Vine Cottage

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Public Buildings InfoSheet: Vine Cottage

[Editor’s Note: The following has been prepared in advance of the “Forum on Public Buildings,” to be held 6:30 to 9 p.m. on April 26 at Town Hall (questions for panelists can be submitted here). Most of the information in the bullet points below is drawn from the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee report.]

Built: ca. 1860
Square footage: 2,334
Current uses: Occupied by the New Canaan Department of Human Services
Committee recommendations: Defer a decision on renovation until the future home of the Board of Ed is determined. How other town-owned spaces are used will help inform a decision on the best future home for Human Services. Relevant news articles: Owner: Future of ‘Red Cross Building’ Depends on What Town Does with Vine Cottage (January 2018), ‘They Need To Be Separate’: Town Officials Weigh Future of Human Services’ Vine Cottage Home (October 2017), Seeking Less Costly Option, Town Council Rejects $550,000 Renovation Project at Vine Cottage (March 2017)

With its sunny yellow facade, this large transitional high Victorian gothic revival/Queen Anne building is located next to our Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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Owner: Future of ‘Red Cross Building’ Depends on What Town Does with Vine Cottage

The New Canaan man who last year purchased the ca. 1889-built Red Cross building on Main Street said a decision on just what to do with it—for example, whether to convert vacant structure into a residence or commercial use—depends largely on what the town plans to do with another antique next door. Whatever the town or another future owner of Vine Cottage decides to do with it, no part of Arnold Karp’s vision for 51 Main St. involves tearing down the former Red Cross building, installing condominiums or otherwise changing “the character of the neighborhood,” he said. Yet it wouldn’t make sense to pursue a much-needed overhaul of the building’s interior with a residential use in mind if Vine Cottage is razed for Town Hall parking because “nobody wants to live next to a parking lot.” Similarly, if the ca. Continue Reading →

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‘They Need To Be Separate’: Town Officials Weigh Future of Human Services’ Vine Cottage Home

Should their current base of operations be sold or otherwise offloaded, the municipal employees who work out of Vine Cottage on Main Street likely could not re-locate into Town Hall due to the sensitive nature of their jobs, officials say. Members of the Human Services Department “feel very strongly that they need to be separate from the Town Hall because of confidentiality issues and the clients that they are dealing with,” according to Penny Young, co-chair of the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee. “And that is why they were not incorporated into this redesign of Town Hall,” Young said at the committee’s most recent meeting, held Sept. 28 at Town Hall. “So that needs to stay uppermost in our mind, is their function and their need for being separate from Town Hall.”

It isn’t clear just where the department, whose staff includes senior outreach and social workers, would move to if displaced from Vine Cottage. Continue Reading →

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Seeking Less Costly Option, Town Council Rejects $550,000 Renovation Project at Vine Cottage

Saying they need to understand the building’s long-term purpose first and whether it could be passably restored (and legally occupied) for less money, members of New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night unanimously rejected a proposal to renovate Vine Cottage for $550,000. The Town Council voted 10-0 against the bond issuance during its regular meeting. Councilman Christa Kenin said that though she appreciates the work that Architectural Preservation Studio, DPC put into a more comprehensive plan for the ca. 1860-built gabled structure, “I was a little surprised to see it on the agenda as a request for a bond.”

“It is a sweet house that needs a lot of work,” Kenin said, yet she’s a member of a recently appointed committee that’s been charged with making recommendations about town-owned buildings “and this is one of buildings that is at the top of our list to evaluate.”

“And I think even approving—whether it’s $550,000 or to come back to $100,000 before it falls to the ground—makes the assumption that we are going to hold onto this building, which may or may not be the case six months from now when we study the 44-plus buildings that the town is responsible for,” she said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Ultimately, the Town Council charged New Canaan’s buildings superintendent with figuring out what would be the least costly project at Vine Cottage to make it inhabitable—by the town’s Human Services Department, its current occupant—for the next several months, until the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee comes forward with a recommendation on what to do. Continue Reading →

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‘It is a Beautiful Part of Our Town’: Selectmen Approve Funds for Exterior Restoration of Vine Cottage

Calling Vine Cottage a “beautiful part of our town,” town officials last week approved funds to renovate the exterior of the prominent Main Street structure. It is important that the Town does not tamper with the look of the building, because it blends beautifully into the architecture of New Canaan, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said during a Board of Selectmen meeting. With Mallozzi, Selectmen Beth Jones and Nick Williams gave unanimous approval for the New Canaan Department of Public Works to enter into a $43,500 contract with Manhattan-based Architectural Preservation Studio, which has an office on Pine Street in New Canaan . According to Bill Oestmann, buildings and fleet superintendent for the DPW, the most recent renovation of the Vine Cottage was, “about 12, 15 years ago and mostly that was all interior work.”

However, this upcoming renovation will be focused on the exterior renovation of porches, windows and siding. “Ninety-nine percent of this project is exterior,” Oestmann said during the meeting, held May 17 at Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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