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Westport Recommends Bid For Baron’s South Project

WESTPORT, Conn. – A Stamford-based development firm won the endorsement of a Westport board Friday to construct a proposed 100-unit independent senior living complex on town-owned land known as Baron’s South.

The Baron’s South Committee unanimously recommended to First Selectman Gordon Joseloff that the project be awarded to Jonathan Rose Cos.

Last December, the committee sent a Request for Proposal to solicit bids from developers interested in the project. Developers had until March 30 to submit a proposal. Jonathan Rose, which constructed the Westport Senior Center, was one of three development firms that responded to the request.

The Baron’s South Committee has been reviewing the proposals in closed-door meetings since April. As part of the review process, the committee invited the developers to discuss the bids at length, committee Co-Chairman Steve Daniels said.

“This was a tough decision, but we think we’ve done it fairly, and we are very comfortable with our conclusion,” Daniels said during Friday morning’s public meeting.

The Jonathan Rose proposal, Daniels said, “adhered to the [request for proposal] in every facet.” In the request for proposals, it said the project "should be planned, designed, constructed and managed without financial contribution from the town." It also said, "Proposals must provide for a revenue stream and/or an initial capital payment to the town."

The project calls for 100 one- and two-bedroom units, 60 percent of which must be rented as affordable — below market rate. The proposal does not include plans for a skilled nursing facility, however, that could come as a “possible phase two” to the project, Daniels said.

The facility would use 4 to 7 acres of the 23-acre Baron’s South property, Co-Chairman Marty Hauhuth said. The rest of the land would be maintained as public open space.

Now that a recommendation has been made, the proposal must be reviewed and approved by the Representative Town Meeting, the town’s legislative body, as well as the Board of Finance. If all necessary approvals are granted, which Daniels said would be a lengthy process, construction is not likely begin for three to four years.

Daniels said the committee had been criticized for not reviewing the proposals in public meetings. However, he said it was necessary for the bids to be reviewed and discussed only by members of the committee.

“There was a lot of proprietary information in the bids that we had,” he said. “We couldn’t have a public session where somebody would walk out and be able to disclose all kinds of information. We had to control that.”

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