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Phil Noel/Staff photographer The Brick Walk is undergoing major renovations which include improvements to make the buildings more environmentally friendly.

There's the new shops, like Jos. A Bank and Trek. New restaurants, like Obika, a mozzarella bar franchise that can be found worldwide. There's the upscale apartments, with multiple terraces.

Kenneth Kleban, of Kleban Properties, is excited by it all, as the transformation of the Brick Walk draws closer to completion. But Kleban and architects John Franzen and David Woitowitz are equally excited by the things that might not be quite as obvious to the naked eye in the $75 million investment.

Kleban points to the slate roof on the new buildings on the Post Road. That slate roof is actually rubber and made up of 80 percent recycled post-industrial rubber and plastic, things like car bumpers and baby diaper production remnants. "I used it on my house," Kleban said.

Woitowitz brings attention to the light poles in the parking lots, that are topped with solar panels, and talks enthusiastically about the storm drainage system for the 7-plus acre site. "What we have in this parking lot is all the roof and surface water run-off is collected into two pump collectors," he said. "The system is tied to 2,000 feet of underground piping, and it gets put back into the groundwater, not the city sewer system. It stays on the property."

Some of the water collected is also used in the property's irrigation system to maintain the landscaping.

Even the lamps illuminating the underground garage and the elevators in the buildings are energy efficient.

"We've


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built it under LEED standards," Kleban said, although the project has not gone through the audit yet to provide it with LEED certification.

As the construction begins to wind down, and the shops and apartments start to fill, Kleban said they've made efforts to keep their existing tenants happy and in place while the work is going on.

For example, Towne Cleaners, which was located in a two-story building at 1139 Post Road and will be going into new space at 1241 Post Road, has been given temporary space rent-free until the new building is ready.

Men's clothier Jos. A Bank has already opened, as has Panera Bread, Tombo, a hibachi restaurant, and Fidelity Investments. Work is continuing on the spaces that will house Trek, a bicycle shop, and Obika. Obika will bring to six the number of restaurants in the Brick Walk.

They're trying, Kleban said, to get just the right mix of tenants and extend what many consider Fairfield Center even farther east on the Post Road. Fairfield Stationers, which was next to the old Mercurio's on the Post road, will be one of those new tenants.

But don't worry, Kleban said. "It's not that we're trying to steal away tenants; we own that building too," he said. "We're just trying to extend the downtown. It was shrinking for the last 20 years," Franzen said.

Next to the Trek store will be New England Multisport, a store selling women's athletic apparel and related items. "That's something that doesn't exist in Fairfield Center right now," Kleban said.

They want to make sure they keep with a "lifestyle concept" Kleban said. "It's really coming together," he said.

As the project progresses, they "keep tweaking and keep adjusting and inventing," Woitowitz said. For example, there was going to be a third floor of apartments above Jos. A Bank, but that third floor has now morphed into office space.

There are already tenants for the second-floor apartments, which include fireplaces, a master bedroom suite, terraces and walk-in closets. Kleban declined to disclose the rent for the apartments -- two one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units.

The new buildings are linked by parking and brick walkway, or as Kleban calls it, a promenade.

"We've really spared no expense," Kleban said, remarking on the entire project to upgrade the Brick Walk.

"We knew going in this wasn't going to a money maker -- of course you don't want to lose money -- but we want to bring up the entire center. A rising tide helps all the boats; it will come back to us in time."