Library Bistro owner buys former bank building next door in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — The former Wells Fargo building on North Main Street recently sold for $1.2 million to Joe Gouveia, a local businessman who owns a restaurant next door.

The property at 86 N. Main St. changed hands on Aug. 12. The bank closed three months earlier, shifting operations to another Wells Fargo branch on Route 5.

Gouveia said Tuesday that he plans to convert the building — a two-story structure built in 1965 on 1.09 acres — into mixed residential and commercial space.

He said he wants to build six to nine apartments on the second floor and attract three to four commercial tenants on the ground floor, which is about 5,000 square feet.

“We do not have anybody in particular in mind,” he said about potential retail tenants. “We have (had) a couple of people who approached us about it, but nothing definite.”

He hopes to build an addition in the back of about 1,200 square feet. The entire building is currently about 16,000 square feet total, with about 11,000 square feet of living area.

Gouveia also owns Gouveia Vineyards on Whirlwind Hill Road and The Library Wine Bar and Bistro at 60 N. Main St., which is located to the south of the former bank.

He said one of the big reasons for purchasing the building was to protect The Library’s rear parking area. He said he’s not planning on upgrading the parking lot for now.

The First Baptist Church sits to the north. The building is opposite of the police and fire stations and near the Simpson Court restaurants and stores.

Tim Ryan, the town’s economic development specialist, said Tuesday he looks forward to working with Gouveia on his proposed “adaptive reuse.”

“He’s proven that practically everything he does, he does well,” Ryan said about Gouveia. “His dedication to making it something special will just make it another great asset for the town center.”

Ryan said that mixed use is what town planning and zoning officials have been looking for in town center development.

“His visions are spot on with the uses that the Planning and Zoning Commission has envisioned,” he said.

Local history

The property is the original site of Moses Y. Beach’s summer home, which was built in 1850 and stood for more than a century. An inventor and newspaper publisher, the Wallingford native founded the Associated Press.

The mansion was converted in 1920 into St. George’s Inn, operated by Choate Rosemary Hall for parents and visitors.

In 1958, the New Haven Trust Co. demolished the structure and used the foundation to build a new bank building, designed to mimic the original structure and completed in 1960.

The ornate cast iron gate in front is original to the Beach mansion.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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