A new era is set to begin at the Westport Inn, which will be transformed under a renovation plan that won unanimous approval Thursday night from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

After receiving initial backing for the project from the commission last year, the inn's parent company, 1595 Post Equities, submitted a modified plan that calls for construction of a ballroom. More substantial redevelopment, including two new wings at the inn, is proposed at a yet-to-be determined time.

The changes are essentially the same as those outlined in the original plan. But instead of carrying out the project all at one time, Post Equities will now pursue a phased redevelopment.

Sheldon Stein, whose firm is overseeing the project, told the Westport News last month that if the revised redevelopment plan were approved by the P&Z that work on the ballroom would begin this winter. The staggered approach to the building schedule, he said, is a reflection of the slow economy.

"We're looking for the economy to recover. The hotel industry really is in quite a recession now," he said. "We can't really invest the many millions rebuilding in an environment where hotel demand is still down substantially."