State awards Massachusetts downtown initiative grants to 14 communities

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BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) is awarding $210,000 in grants to fourteen communities across the state for projects focused on revitalizing downtown spaces with the support of high-impact consulting services.  The program is offered through the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The Massachusetts Downtown Initiative makes grant awards of $15,000 to communities, to connect grantees to consultants with expertise to pursue downtown revitalization projects in one of seven categories: District Management, Design, Economics of Downtown, Parking, Small Business Support, Way Finding, and Housing.

In partnership with local towns and cities, the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative will also be providing technical assistance in the form of workshops, programs, and professional consultant services as part of a holistic approach to downtown revitalization. These services will provide the framework and tools to continue advancing local improvements beyond the grant program. To date, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded a total of $440,000 in MDI awards to 36 communities. The administration has more than doubled the size of the annual award round since 2015.2017 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative Awards:

Athol will conduct a market analysis designed to fill vacant storefronts, foster business support and develop economic development strategies.

Clinton will develop a wayfinding and branding program that improves circulation and promotes local patronage for downtown businesses.

Danvers will develop a branding and wayfinding program to improve downtown circulation, and connect its town center and to historic and recreational destinations.

Essex will review a mixed-use zoning district, with the goal of encouraging more small businesses and residential development in the town center.

Greenfield will develop schematic designs for streetscape improvements around a new downtown courthouse, and strengthen the connections between businesses, cultural venues, and a regional transit center.

Hull will develop a branding and wayfinding program to promote downtown destinations, and guide visitors to recreational destinations.

Medfield will prepare a parking management plan to accommodate recent and future growth in the downtown.

Palmer will expand on a prior market analysis for the Three Rivers Village, and design marketing materials to help with the recruitment of new small businesses and the marketing of current businesses.

Reading will develop a wayfinding and branding program to direct pedestrians and drivers around Reading’s downtown to promote foot traffic to shops.

Rockland will undertake a downtown planning effort focused on revitalizing the town center and marketing the existing small businesses.

Shelburne will develop a parking management plan to inventory existing parking, assess future parking needs, and recommend zoning changes.

Sunderland will develop a branding and wayfinding program, connecting its town center to local recreational attractions.

West Newbury will hire a consultant to conduct an economic impact analysis measuring the effect of an improved wastewater treatment facility and management plan in the town center.

Williamsburg will conduct a market and feasibility analysis to determine viable private-sector uses for town-owned buildings in the town center.

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