Westport, CT. May 1, 2019 … The Coalition for Westport (CFW) sponsored a public forum on the future of Downtown Westport on May 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at The Visual Brand, 56 Church Lane, Westport.
The forum, which was open to the public, featured 3 principal speakers with experience and expertise in regional and local retail and development trends and techniques for creating a twenty-first century downtown.
The presentations were followed by questions, comments and discussion.
Participants are: David Kooris, Deputy Commissioner, CT Economic and Community Development (DECD), Randy Herbertson, President, Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Joseph McGee, VP, Public Policy & Programs, The Business Council of Fairfield County. Julie Belaga, a Coalition member will moderate the program which will be introduced by Ken Bernhard, Coalition Vice Chair.
Challenged by on-line retailing and the probable effects of the soon-to-open Norwalk Mall, store vacancies and turnover on Main Street and other parts of downtown are occurring more frequently.
“The Coalition is hoping to jump-start and contribute to a public discussion about the need to plan for the future of downtown Westport, and consideration of alternatives to chain store retailing”, explained Denise Torve, CFW spokesperson. “The Coalition is eager to learn how other communities similarly affected have tackled the problem, with what results, and what Westport might do by way of planning and regulatory changes to address the issue”.
Downtown Westport, with its enviable location on the riverfront, should be an attractive destination, not only for shoppers, but for families seeking dining, entertainment, art, recreation and shared experience. The Coalition believes that a commitment to innovative planning and a more welcoming and targeted regulatory scheme is required.
Randy Herbertson founded The Visual Brand (TVB), an entrepreneurial agency of creative and strategic professionals to collaborate with clients to develop breakthrough ideas and move business forward. As President, Westport Downtown Merchants Association, a non-profit organization of landlords, merchants and business owners, Randy’s goal is the improvement and growth of the commerce and culture of Downtown Westport.
David Kooris has worked on urban revitalization and downtown redevelopment in communities large and small facing a diverse range of challenges and opportunities worldwide including Canada, Peru, Spain, Morocco, Australia, and Taiwan.
Joe McGee is Co-Chair of the CT Commission on Economic Competitiveness and a member of the Commission on Judicial Selection. His major focus at the Fairfield County Business Council is the development of high-speed commuter rail.
Members of the public were invited to attend and participate in this timely event.
This is the first in a series of Forums addressing different topics.