WEST – Dotted with unmanaged wasteland and more than a few run-down shopping centers, Route 1, from the top of Granite Street hill to the edge of Charlestown city, calls for a facelift, officials say.
“I don’t know of anyone who thinks this whole stretch of property along Highway 1 is beautiful or working the way it could be,” Justin Hopkins, chairman of the city’s planning council, said in a recent interview. .
In order to boost the development of the district and bring it closer to neighboring districts, a call for tenders was recently launched among consultants looking for a firm capable of carrying out a diagnosis, recommendations and the formulation of a plan. Efforts to improve both the Route 1 corridor and the city center as a form of economic revitalization are both objectives of the new and revised city master plan.
Ideally, Hopkins said, the Route 1 plan would suggest potential ways to “help better develop or revitalize” the corridor to make it more “walkable and pedestrian-friendly and something that fits into the surroundings. neighborhoods surrounding it ”.
The assessment will include an analysis of each property’s zoning, setback requirements, infrastructure and property history, building / lot condition (including age), building status, occupancy / vacancy, property value and development potential. The capacity of infrastructure, including sewers, water, electricity, wireless and broadband, will also be studied.
The consultant, once selected, will also look at transport and public transport, including trains, buses and the airport; sidewalks, crosswalks, width of streets, parking areas, bicycle access and curbs, as well as routes and timetables for public transport.
“Anyone who travels [the area] recognizes that there have always been layered storefronts with high turnover that are not very well planned and run down in terms of buildings, infrastructure and parking, ”Hopkins said.
Hopkins and Joseph M. Montesano, a member of the Planning Council, are working with James Torres, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, and Douglas Brockway, vice-chairman of the commission, as members of the Route 1 Corridor Committee or ROCC.
Since it is advisory in nature, EDC, Torres said, works closely with the planning board, which makes recommendations to city council and the city manager.
Brockway and Ralph M. Abruzzese, a member of EDC, interviewed approximately 25 business owners and other stakeholders and interested parties to understand visions for the Highway 1 corridor and downtown. Torres summarized the conclusions of the interviews.
“People basically said it was a big city with great potential, but the investments are not coordinated and not as attractive as they could be with the parking deserts, multiple sidewalk cuts and housing. vacant, ”Torres said.
EDC has formulated guiding principles as part of the revitalization effort: protect existing residential neighborhoods, build on existing commercial development and fill gaps where they exist, and consider mixed-use development that allows for combinations. for commercial and residential uses. “So it’s more of a sense of community than a bunch of hyperactive commercial gangs,” Torres said.
The consultant, Torres said, should help determine whether EDC is on the right track and “come up with recommendations on what we should do in the future.”
In addition to an assessment, Torres said, the consultant will provide market analysis and commentary on actions the city could take, such as extending water pipes or using the public sewer system. .
“We want them to give us a plan on how to encourage business development but also a community atmosphere. How are we going to create this? What regulations should we have in place to encourage developers to take this kind of approach? Torres said.
A critical aspect of developing the plan will be soliciting input from residents, Torres said.
“We also want to engage with the community, have discussions and get feedback to make sure this is what the people of the city want,” Torres said.
The request for proposals must be submitted no later than October 5th. The RFP document soliciting applications establishes a nine-month process that begins with a consultant-facilitated meeting of community partners and stakeholders and ends with leading city council working sessions and public hearings. before the adoption of the plan which is scheduled for August.