Three years ago, after living in Westchester County for twenty-five years, Paul Brandes and his wife were ready for a move, though nothing far-flung. With three grown children settled in Manhattan, they wanted to be close enough to visit. A principal with Dan Zelson of Charter Realty and Development, Brandes also wanted to be within easy reach of a major project he is a part of in Westport.
Greenwich presented the perfect destination. “Greenwich offered so much of what we were looking for in terms of a vibrant downtown and a beautiful location,” he says. “And we always spent a lot of time here even when we lived in Westchester, so it didn’t feel like a move far away, just a new chapter in our lives.”
Brandes knows something about vibrant downtowns. Charter Realty and Development is one of the developers of Bedford Square, a massive revitalization project (David Waldman at David Adam Realty is another, and Centerbrook Architects and Planners designed the building). It covers an acre-and-a-half at the entrance to Main Street in Westport, the primary downtown shopping district. Developed largely on the site of a 1920s English Tudor manor donated by the Bedford family and formerly the site of the Westport YMCA, when completed this summer the mixed-use project will house some 100,000 square feet of commercial, retail and office space as well as residential apartments.
A decade and a half in the planning, the project both marks a period in Brandes’ family life and says something about his temperament. “When I started this, my oldest daughter was in elementary school,” he recalls. “She’s now twenty-seven and engaged to be married. Bedford Square is kind of a story of perseverance.”
Brandes would now love to find a similar project in Greenwich, though the odds don’t favor it. “To find that amount of land in Greenwich would be wonderful and incredibly well received,” he says. “But it’s also just incredibly difficult to find, and if you did, others probably would have found it first!”
As of press time, here are some of the tenants coming to Bedford Square.
Anthropologie; Anthropologie Home Store; Anthropologie Spa
BHLDN Bridal Store
Serena & Lilly