Greater Boston's Gateway Cities are at a critical juncture. The region's growing economy is exerting pressure on traditional industrial land, which demands new ideas on how to balance the need for more market-rate housing, commercial space, and light industrial activity. The regional transportation infrastructure, regional wholesale and retail, and the stable residential neighborhoods sprinkled in between complicate these decisions. While designed with special consideration for the needs of Gateway Cities in real estate markets outside of Greater Boston, MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) offers tools to help Gateway Cities like Everett and Malden grow to maximize their economic contributions.
The recent Urban Land Institute Advisory Services panel in these two cities, which TDI sponsored, is an excellent example. National experts spent five days helping the communities explore options for strategic, catalytic, and sustainable investment. During the TDI Call for Districts in 2014, MassDevelopment selected the Everett and Malden light industrial districts together due to their regional similarities and unique challenges faced by Gateway Cities.
The shared TDI District defined the advisory panel's study area--two vibrant light industrial settings on opposite sides of the Malden River. The eight-member multi-disciplinary panel examined how the two districts can develop to help the current jobs base thrive-rich with good manufacturing jobs; improve connections to regional infrastructure and natural amenities such as the Malden River, better knit together adjoining neighborhoods, and promote market-driven economic growth. The panel also addressed ways that the state, city, businesses, and nonprofits can collaborate more effectively to help the two districts implement the visions and catalyze private investment, a hallmark principle of TDI.
The panel provided a rare forum to bring Everett and Malden together to create a shared vision. After analyzing the area through tours and focus groups and interviewing more than 100 individuals, the experts spent two days framing recommendations and preparing a report. The final public presentation was extensive, brimming with innovative ideas. A packed house of community stakeholders who rarely have the opportunity to get together attended the public unveiling, presenting a chance to collaboratively chart a course for the future.
Thanks to a strong contingent of West Coast panelists, the final presentation borrowed terminology from surfing. Panelists advised the Cities to "carve the wave" and take control of development by setting a course and following the vision. The panel also recognized a need to balance the optimal community outcomes versus what the market demands. In this case, panelists encouraged Malden and Everett to "ride the wave" of residential development but promote strategies that invigorate the workplace, such as compatible light industrial growth. In turn, those connections will boost community, commerce, and sustainability. Continuing the water theme, the panel recommended using the Malden River to unite the two districts while creating distinct identities for the Cities: the "Food Innovation District" in Malden focused around the growing StockPot Malden and some of the legacy food producers such as Piantedosi Bakers, and the "Santilli-Norman District" in Everett. This proposed area would focus on makers, such as Night Shift Brewery and Teddie Peanut Butter, recreation amenities such as Skyzone, and next-generation industrial uses. Other features could include a riverwalk, recreational space for boating and biking, or an iconic pedestrian bridge for greater mobility between the districts and creating walking loops, to complement the existing bike trail that would support businesses and residents alike.
The panel suggested building on the foundation of the existing regional body, the Mystic Valley Development Commission, a tri-city entity comprised of Malden, Everett, and Medford that oversees the River's Edge Project (formerly Telecom City). Plans are already in the works to consider implementing the panel's recommendations, but the biggest victory was the new dialogue and fresh perspective at a critical time for two proud and rapidly changing Gateway Cities.
Mayor Gary Christenson, City of Malden Mayor Carlo DeMaria, City of Everett
The Boston Globe editorializes in favor of a better measure of student poverty than the state's new indicator built on participation in safety new programs. MassINC blogs about what the change means for Gateway Cities, particularly communities that serve high numbers of immigrant students.
The New York Times issues an editorial about the achievements and the long road ahead for Lawrence Public Schools after being placed in receivership.
The Holyoke Public Schools' local stakeholder group has issued a first draft of recommendations for the receiver.
Fitchburg city councilors vote against the privatization of custodial jobs after the union led protests to protect them.
The Brockton schools superintendent said 70 teachers will be laid off, as well as 60 classroom staff such as paraprofessionals. Officials had originally sent out layoff notices to 173 teachers.
The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce announces a summer professional development program for college students.
The Republican, in an editorial, praises UMass Medical School's plan to open a regional clinical campus in Springfield.
Gov. Baker announces his intentions to restore $5 million in regional school transportation funding.
Housing & Economic Development
The Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approves economic development projects that will create and retain 1,485 jobs-including projects in Pittsfield, Westfield, and Lowell. The Baker-Polito administration also pledges funding for the redevelopment of Springfield's Union Station.
MassDevelopment rolls out a new program to redevelop the Tyler Street business district in Pittsfield through the Transformative Development Initiative.
State Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash says Lynn is his No. 1 priority and urges city leaders to focus on commercial development and market-rate housing.
Lawrence receives a $400,000 EPA grant to train 45 workers to clean-up contaminants from the city's industrial past.
Next City looks at Cleveland's attempt to build off its manufacturing routes (check out the great quotes from Mark Muro, author of our original Gateway Cities research, on the advantage of older industrial cities for hardware startups).
The Center for Community Progress issues a second edition of the seminal guide book Land Banks and Land Banking.
Chicopee installs free Wi-Fi in parts of the city and receives its first Soofa benches, the solar-powered phone charging stations already scattered throughout Boston.
The Worcester Tree Initiative and the Department of Conservation and Recreation team up and plant 32,000 trees in Worcester and surrounding towns.
Project for Public Spaces writes about the growing "lighter, cheaper, faster" placemaking movement.
New Bedford Mayor John Mitchell pens an op-ed in SouthCoastToday to convince voters to O.K. a planned casino, which they overwhelmingly approve.
Could a paperwork issue block a proposed $1.8 billion casino in Everett? The city of Boston and Wynn Resorts battle over whether required documents were filed with the city in timely fashion.
Communities & People
Tom Ambrosino, former mayor of Revere, is chosen to be the next Chelsea city manager.
Don Featherstone, Worcester native and Leominster resident inventor of the plastic pink flamingo, dies at 79. A local nonprofit 'flocks' a Worcester principal in appreciation of her dedication to her school.
US Justice Department-sponsored talks on race in Worcester raise the issue of media coverage of minority communities. Telegram & Gazette columnist Clive McFarlane listens as residents talk about how the media contribute to racism.
The Join Transportation Committee releases an MBTA reform bill with provisions giving regional transit
authorities the ability to hold capital dollars over 2 years and establish enterprise funds.
MGM Springfield may have to delay its 2017 opening due to work on the I-91 viaduct, currently
scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2018.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno joins city police officers in a call to the courts asking them to wield their power to more effectively keep violence off the streets.
Governing looks at how communities use data effectively to increase public safety.
Lowell gets three events under Boston 2024's new plan-taekwondo, fencing, and, according to the local state senator, rowing. But Worcester, which landed handball, thinks Lake Quinsigamond should be the rowing venue.