Sunday, July 31, 2011

Five Better Places for Economic Development

So as I discussed in the last post Boston's Urban Land Institute is donating its service to the Fall River Office of Economic Development. FROED has decided the best place to focus these services on is a roughly 70 acre parcel owned by the Atlantis Charter School. Now coincidentaly I wrote my post a week after the article originally appeared in the Herald News and I noted that there had been no confirmation that Atlantis Charter would even consider selling. Hours after I posted the Herald had a new article saying that ACS would indeed consider selling if the deal was good for Fall River.

The fact that Atlantis Charter is willing to sell makes FROED's plan more plausible but (in my opinion) there are five locations that the Urban Land Institutes's service could be better put to use.

1. Weaver's Cove - Now that LNG is no longer being considered finding ways to market the former Shell Oil site has to be a priority for Fall River and you would think for FROED.

2. The Waterfront - There has been LOTS of discussion about developing Fall River's waterfront and a lot of back and forth about the right and wrong way to do it. Why not use ULI's expertise to come up with a plan to market and develop our waterfront.

3. Downtown - If there is any part of Fall River that needs some expertise to market and develop it's downtown. Perhaps ULI could come up with ways to help market Fall River's downtown and revitalize it in ways we often discuss but so far have not found a way to do.

4. Former School Property - The one thing we've all learned about our city council is they can't sell schools. The city is "blessed" with a surplus of interesting old school buildings that all require unique and innovative ways to market them. Perhaps FROED could have partnered with the City Council to use the ULI resources to find the best uses for each building and the best way to market them.

5. Weaver Street Mills - This is my own personal soft spot. You see for the past 10 years I have had jobs that have had me going up Route 79 and onto Route 24 (and of course back again). I have been driving by these mills for years and for years I have thought that they were perfectly placed for development. Not self storage or warehouses but office space some retail, loft apartments. Now with a new bridge ready to open this area seems even more tangible to market. Also marketing THIS area could tie in to revitalizing the Brightman Street area that has been devastated by the traffic changes dictated by the new bridge.

Lefty's View: Even if ACS is willing to sell that doesn't mean they will sell. Why invest resources to market and develop a site when there are other sites that area where marketing and development are sure to have an impact?

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