Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wanted: A Transformed North End

[A belated Merry Christmas to everyone. Things have been busy, hence I've been behind on posts. Here's wishing you a happy, healthy New Year! -- bg]

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My brother lives in North Tiverton so I find myself driving through there almost on a weekly basis. I’m sorry, but it’s borderline depressing to see all those vacant buildings yearning for some economic and neighborly activity. What gives?

There’s one stretch in particular that I think could be attractive if given the right investment. Close to the Fall River border, just north of Interstate Insurance on Main Road lies a series of abandoned store fronts. Yes, it absolutely needs some rehab, but the possibilities are exciting if left to the inspired imagination.

There are plenty of examples to draw from: Broadway in Newport, downtown Bristol, Main Street in Warren, all of Wickford, the first two blocks of Westminster Avenue on the west side of Providence. The list could go on. These are places with small mom & pop shops; convenient, walk-able locations; destinations for towns people. Eclectic fare that helps give a community a sense of self and a flavor to be proud of.

When you get down to it, the north side of town could really transform itself into a nice little retail destination that goes beyond the current small-to-mid-size corporate box stores; something to draw out folks from other parts of town. All it would take is one or two new outfits to blaze the trail, create some buzz, and kick-start the momentum. Think of your potential customers: Folks from those high-end condos (that will remain nameless), a large student population, families that descend on the ball fields for either soccer or baseball throughout the year, church-goers, state-line crossers, residents at the eventual Bourne Mill complex, never-mind your everyday residents. The traffic is definitely there.

So what will it take to make all this happen? Better planning/zoning regulations, rehab investment for buildings and sidewalks, more business-friendly allies at Town Hall, a couple of people with good retail ideas and the gusto to give it a shot? What kind of stores do you think would do well? What retail needs could be met with a local business solution? Do we have the best resources to help with small business development in town?

1 comment:

foula ideas said...

North End: maybe also better publicity on planning already in process. You have to read 4 newspapers and crosscheck them, and watch meetings at Town Hall or on Cox, and the minutes from the Town website--assuming the good stuff is covered--to get a bead on what's going on, and still there are gaps.
There are lots of good things going on in town and wonderful people making them happen.
Maybe we need someone with communications and marketing skills to make these things more visible.
Maybe we just need a way to restore the Town newsletter which carried info on grants to StoneBridge, etc.
Maybe a permanent display in Town Hall; maybe a display on loan that could be moved to other community locations.
Maybe RI Foundation funding for the community could be a way to make this happen.
And there are other initiatives pending.
And we need to all get behind cleaning up Bay Street.
Maybe the Sustainable Tiverton group is the beginning.