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Westport Selectmen OK Senior Housing Plan For Baron’s South

The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting about the Baron's South plan at 7 p.m. June 19 in the Town Hall Auditorium.
The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting about the Baron's South plan at 7 p.m. June 19 in the Town Hall Auditorium. Photo Credit: File

WESTPORT, Conn. -- A plan to develop senior housing on the Baron’s South property in Westport is slated to go forward after receiving unanimous approval Monday night from the Westport Board of Selectmen, according to a statement.

In a special meeting, the Westport Board of Selectmen approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Jonathan Rose and David Freshwater that spells out the project's business terms. Definitive lease and development agreements will follow.

First Selectman Jim Marpe thanked the Baron’s South Committee and the previous administration for its efforts.

The Baron’s South Committee's "vision for senior housing on Baron’s South is now much closer to fruition as we seek final approvals," Marpe said in a statement. "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 led the negotiations effort on behalf of the town. “Senior housing on Baron’s South is a unique opportunity for Westport that will pay dividends for generations to come," Kaner said. "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.”

Under the MOU, 40 percent of the 135 rental units will be set below market rate based on two income tiers, Kaner said. Also, 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.

The Baron’s South operator will pay the town full property taxes each year, he said.

Selectwoman Helen Garten said, “Westport cares about its seniors, and this project, the culmination of years of work, proves that."

Developers Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Cos., and Freshwater, chairman of Watermark Retirement Communities, said they were pleased the project is moving forward.

Steve Daniels, co-chair of the Baron’s South Committee, said the MOU is a step toward creating a senior campus with a selection of below market and market rate rental units.

Matthew Mandel, executive director and president of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, praised the plan. “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.”

The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting about the MOU at 7 p.m. June 19 in the Town Hall Auditorium.

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