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Restaurants, Shops Eye Westport's Old Post Office

WESTPORT, Conn. – For the first time since it was built in 1935, the building at 154 Post Road E. in Westport sits empty now that the post office moved to Playhouse Square. But it won't stay that way for long, said Franco Fellah, executive vice president of HK Group, a commercial real estate group.

The 10,000-square-foot building is in a prime location on Post Road East, with much interest already being expressed, said Fellah, who is representing the building's new owners, Ansley Westport Partners, in the leasing process.

"There are at least four parties looking at it," he said. "It seems the most likely use will either be restaurant, retail, or offices for a large financial institution that's thinking about putting offices in there."

All of these uses, he added, are permitted in the building's zoning category.

Ansley Westport Partners, a Georgia-based company with investors from Georgia and New York, bought the building in May for $2.35 million, said Alon Panovka, a lawyer who represents the company.

Given the building's size, Fellah said, it could be leased to several tenants. The main level, he said, has 14-foot ceilings and is listed at 4,650 square feet. The lower level, which Fellah said is fully finished, has 9-foot ceilings and about 4,200 square feet.

However, Fellah said, some of the prospective tenants are interested in occupying the entire space. Others, he said, have expressed interest in occupying the main level only, in which case a "compatible tenant" would be sought for the lower level.

Whatever moves in, the building will undergo "major renovations," Fellah said.

"Although the building is great is terms of architecture and is built like a rock, its mechanical systems will be changed depending on how the building will be used," he said. "Everything will be brand new."

At this time, Fellah would not disclose any of the interested parties. But if it is leased to a restaurant or retail company, he said he was confident the building would become a "pulse attraction" downtown.

"Financial offices are probably less interesting to the public. But a restaurant with a bar or new store would be a great component downtown. A restaurant with a big bar, for example, I think would become a major place where people hang out and have fun."

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