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Facelift Planned for Greenwich Point Gateway

GREENWICH, Conn. – Beachgoers at Greenwich Point are already enjoying the restorations at the Innis Arden Cottage . Now a new plan is in the works to renovate the Old Barn and the surrounding parking area for better and safer access.

“It’s going to be beautiful, historic and very functional, too,” said Christopher Franco, a member of the board of directors for the Greenwich Point Conservancy . The group was formed in 2003 by residents concerned about the deterioration of historical structures at the Point.

The Gateway Project includes restoration of the Old Barn, which was the former home of the Bruce Museum’s Seaside Center; demolition of the 1950s-era brick restroom building; elimination of the parking lot; and a reworking of the area between the cottage and the Old Barn into a landscaped drop-off and pickup area. Three handicapped parking spaces will remain.

“We’re going to lose about 20 parking spaces. We went to the town, and it just so happened the town was doing a program to eliminate some parking spaces farther down by the other concession,” said Franco. “When we approached them they were very supportive of this, and it coincided well with what they were already considering.”

The Old Barn, built in 1887, is the oldest structure at the Point and was used to house livestock by J. Kennedy Tod on the waterfront estate. It is now used for lifeguard storage and food concession. Part of the building was used as the Bruce Museum’s Seaside Center until the cottage opened.

The Old Barn will be stripped down and restored to its original condition, with some improvements. “It will be open front to back,” said Franco. “When you look through it you’ll see the water. Right now, the 1950s brick bathrooms are blocking that great view.”

The area around the Old Barn will include a pavilion, with a food concession, new restrooms, a terrace, and dining area. A lifeguard shack and shower areas, which the Point lacks, will be added.

“I think it will be the best waterfront dining area in Greenwich,” said Franco. “It’s such an underutilized site, and I think it will become a favorite.”

The Gate Lodge that once stood between the Old Barn and Innis Arden Cottage burned down in 1904. Though the lodge will not be rebuilt, stones will be placed flush with the pavement to reference the area where it once stood.

“We also want to do certain things to restore the gateway and make it safer and more user friendly,” says Franco. “When kids come to the seaside center they wander through the parking lot, and it’s just not safe.”

A drop-off and pickup area will be established. The island in the current lot will be extended and landscaped, and a sidewalk will be added. The conservancy is launching a program called “Sign a Stone” in which residents can pay $200 for one of 1,500 inscribed stones on the walkway.

The project will go before the town Representative Town Meeting for approval at its June meeting. If the project receives the go-ahead, Franco says work will begin in the fall to be completed for summer 2013. The $850,000 project will be funded privately and gifted to the town by the conservancy. Plans have been drawn up by Dodaro Ross Architects LLC of Old Greenwich.

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