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The Voice of Reason

PROPOSED: Bristols new downtown

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Eight buildings on 17 acres? This doesn't sound particularly urban at all - trolley or not.

Cities and towns like Bristol, New Britain, Meriden, etc. should stop trying to find the silver bullet and look to already proven blueprints for downtown revitilization. Our regional example is Middletown, which got the fundamentals right: safety was addressed with a downtown police station, scale and a continuous streetwall were preserved, additional parking lots/garages were not constructed, and mixed uses were encouraged. The result was a regeneration from within, growth built by existing residents - for existing residents.

There are many, many ways Bristol could redevelop this land, but a pseudo-urban mega development will inevitably have to rely on out of town dollars (wealthier suburbs) and novelty, meaning that unless the success is quickly capitalized on the concept has no legs.

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Eight buildings on 17 acres? This doesn't sound particularly urban at all - trolley or not.

Cities and towns like Bristol, New Britain, Meriden, etc. should stop trying to find the silver bullet and look to already proven blueprints for downtown revitilization. Our regional example is Middletown, which got the fundamentals right: safety was addressed with a downtown police station, scale and a continuous streetwall were preserved, additional parking lots/garages were not constructed, and mixed uses were encouraged. The result was a regeneration from within, growth built by existing residents - for existing residents.

There are many, many ways Bristol could redevelop this land, but a pseudo-urban mega development will inevitably have to rely on out of town dollars (wealthier suburbs) and novelty, meaning that unless the success is quickly capitalized on the concept has no legs.

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If New Britain could bridge the gap a bit between downtown and Central, it too could draw some of the vitality from the college....

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If New Britain could bridge the gap a bit between downtown and Central, it too could draw some of the vitality from the college....

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This development sounds like it has some good aspects, but I just don't know how confident I am in it yet. We'll have to wait and see about this one. Should be interesting though.

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Central does have some stuff downtown, right near where the D&L used to be, I want to say it's their business school, but I really don't know.

Back on topic, I was in Bristol the other day and I was aghast at what's going on at the end of Rte 72. There was a LARGE swath of land that was cleared out and it cut heavily into the town for miles. I called my brother-in-law, a native of Bristol and he said they are finally extending Rt 72 like they were supposed to 50 years ago. This appears to be an attempt to get people closer to downtown and current businesses, at least according to the article in todays Courant. If someone else can link it, that would be great, my internet signal is not great at this current moment...

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Eight buildings on 17 acres? This doesn't sound particularly urban at all - trolley or not.

Cities and towns like Bristol, New Britain, Meriden, etc. should stop trying to find the silver bullet and look to already proven blueprints for downtown revitilization. Our regional example is Middletown, which got the fundamentals right: safety was addressed with a downtown police station, scale and a continuous streetwall were preserved, additional parking lots/garages were not constructed, and mixed uses were encouraged. The result was a regeneration from within, growth built by existing residents - for existing residents.

There are many, many ways Bristol could redevelop this land, but a pseudo-urban mega development will inevitably have to rely on out of town dollars (wealthier suburbs) and novelty, meaning that unless the success is quickly capitalized on the concept has no legs.

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Sorry to disagree with you but Middletown did construct several new parking garages in the past several years in order to add parking. They were just smart enough to not do it directly on Main Street.

I agree with the discussion that it is difficult for non-academic cities to thrive. Not sure how it can be done effectively. Jay

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Sorry to disagree with you but Middletown did construct several new parking garages in the past several years in order to add parking. They were just smart enough to not do it directly on Main Street.

I agree with the discussion that it is difficult for non-academic cities to thrive. Not sure how it can be done effectively. Jay

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If New Britain could bridge the gap a bit between downtown and Central, it too could draw some of the vitality from the college....

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As someone who grew up in Meriden, I can safely say that it is the example of everything NOT to do in revitalizing a downtown.

On the main topic, another thing that Middletown has going for it is the fact that east/west traffic through the city is funneled right through the middle of the downtown, rather than past it via a highway. Heck, even the north/south traffic on rte. 9 still has to stop right next to the down town. Compare that with a Meriden or a New Britain where all the traffic passing though the town never even sees the city's downtown.

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There's a delicate balance between turning a town's main street into a speedway and funneling traffic through. I live in Wallingford and am grateful that some of the junk that Rt. 5 attracts (used car dealers, gas stations) isn't on our main street. A good main street has to have slow enough traffic for pedestrians to feel safe and for people driving through to be going slowly enough to see things they want to stop for.

Danbury always seemed a little odd to me. Sure its a city of 100,000 or so but even main street doens't feel that urban, more like some of the larger towns in New Jersey that have one early 20th century commercial strip and not much else. My point about establishing an ethnic district is that we should be encouraging local people to invest in their community instead of big developers. Maybe i'm being naive but why wouldn't a little Puerto Rico be as much of an attraction as say a little Italy? The current prejudices about hispanics aren't that much different than what Italians and Irish faced when they first arrived in America. It could work, anyone who sees 5th st in North Philadelphia can't help but notice how vibrant this area is in a neighborhood surrounded by vacant lots and abandoned buildings. From what I understand, this came about through a local hispanic organization that built affordable housing and really put alot of work into fixing up the area. Maybe something like this can work in Meriden. Not every city can be upper class. By definition upper class is going to be a small percentage of the population. Our smaller cities have to find a way to work for everyone, not just the wealthy.

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My point about establishing an ethnic district is that we should be encouraging local people to invest in their community instead of big developers. Maybe i'm being naive but why wouldn't a little Puerto Rico be as much of an attraction as say a little Italy?

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This development would do well, if they were able to bring the commuter rail from Waterbury to Hartford through Bristol and New Britain, create a good TOD around it. I think with the cost of gas right now would make it more viable.

Danbury always seemed a little odd to me. Sure its a city of 100,000 or so but even main street doens't feel that urban, more like some of the larger towns in New Jersey that have one early 20th century commercial strip and not much else.

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I mentioned this in the Fairfield County section, and this is getting way off topic now: WestConn's boomed, then Brookview Commons was built as overflow student housing. Now we have several hundred WestConn students living in the downtown area, right in close proximity to the entertainment and dining district.

In my years at WestConn, there was more of an effort to tie the school to the city of Danbury and the region as a whole, to create something better all around. Of course it still hurts when nearly 50% of WestConn's students are living within a half hour, and 60% commute. But compared to the other CSUs (Central, Southern, and especially Eastern) ... it is trying to improve the situation and the city.

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I read that article today, it doesn't bode particularly well for Front Street either.

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Thats fine with me.

I would like to see the cities in CT start acting like cities. work on the things that are working rather than force retail into a place it might not belong. These spaces should be set aside for attracting as many middle income people into the cities as possible. make sure streets that can support retail have store fronts and make sure residential streets remain residential. EWventually business will follow people. If it can happen in Hartford (and it slowly is) than it can happen anywhere.

This development might want to focus on attracting families. middle class families, and put a dcent office component, but only enough retail as is needed.

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