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Selectmen OK Below-Market Housing for 40% of Baron's South Sr. Center

A view of the Baron's South property at a different time of year (Westport Patch file photo)
A view of the Baron's South property at a different time of year (Westport Patch file photo)

A news release Monday, June 9 from the Westport First Selectman's Office:

The Westport Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop senior housing on the Baron’s South property at a special meeting held on June 9, 2014. The agreement with Jonathan Rose and David Freshwater provides the business terms with definitive lease and development agreements to follow.

First Selectman Jim Marpe thanked the Baron’s South Committee and the previous administration for their efforts over the past few years. He stated, “The Baron’s South Committee formed by the previous administration has continued to seamlessly move the project forward.

"Their vision for senior housing on Baron’s South is now much closer to fruition as we seek final approvals. Approval of the Memorandum of Understanding is an important step in creating a facility that will serve all Westport seniors while also providing the benefits of quality open space for all Westport citizens.

"The senior housing facility at Baron’s South is destined to become another 'crown jewel' of Westport and will establish a standard for helping senior citizens 'age in place' that other communities will be challenged to emulate. Through this creative private / public partnership, Westport is again leading the way in providing quality services to its citizens.”

Selectman Avi Kaner, who led the negotiations effort on behalf of the town said, “Senior housing on Baron’s South is a unique opportunity for Westport that will pay dividends for generations to come. It is a win for Westport seniors who will be able to continue to live in the community they love.

"It is also a financial win for all Westport taxpayers, as the project will become our third largest taxpayer and further improve the vibrancy of our downtown.”

Selectwoman Helen Garten said, “Westport cares about its seniors, and this project, the culmination of years of work, proves that. I am especially pleased that the developer listened to the community and agreed to build an amenities center, including a pool, that will benefit all seniors who use our Senior Center.”

Jonathan Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Companies, remarked, “We are so pleased that the Town of Westport Board of Selectmen voted to approve the MOU that moves the Baron’s South project forward.

"The Selectmen have continued to build on the excellent work of the Baron’s South Committee and have integrated open space preservation into the project.”

David Freshwater, chairman of Watermark Retirement Communities added, “We’re excited to continue our collaboration with the Town of Westport. We are confident that our shared vision and common goals will lead to the development of an innovative senior housing community that will make generations of Westporters proud.”

Steve Daniels, co-chair of the Baron’s South Committee, reiterated the support of the committee. “The MOU is another step in creating a senior campus with a selection of below market and market rate rental units that will enable seniors to remain in our community and continue their substantive contribution to Westport. All Westport seniors will benefit from the expanded services and amenities.”

Barbara Butler, director of the Human Services Department and a member of the committee, added, “I am very encouraged to be at this point in what has been a long process of seeking the best possible proposal for this community.

"We have now a proposal for a mixed income senior living community with many services and amenities, all of which are optional, a la carte if you will, and located in a beautiful park-like setting.”

Matthew Mandel, executive director and president of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce stated, “The use of the enlarged pool and exercise area as an annex to the Senior Center is something that all seniors of our community can take advantage of. In addition, a significant portion of the land will be preserved as open space and never be developed.”

Selectman Kaner described the parameters of the MOU. “40 percent of the 135 rental units will be set below market rate based on two income tiers. The developer will build an amenity center adjoining the Senior Center for use by all Westport Seniors.

"The center will include an aquatherapy pool, exercise rooms, salon, and café. The developer will also maintain open land around the project in a tranquil setting for community use, including hiking trails and adult exercise equipment.”

He added “the Baron’s South operator will pay the town full property taxes each year instead of an earlier contemplated PILOT (payment of lieu of taxes) or a rent program. This financial arrangement doubles the anticipated Net Present Value (NPV) to the town and is fully transparent.”

The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet on June 19 to review the proposed text amendment in line with the MOU. Westporters are encouraged to attend that meeting at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium.

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