Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Born Again Town Centers

I want to hear more about this: a loose plan that calls for more redevelopment around town centers. I'm a hard-core proponent of revamping what we already have, instead of just building further and further away from the metropolitan area. Let's encourage more low and medium income housing, a reduction of energy costs, environmental friendliness and more public transit. Let's also encourage the vibrant culture these areas are filled with that McMansions with hour-long commutes to get anywhere will never offer.

Of the many places I eventually may consider moving to, I seriously dig the idea of those nifty lofts that were once old factories in brink cities like Lynn and New Bedford. We need to encourage the development of the old urban centers of smaller cities and even towns; it's a life that would well suit me. One of the keys to fostering a better environment for these cities is to get new people willing to move into them - quality, affordable housing, surrounded by lots of culture (restaurants, galleries, theatres, etc. ) is one way to do that. With more people, of mixed income, moving into these areas - suddenly communities will see all-around improvements. Everything's linked to housing, from the schools our kids are enrolled at to the commutes we choose to live. All of those things can be improved if there's some serious planning at the state and local levels, focused on revitalizing town and urban centers. Hopefully reports such as the one I linked will lead to more revitalization of towns and cities in ways that just make sense across Massachusetts.


Mass Marrier said...

I agree. You would have supposed we would have learned that lesson after the post-WWII era. Those soulless suburbs and housing developments were clear warnings.

The community of local businesses, to which many can even walk, is generally superior. Even Jamaica Plain has retained much of its old town center, despite the loss of the classic Woolworth. Cities like Lowell that have revitalized their centers have seen the benefit even on their larger scale.

We can't prevent those who insist on hiding from reality and community from avoiding town centers. Those who stick around, aid in the redevelopment, or move back as it takes place can benefit.

Ryan Adams said...

Hopefully, by showing it can work, more and more towns will choose to follow suit. Of course, offerring incentives at the state level can't hurt either.

Joyce M. said...

Some communities have already begun the process of smart growth development including Beverly on the North Shore. With just a 30 minute commuter rail ride into Boston, lots of folks are moving into new condos around Beverly Depot. The restaurant and arts scene in downtown Beverly is great plus there is lots to do from an outdoor activity perspective.

We need more developers (such as Windover which is already doing smart growth projects) and city/town leaders to not just talk about smart growth, but to actually make it happen.

Ryan Adams said...

downtown beverly does look pretty cool

Anonymous said...

Worcester actually has a few projects going downtown. In five years the landscape should change quite a bit. If interested now is the time to do some real estate speculation.

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