New Canaan’s highest elected official said last week that the town believes it has a tenant lined up to rent the upper floor of the long-vacant former Outback Teen Center building behind Town Hall.
The town also is “working on a proposal to move Human Services to the lower level of the Outback,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance during their special meeting Oct. 23.
“We think we have a private renter for the upper level,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “We will make that building operate on two separate levels independently. If Human Services does move, we are looking to dispose of the Vine Cottage building.”
The comments came during Moynihan’s general update to the finance board. It wasn’t immediately clear who the likely tenant at Outback is.
The first selectman this summer first shared the idea of moving Human Services into the Outback and selling Vine Cottage. A non-binding five-year capital plan now making its way through New Canaan’s funding bodies assumes that the gabled Main Street structure is not owned by the town in the future, though just what it would become and what allowances or restrictions would be tied to its sale—for example, to preserving its facade or allowing it to be moved—are not known.
The Outback itself, meanwhile, has drawn interest from prospective tenants throughout this year.
The cavernous structure’s future use has been the subject of wide discussion among New Canaanites since the town inherited the building three summers ago from a nonprofit organization that failed to self-sustain as a center for teens. Officials have estimated that it costs New Canaan about $50,000 annually just to maintain the vacant building. Municipal funding bodies in January elected to put off a $50,000 investment in architectural and engineering plans that would be needed in order to make repairs and code-compliant upgrades to it. The town also rejected a proposal to house a new “alternative high school” program during this past budget season, saying New Canaan first must determine whether the Outback can be rented.
Moynihan during his update also noted that the town is “working on Irwin House to make it a center for nonprofits, with enough rent from three or four or five nonprofits to justify using that building as a center for nonprofits.”
He has said in the past that possible tenants there include Staying Put in New Canaan, New Canaan Community Foundation, New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan CARES.