Everyone in Darien knows what to expect when driving down the Post Road at certain times of day. The areas myriad shops and restaurants are teeming with people, enjoying the convenience of so much in one area. In short, business there is booming. And many in town would credit a large part of that activity to Penny Glassmeyer.
Penny, a Darien resident for 42 years, started work in 1979 as a housing developer in Norwalk and Darien. She borrowed money from her mother, her uncle, and her German nanny...who kept her money in her mattress, to buy her first five properties. They were a string of apartment buildings, and she used the income from the other four while she renovated one at a time. "[The nanny] moved into one of those apartments in 1986, and she still lives there to this day," she said.
When no one else wants to touch a certain project, a run-down property, Penny has the vision to rebuild it in a way that enhances the whole area, said Jeanne Yurman of the YWCA Darien/Norwalk, a friend of Glassmeyer's.
But from those relatively humble beginnings, her business took off. In 1987, she founded her own company, P&G Developers, and devoted her work to giving back to Darien. At the time, the town was looking for ways to revitalize business downtown. She bought a few homes just north of the Post Road, and set to work putting her vision in action.
Today, those buildings are the Grove Street Plaza, home to such local businesses as the Melting Pot and Espresso Neat, as well as luxury homes and office buildings. Glassmeyer spent 10 years on the project, working with town officials on zoning laws that would help drive other businesses to the town. Many others followed suit, using Grove Street Plaza as a blueprint for combining commercial and residential property.
For her work in Darien, Penny was one of six honorees at the YWCA's Women of Distinction luncheon Thursday. Upon receiving her award, Glassmeyer offered some words of inspiration to others. Each one of you has a gift, she said. And what you need to do is work to identify that gift, so that you can share it with others.
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