnishings will soon occupy the old Remarkable Book Shop building on Main Street.

Eleish Van Breems, which has locations in Saugatuck and on Nantucket, received permission Tuesday night from the Zoning Board of Appeals to make some alterations to the property. The business offers furnishings with “a clean, elegant and fresh approach to interiors, all with a Scandinavian essence,” according to its website.

The 177 Main St. site, still remembered by many longtime Westporters as the very pink, quite eclectic Remarkable Book Shop, over the years also housed a Talbots clothing store and, most recently, Local to Market, which closed last April.

The ZBA on Tuesday granted approval for variances pertaining to exterior renovations on the property, including plans to enclose an existing exterior stairway, remove the courtyard platform and steps, and to replace the garden wall, steps, platforms and ramp.

The sign plan for Eleish Van Breems on Main Street.
The sign plan for Eleish Van Breems on Main Street.

Most of the proposed work area is in setbacks and the town right-of-way, architect Patricia Gill told the board. A deteriorating concrete staircase will be replaced, and a raised platform in front of the building will be removed, she said, bringing it to street level. A new ramp will make the shop compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The store will be the only tenant, Gill said.

Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Michelle Perillie said the building, built in 1790, predates zoning regulations.

The building’s main entrance has been walled off for work.

“We’re not changing the building itself,” Gill said. “We’re changing landscape-type things.”

ZBA members were pleased the plans already had been reviewed, and approved, by the Architectural Review Board and Historic District Commission last December. 

In January, the Board of Selectwomen granted a waiver of the town’s encroachment policy to accommodate features that intrude into the public right-of-way. Gill noted that the new encroachment cedes footage back to the town from the property’s pre-existing encroachment.

Jim Ezzes, the ZBA chairman, gave the proposal high marks, saying the applicants “did a really good job.”

Elizabeth Wong said the changes would make the property safer and more compatible with the streetscape.

Amy Wistreich agreed, saying the finished project should “look really nice.”

The ZBA’s vote was unanimous.