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Selectmen OK development team to oversee Kemper-Gunn House project

Published 3:20 pm, Wednesday, April 23, 2014
  • A Representative Town Meeting members looks at a computer rendering of how the relocated Gunn House would appear in the Baldwin parking lot on Elm Street. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed
    A Representative Town Meeting members looks at a computer rendering of how the relocated Gunn House would appear in the Baldwin parking lot on Elm Street. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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A development team has been officially named to oversee the relocation and renovation of the historic Kemper Gunn House from Church Lane to a site in the town's Baldwin parking lot on Elm Street.

An entity called DC Kemper-Gunn LLC, comprising figures from Bedford Square Associates, which has acquired the house's site as part of the multi-use complex it will build on the Westport Weston Family Y property, was given the designation Wednesday by the Board of Selectmen.

Karen Johnson, representing the LLC, went before the selectmen for that approval to keep the relocation project moving forward.

"We went before the (Planning and Zoning Commission) and there was some concern we were not officially authorized," she said, adding the group submitted its proposal in May 2013 and was the successful respondent to the request for proposal for the house's relocation.

But, she said, that wasn't "formally communicated to the P&Z."

She also thanked the board for establishing the Kemper-Gunn House Advisory Group, which is led by Selectman Helen Garten.

Garten, at the group's first meeting last week, said the advisory board will serve as a clearing house of information for the public, town department heads and regulatory agencies throughout the project.

"That group will move this process along and we are looking forward to continuing negotiations and getting" zoning approvals, Johnson said.

Plans are to start site preparations at the parking lot in July, which could take up to four weeks, and then move the late-19th-century house in early August.

The house is being moved to make way for part of the Bedford Square multi-use project, the main anchor of which will be built on the abutting property of the Westport Weston Family Y once the Y moves to its new home later this year.

Selectmen unanimously approved accepting DC Kemper-Gunn LLC as the developer. "I'll do a letter to the P&Z" about that, Marpe said.

The board also approved modifications to the town-owned property, known as the Baldwin parking lot, where the house will be moved,.

Johnson presented a diagram of the lot and said the relocation would mean the loss of about 22 of the nearly 260 parking spaces currently there. "That's about 8 to 9 percent of the total space," said Selectman Avi Kaner.

There was also a discussion about the sidewalks in the area and what the sidewalk would be like in front of the house after it is relocated. But Garten said, "I don't know if we should do that right here."

Nevertheless Kaner asked Dewey Loselle, a member of the Kemper-Gunn House Advisory Group and chairman of the Downtown Steering Committee, to get a list of the "Top 20 downtowns in New England" to see if their sidewalks, trees and lighting helped them get on the list.

Selectmen unanimously approved the modifications, contingent on compliance approvals from other relevant town departments.