Major Additions to Westport: Construction on Saugatuck Center Underway

new buildings left and right: Construction commences on a new, yet-to-be determined store that will be part of the Saugatuck Center. | Photo by Madeline Hardy '11

Construction on Riverside Avenue in downtown Westport has begun in the effort to create the Saugatuck Center, which will consist of four buildings with both commercial and residential lots.

As written on its website, the goal of the project is to “bring the neighborhood back to Westport.” Project leaders would like to bring more business to downtown Westport and hope to do so with the installment of a series of new businesses.

Westport’s commercial attraction has been lacking in recent years, so the Saugatuck Center aims to change that.

The four buildings to be built on the site are named Port, Starboard, Marsh, and Tide, paying homage to their proximity to the Saugatuck River. The buildings will be two stories, with retail and office space on the first floor and condominiums on the second floor. In addition, there will be a parking garage underground beneath the buildings.

Developer Sam Gault of Gault Energy owns the site of the construction and is overseeing all plans for it. Gault is still unsure as to what stores are going to be established in these buildings.

“I don’t have anything to date completely signed,” Gault said regarding the future businesses. However, the general plan is to offer a few retail stores, restaurants, and something along the lines of a grocery store or florist.

The plans also feature a scenic pedestrian walkway along the Saugatuck River.

With the help of the landscape architecture company Wesley Stout Associates, the center will be well stocked with picturesque trees and plants.

The residential condominiums to be built on the second level will be typical for Westport expense, with one exception.

“[The condominiums] must be a minimum of twenty percent affordable housing for a minimum of forty years,” said Laurence Bradley, director of Westport Planning and Zoning.

After those forty years, the affordable housing can be brought back to market price.

The construction has already necessitated the demolishment of quite a few stores and buildings. But according to Bradley, there is still more to come.

“The second phase [of the project] will be across the street where Doc’s Café is,” Bradley said.

The plan was originally approved by Westport Planning and Zoning in 2007, and is already operating on an extension that should end in February 2012.

However, according to Bradley, the developers could ask for as much as another five years of extension at this point, if they feel it is necessary.