Back in 1887, it was the old livestock barn on the J. Kennedy Tod estate—now Greenwich's premiere waterfront park: Greenwich Point.
Over the years, it has been the lifeguard station and first concession stand at the 147-acre park, only a few hundred feet from the park's entrance.
Now it's the focus of the latest project of the Greenwich Point Conservancy (GPC) in a private-public partnership with the Town of Greenwich. On Thursday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously granted municipal improvement status to the proposed renovation and restoration of the 2,200 square foot building.
The approval now allows the GPC to file its plans with the Planning and Zoning Commission and other town agencies, seeking approval and permits for the project that will transform the entrance to the park that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The plan is restore the buildng to its original configuration with a stone and shingle exterior, with the center section to be open from front to back, offering waterviews through the building. The project also will include American with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms; and the concession stand and its kitchen area. There also will be an open terrace on the beach side of the building with dining tables and chairs.
The project—estimated to cost $650,000— also is to include creation of a new traffic circle between the Innis Arden Cottage and the restored barn for pick up and drop off area with handicapped parking, according to Chris Franco, GPC president. The GPC has raised most of the money and has pledges totalling the $650,000 pricetag, Franco said.
The one-story brick building that houses the restrooms next to the concession stand will be demolished. According to Franco, the structure was built in 1887 as a livestock barn for Tod's estate. In 1899, Tod had the building that is now the concession stand, converted into a pro shop for the golf course he built on the estate. And the restroom building was added sometime in the 1950s, according to Monelli.
Franco said he was pleased with the selectmen's vote and that his group will continue to move forward—with the selection of a contractor the next step. "We haven't formally chosen one but we are close," Franco said.
The construction timetable is contingent upon the town's permit approval process. "When we start is when we get our permits from the town. We have to go through the P&Z process ...," Franco said. Franco said he is hopeful that the permits will be granted so construction can begin early next year.
He expects the project to take "6 to 12 months ... hopefully closer to 6 months. We are trying to get the bulk of the work started before the beach season starts so it's not distracting to people."
But Alan Monelli, the town's superintendent of buildings, said a more realistic timeline might be closer to a year. He said he expects that if all town permits are approved, that the north concession stand will not be operational for most of the 2013 beach season.
"It's a pretty cool project," Monelli said. "I think it'll change the way the Point is perceived. It will be more open and welcoming."
This will be the second project the GPC has undertaken at Greenwich Point in a private-public partnership with the town. Last year, it completed the renovation of the Innis Arden building—formerly known as the Queen Anne building—which houses the Bruce Museum's Seaside Center and the Floren Family Environmental Center.