Under sunny skies Wednesday, the exterior shell of the oil tank at the Gault family-owned property in Saugatuck was dismantled. The remaining portion of the oil tank was to be taken down Thursday,

reported a foreman with A. Pappajohn Company Construction, the Norwalk-based outfit working at the site.

As workers broke the tank's shell into smaller pieces, an excavator picked them up and placed them onto a flatbed truck for removal. Nearby, an excavator was distributing dirt in the area of the site that will become one of two entry points into the Saugatuck Center mixed-used development.

The 4-acre redevelopment project is the work of Hamilton Development, Gault's real estate division. Saugatuck Center is expected to be built in phases, with the first set for completion in early 2011. It will feature traditional New England style architecture designed by Norwalk-based Beinfield Architecture PC.

The dismantling of the oil tank comes two weeks after construction crews demolished Derosa's Italian Restaurant, a fixture of the area for more than 30 years. Additional structures in the area were also taken down in the last few weeks.

Already, signs up in the area are advertising space availability for the "Marsh" and "Tide," waterside buildings that will house 4,000 square feet of retail space on the street level, as well as 5,000 square feet of office space overlooking the water and six residential apartments on the second floor.

"This is a very exciting time for the Town of Westport and the village of Saugatuck," said Rick Redniss, principal of the Stamford-based land use consulting firm Redniss and Mead. "Even before breaking ground, Saugatuck Center has become a role model for the kind of small-scale, well-balanced, transit-oriented, multi-purpose, traditional neighborhood development that will be the hallmark of smart growth and new urbanism in the 21st century. When it's completed, Saugatuck Center will be a true gem of Westport, giving both the street and the riverfront back to the people."