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From Stamps to Seasonal Sales, Where is The Ave headed?

The Ave's historic post office building has been sold to a real estate developer who specializes in retail spaces.

The recent sale of the lovely, Neoclassical-style building, which houses the Greenwich Postal Service to a local real estate magnate, who is rumored to have large retail plans for the space, has me wondering about the way we currently utilize and worse, appreciate our historical buildings.

While I understand the financial practicalities: the Post Office was losing money and the 17,000-square foot space was no longer affordable given their daily operations, I believe that the building's history and evident prominence on the Avenue lent a gravitas to its inhabitants which, was was befitting of a Post Office and its civic-minded endeavor. That said, I am somewhat concerned for the building's future in the hands of Greenwich Retail LLC.

Perhaps it's my childhood view of Greenwich that has me feeling a bit empty towards this turnover of another notable structure to the world of commercialization. Yet, I can't help but shake my head at the idea of another high-end retailer obtaining such architectural distinction on the Avenue? Shouldn't that building actually DO or BE something with a more community-minded intention than further material consumption?

While it's perfectly common to see buildings of former glory refashioned into modern spaces in cities - where historic buildings are in abundance - it feels somewhat jarring out here in pseudo-suburbia, particularly given the scarcity of Greenwich Avenue's truly historic structures, those like the Post Office Building, which are on the National Register of Historic Places list. I can't help but feel this recent sale is an epochal one, highlighting the Avenue's singular focus on the consumerism.

Fortunately, the sale does come with a very important provision; that the new owner must preserve the building's neoclassical facade and ensure its eligibility on  the National Register. Furthermore, the Connecticut Historic Preservation and Musuem Division will have to approve and changes that would affect the building's historic features, which translates into loads of paperwork and headaches for any major expansion plans.

So, whether the building becomes Bergdorf's Greenwich-Outpost or a gleaming, new Louis Vuitton, I am pleased that the historic elegance of the building will remain. I can only hope the building's prominence puts an onus on the new owners to find something deserving of such singular distinction.

I'd love to hear from readers what they'd like to see in that space. Personally, I'd love them to turn it into an atrium-style gourmet eatery with cafe tables surrounded by various gourmet food stands and small, independent shops. And free-wifi, of course!

Nick October 21, 2011 at 04:40 PM
I'm just happy that it's not going to be another bank. I see that the old pet shop on Amagerone is already undergoing renovations to be the new Post Office - they've gutted the place. Any word one what happened to Thataway Cafe and what's to become of that prime space?
Serena Rene Urrata January 05, 2012 at 03:02 PM
You could not have said it better!!!A cafe or coffee house with free wi-fi would blow starbucks out of the water ( or off the Avenue.) I would much prefer to meet friends and socialize at the old post office. That would be the most useful and used community minded purpose I could think of. I hope it does not go in the clothing or accessories direction. We certainly have enough high end fashion retailers on Greenwich Avenue. Enough Already. We need to bring culture back to Greenwich Avenue. I was devasted when the old movie theater went in that direction. I envisioned an art house movie theater, like the one they have in Darien. Greenwich should be a leader in cultural activities. Why should residents have to go to other towns to do something fun on a Friday night? It's sad that in this economy when people should be shopping less that the only to do on Greenwich Avenue is buy consumer goods. I hope Greenwich Retail LLC could think of something better to do with that building aside from filling it with goods only the wealthiest residents can afford, they would attract a much larger consumer base to the location and everyone would surely appreciate it.
Irma OBrien March 15, 2012 at 03:21 AM
We need a year round indoor farmers type market where people can gather and have a coffee, grab some pancakes,have a small bookstore, a cheese shop, ice cream shop, wonderful homemade soups, jellies, jams, soaps, baked goods all made in CT. Something like Chelsea Market? It will be a great place to meet up with friends, especially in the winter months. Starbucks is just too small and cramped.I di d hear Restoration Hardware is going to occupy the space. Like we are going to all run there to buy their pricey and large scale furnishings... right. Isn't it enough to have the one that already exists? It is sad when the person who buys the building is not interested in adding to the community except for paying the property taxes...
Leslie Yager March 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Irma! Yes, to Indoor farmers market! Driving to Gilbertie's in Westport on Wednesdays is fun, but waste of gas...
David Rafferty March 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM
While everyone waits like Godot for the return of old fashioned New England charm on the Avenue, can I interest you in taking a look at Old Greenwich this spring? There are several places to kick back and relax while you eat, a couple of new home design shops opening, benches on the sidewalks, and yes, even a farmers market returning for its second year (check www.oldgreenwichfarmersmarket.com to get opening dates). Greenwich Avenue is now "The Avenue," kinda like "The Westchester."

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