Brunswick School is Prospective Purchaser of Carmel Property on Lake Ave

The town of Greenwich Planning & Zoning commission’s Sept 20 meeting agenda features a pre- application from Brunswick School to operate their Early Childhood Center at 270 Lake Ave.

Brunswick is now the prospective purchaser of the 16+ acre property.

Specifically they seek to discuss the renovation of 3 buildings for their Early Childhood Center, and, the longer run they would seek to renovate 8 other buildings, maintaining existing building footprints and with minimal changes to the exteriors in order to provide faculty housing for about 20 faculty members. The gymnasium and chapel would also be preserved.

The property is located in the RA-2 zone.

The first school to operate on the property was Rosemary Hall, a private school for girls that opened there in 1900.

Per a letter from Brunswick’s attorney Chip Haslun, the school anticipates an initial enrollment of approximately 150 students, comprised of 50 pre-K, 50 Kindergarten and 50 nursery school students. All students would be dropped off and picked up, on a staggered basis, by parents via the campus entrance at Lake Ave. About 30 teachers would access campus via the other entrance, which is on The Ridgeway.

Approvals for school use on the property, which run with the land, cap enrollment at 450. Brunswick would agree to cap enrollment at 250 students. After school and weekend activities would be minimal. Brunswick would agree to a condition that the campus not be used by any other entity than the school.

A letter to P&Z director Katie DeLuca from Mr. Haslun, on behalf of the applicant, states the campus chapel has long, but only occasionally, been used for weddings by neighbors and Rosemary Hall alumnae and their families. Brunswick would ask to be able to continue that tradition.

“Brunswick believes that, in addition to providing an opportunity to further Brunswick’s educational goal, this proposal would both preserve this historic campus while ameliorating many of the issues associated with its prior use,” Haslun wrote.

In 2021 Chabad Lubavitch, who was then a tenant and contract purchaser of the property from Carmel Academy went before P&Z several times with a proposal to use the property for their preschool program.

Carmel previously ran a school on the property since 2006, but closed in spring 2020 and rented the property to Chabad.

In Sept 2021, Rock Ridge Association’s attorney Jackie Kaufman said that the 100-year-old association was exercising their right to first refusal on the property. Rock Ridge Association is situated at the base of the Lake Ave circle and includes 36 residential properties, plus two school campuses – the Eagle Hill School and the campus owned by Carmel.

Ms Kaufman said the association members had ongoing concerns about traffic and that there had been numerous noise complaints. She said there had been a dramatic change in use from the original school use approved back in the 80s, and an increased intensity of activity in the neighborhood. She talked about “institutional creep.”

In December 2021 word emerged that there was a new contract buyer, Alan Breed.

After a December 2021 P&Z meeting, Rabbi Yosi Deren from Chabad wrote to GFP that he had learned that Carmel Academy had signed a contract to sell the property to Mr. Breed. “We are speaking with our advisors, community partners, and supporters to evaluate alternatives in light of our prior agreements with Carmel.  We remain focused on our goal of – G-d willing – establishing a permanent home for Jewish education in Greenwich, on this campus.”

(New Buyer of Lake Ave Campus Poses Challenge for Chabad Dec 20, 2021)

In January 2022, the property owner rescinded their authorization to allow the application to go forward and Chabad withdrew their application.

Fast forward to today.

Chabad is also on the P&Z Sept 20 meeting agenda with their proposal to add students to their preschool at 75 Mason and 6 Lincoln, where they returned after the purchase of 270 Lake Ave didn’t work out.

The two properties are adjacent, and Chabad seeks to merge them. They also seek to relocate their playground from the corner of Lincoln and Mason to the rear of 6 Lincoln.

Both properties are still listed online for sale as a mixed-use investment property with 75 Mason priced at $3,600,000 and 6 Lincoln at $2,550,000.

At the Sept 8 P&Z meeting the commission asked the applicant, Chabad, for reports from the Fire Marshal’s office, for the applicant to address an open Sewer Division issue, and for a detailed plan for drop off and pick up procedures.

Rabbi Deren and Maryashie Deren said they had piloted their drop off and pick up earlier in the day and described it as successful.

Also on the agenda is a proposal for a walled patio adjacent to the building at 100 West Putnam Ave. The property sold in May to Apollo for $203,500,000. That application previously came before the commission at their July 19 meeting. At that time, several commissioners did not react favorably to the proposal, and said they worried it would set a precedent.

There is an interesting application from Louie’s Italian Restaurant on the River Road Extension in Cos Cob for 36 outdoor dining seats with a 12’ x 30’ tent covering 20 seats (5 tables), heaters and plastic barriers. According to the staff report, a tent is apparently already in use.

The staff report says that based on discussion with the applicant, there are 118 seats inside, of which 105 are tables seats and 13 are bar stools. The applicant is willing to eliminate a portion of indoor seats during outdoor dining season.

Yet another interesting application on the agenda is from Trustees of the Convent of the Sacred Heart and White Pains Rugby Football Club to install four temporary trailer mounted lights for use by the Rugby Club and the school from September to November and March until May at the campus on King Street.

The link to the Sept 20 P&Z meeting agenda is here.

The link to the Zoom meeting is here.

The meeting starts at 4:00pm.