Former Laura’s Landing building in center of downtown Pawcatuck sells to California man

Former Laura’s Landing building in center of downtown Pawcatuck sells to California man


PAWCATUCK — A building considered key to the redevelopment of downtown Pawcatuck was sold Tuesday to a California resident.

Philip Becker, of Glendale, Calif., bought the building that housed the former Laura’s Landing cafe at 34 West Broad St. for $360,000, according to Calvin Utter, an agent with William Raveis Real Estate. Utter represented the seller, Helene Fox Blackall, of Stonington. Becker was represented by Lisa Major, a real estate agent with Baxter Realty of Oakdale, Conn.

Blackall had owned the building with her husband, Frederick S. Blackall, since Oct. 20, 1994, when they purchased it for $120,000. The property was initially listed for $438,800 and includes 160 feet of frontage on the Pawcatuck River.

The 10,000-square-foot building includes the two-story Walton Block built in 1922 and an adjoining three story brick building. The property is in a prominent location and has been considered a key to improving the economic viability of Pawcatuck’s retail center.

“The building has a tremendous amount of potential in terms of what it can do to bolster the redevelopment of downtown Pawcatuck; it is the linchpin,” said Lisa Konicki, president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. “This is probably the most significant sale in downtown, commercial Pawcatuck history in the past 25 years.”

The Blackall family paid $10,955 in back taxes.

The sale comes on the heels of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s passage of the new PV-5, or Pawcatuck Village, zone in downtown Pawcatuck, which will take effect on Oct. 9. The area was previously zoned DB-5, or Development Area, which restricted development with certain regulations. The new zone is intended to open up investment opportunities by allowing increased residential density for mixed-use development.

In March, the Economic Development Commission determined the town would receive about $225,000 to $470,000 of increased annual tax revenue if 25 to 50 percent of the properties in the new zone were redeveloped.

First Selectman Rob Simmons said Thursday that the Board of Selectmen, the town planning department and the Economic Development Commission worked to create new zoning for downtown Pawcatuck so that the area could achieve its potential.

“There’s tremendous promise in Pawcatuck Village and the PV-5 zoning is going to assist us in realizing that promise,” he said.

Utter said the property was on the market for about six months and the new PV-5 zoning played a significant role in ramping up interest.

“When the sellers made their determination to accept Mr. Becker’s offer, we had five offers on the table, so it did get into a bidding war at the end,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a very significant moment for Pawcatuck to have that building and that piece of the waterfront, especially, redeveloped.”

Becker did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Because of its location, the building represents the gateway to Pawcatuck, the town and the state, Konicki said. “Its placement as the first property that greets you when you enter the State of Connecticut and the Town of Stonington makes it a very significant landmark,” Konicki said.

The riverfront location of the building also creates unblocked views of the river and the landscape of Westerly and Stonington, she said.

“I’ve been upstairs and through every corner of the building and it has some of the most incredible views you can imagine from the top floor,” she said. “You can see up and down both sides of the Pawcatuck River, so if that ends up being condos or somebody’s apartment, they’re going to have a very special place.”

The purchase of the building will also inspire additional, long-needed investment in the downtown area, she said.

“This one can really turn the tide on what’s been a kind of a stagnating process for revitalizing downtown Pawcatuck,” she said. “It’s a new day for Pawcatuck.”

Utter expressed similar sentiments, saying he had been waiting for the building to be redeveloped for years.

“It’s going to change the game for Pawcatuck,” he said. “I was very happy to go over and slap a sold sign up on the listing sign today.”

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