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Save the Children moving HQ from Westport to Fairfield

Updated 4:24 pm, Monday, December 9, 2013
  • Save The Children, which sold its Westport headquarters, is moving into 501 Kings Highway East, where the Board of Education offices are housed. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    Save The Children, which sold its Westport headquarters, is moving into 501 Kings Highway East, where the Board of Education offices are housed. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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By Anne M. Amato

Save the Children, the international relief agency headquartered on Wilton Road for about four decades, will move to Fairfield in the spring.

The children's relief agency plans to lease about 60,000 square feet of space in a building at 501 Kings Highway East in Fairfield, which also houses the Fairfield Board of Education offices.

"All of the employees who now report to Wilton Road will be moving to the new facility, Ken Murdoch vice president of IT and building operations for the agency, said Monday. Save the Children has a total of 900 employees, about 300 of whom work in Westport.

He said the agency will occupy the entire fourth floor and about half of the third floor of the commercial structure, which is not far from Fairfield's southeastern border with Bridgeport.

He said that the new location is comparable in size to Save the Children's current 58,000-square-foot building, but the new site has more "usable space."

Murdoch said offices and hallways take up a lot of room in the Westport complex, while the new location has an open floor space plan that provides more unencumbered room.

"It's a good fit for us," he said, adding minimal construction is needed on the fourth floor, while "a little more work" is necessary on the third.

Murdoch added that the agency is working on getting the necessary building permits and construction bids for that work.

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said he is "very excited" about the news. "It pretty much fills up that building," Tetreau said, adding it will help the town's grand list with personal property tax revenue from the agency's equipment, as well as boost the area economy and bring more jobs to Fairfield.

"Plus, I'd like to think it's an organization that very much fits the character of the town," he added.

Last month, Save the Children completed the sale of its Wilton Road headquarters building to a group headed by local developer David Waldman for $11.9 million.

Waldman has not disclosed his plans for the two-story building on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

In moving to Fairfield, the agency has signed a contract with Rooster River Plaza LLC to lease the office space at the Riverview Office Park. Developer Hal Fischel is the owner/developer of the property.

The agency said it needed more room to expand its headquarters workforce but wanted to stay in Fairfield County.

Save the Children's president and CEO, Carolyn Miles, said the Fairfield location would allow that.

"When we first moved into our Westport headquarters in 1974, we had 75 employees. Today, we have approximately 900 employees across the U.S., with nearly 300 based in Westport," Miles said in a news release Monday.

"While we have planned for growth in our agency, we always knew that the Wilton Road headquarters might not be able to accommodate our increasing size and needs," she added. "For years, we have discussed that one of our options would be to sell the building and lease office space elsewhere,"

Miles said Save the Children has a history of support in Fairfield County and hoped to remain in the region.

"We have been part of Fairfield County for nearly 40 years," she said in the release.

"We deeply value the tremendous backing we've received here during that time and made a point to keep Fairfield County as our home," she added. "We are also excited about our new location and the opportunity to engage with the community of Fairfield."