Businesses Seal New Deals for West Side of Downtown

Riverside Corners, a major commercial building on the west bank of the Saugatuck River that recently topped the town’s list of tax-delinquent properties, will soon welcome two new tenants, according to a Westport commercial real estate agent.

The owners of a new Italian restaurant and Westport’s Bella Bridesmaid franchise, respectively, have signed multi-year leases at 5 Riverside Ave. and 9 Post Road West, HK Group Executive Vice President Franco Fellah told the Westport News on Monday.

The new restaurant will move into a 3,100-square-foot space that previously was occupied by the Napoli Sul Fiume restaurant until its closing in December 2010.

Bella Bridesmaid is relocating from 16 Taylor Place to expand into a 875-square-foot storefront — a space that formerly housed a dog-grooming business. Both 5 Riverside Ave. and 9 Post Road West are currently vacant.

‘These tenants will add to the character of the west side,’ Fellah said. ‘It shows the potential of this property. The new owners are doing everything possible to make the tenants happy.’

Fellah brokered the restaurant lease with HK Group Vice President Ralph Michel and brokered Bella Bridesmaid’s lease with John D. Hastings real estate agent Chris Maglione.

Several Riverside Corners business owners also were upbeat about the arrival of the new tenants.

‘It’s so great –the more people the better,’ said Richard Falcone, owner of Art’s Delicatessen, which opened in January at 13 Post Road West. ‘This whole area is going to drive growth in Westport.’

An 1,875-square-foot storefront at 5 Post Road West, which was formerly occupied by the Stuart Collection home furnishings store, is the only remaining retail vacancy at Riverside Corners.

The arrival of the two new tenants signals a turnaround for Riverside Corners. Three months ago, it held the No. 1 position on the town’s list of tax-delinquent properties with an unpaid tax bill of approximately $190,000.

The property’s fortunes, however, have revived since it was acquired for $2.475 million in February by the Atlanta-based Ansley Westport Riverside LLC. Three of Riverside Corners’ second-floor apartments have also been leased since Ansley Westport Riverside bought the building; seven of the property’s nine apartments are now occupied.

Immediately after buying Riverside Corners, Ansley Westport Riverside also paid off the property’s delinquent property taxes.

The west side of downtown Westport has struggled in recent years with a number of retail and office vacancies. Across the street from Riverside Corners, the landmark National Hall is the most prominent unoccupied building. But National Hall could soon welcome a new tenant. Its owner, the Norwalk commercial real estate firm Greenfield Partners on May 31 is set to present to the Planning and Zoning Commission a site plan for its new office center there.

Site plans have also been submitted to the P&Z for a new restaurant at 6 Wilton and another new restaurant at 12 Wilton Road. Those two properties, which stand within the same commercial complex as National Hall, are also owned by Greenfield Partners.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott

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