For the Connecticut Main Street Center, a greater role in the advancement of downtowns across Connecticut is bringing both recognition and a facelift. The organization, recently selected by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA) to receive the 2013 Education & Outreach Award for its "Come Home to Downtown" initiative, is launching a new branding initiative to match its more visible role supporting the state’s municipal main street initiatives.
Their new, updated logo reflects the changing face of the state’s downtowns, one that commands attention and respect for being forward-thinking while preserving the integrity and values of the past. At CMSC, “we'll continue to promote the Four Point Approach to downtown management while also championing innovations in transit and sustainable design, promoting our local businesses and attractions, and advocating for mixed-use development that integrates housing with a diversity of uses, cultures and incomes.”
Through the Come Home to Downtown program, which just concluded its pilot year, CMSC and its team of expert consultants worked with community leaders, local stakeholders, and downtown management groups to educate them on the value and potential of mixed-use development. The organization also sought input and feedback from the public at community meetings held in each of the towns on the plans for redeveloping the model buildings and the demand for downtown housing.
CMSC chose three communities – Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury – as well as three property owners and their buildings as the focus of the program’s in augural year. It is a pilot program aimed at facilitating viable, interesting housing opportunities while revitalizing downtown neighborhoods by providing customized technical assistance to communities and owners of small, under-utilized downtown properties.
CMSC worked with municipal officials and the building owners to develop viable redevelopment options including: determining what financing would likely be needed for redevelopment; performing an assessment of zoning and regulatory requirements; reviewing the downtown management function; and measuring the downtown's walkability.
Specific recommendations for improving the buildings, including a recommended floor plan designed to attract new residents and bring market rate housing downtown, was also provided to each property owner. Once rehabilitated, these buildings are expected to create 60 new units of rental housing in downtown Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury, as well as make approximately 25,000 square feet of commercial and retail space available. The total development cost to renovate all three buildings is estimated to be $11.4 million.
The 2013 Education & Outreach Award was presented to CMSC at CCAPA's Annual Award Luncheon last month. CCAPA is the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, the national organization of professional planners and citizens involved in planning communities. CCAPA is dedicated to advancing the practice of good planning in Connecticut. Every year, CCAPA solicits nominations for notable planning projects in a variety of categories from public service and citizen planners to physical development and plan implementation.