Last week, Boston-based think tank MassINC released “Transformative redevelopment: strategic state policy for Gateway City growth and renewal,” a report that recommends new–and big–public investments to spur private development in the state’s smaller industrial cities like Fall River and New Bedford. How big? The price tag on MassINC’s policy recommendations is $1.7 billion, but the authors suggest that this would net a return of $3.4 billion and over 80,000 new jobs.
What would transformative redevelopment look like? One example that comes to mind is New Bedford’s North End, generally defined as the area north of Coggeshall Street extending to Brooklawn Park and bordered by the Acushnet River and Ashley Boulevard. This area has seen a major influx of public dollars through the MassWorks program, which provided $3.2 million to develop a stretch of Acushnet Avenue into an “international marketplace.” This investment has resulted in ongoing improvements to the streetscape, which is anticipated to bolster businesses and residents working and living along this corridor while attracting visitors, new development, and the dollars that both will bring. Will this investment prove “transformative”? It’s not yet apparent, but the recent rehabilitation of several previously vacant mills into loft apartments suggests that the private investment is happening, and if these trends continue, the North End may look and feel like a much different place in the next 10-15 years.
Check out MassINC’s report here, and if you want to continue the exercise of applying the North End’s redevelopment to their concept of transformative redevelopment, check out this video on plans for that neighborhood.