|Warwick, RI’s Intermodal Business Center was one of the new projects discussed at last month’s LOCUS LinkUp. Photo via City Center Warwick.|
On November 20, 2014, real estate developers and local leaders came together at a LOCUS LinkUp to discuss new opportunities for building walkable neighborhoods in the greater Boston area.
LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger framed the day’s discussion with a preview of forthcoming research part of The WalkUp Wake Up Call: Boston, which will take an in-depth look at where future development will likely occur in the region. Boston is already home to some of the country’s most walkable places—LinkUp attendees got a sneak peak of how that trend will bear out in coming years.
Mayor Scott Avedisian, an advisory member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, and Senior Planner Dan Geagan of Warwick, RI kicked-off the presentation portion of the event with a look at City Centre Warwick, a 95-acre site near T.F. Green Airport and a commuter rail station. At the center of the development is the Interlink, an intermodal station connecting air, rail, bus, and cars serving the Providence area and southern Massachusetts. Nowhere else in the country does Amtrak run so close to an airport and the city hopes to leverage this to turn City Centre Warwick into a premier 21st century transit-oriented neighborhood with a mix of retail, residential and office space.
Then, Town Manager Bob Halpin and Economic Development Director Art Robert discussed Framingham, MA’s efforts to create more walkable and vibrant areas. Framingham is midway between Boston and Worcester, MA and boasts having the busiest MBTA commuter station between the two cities. Hapin and Robert discussed downtown Framingham’s strong prospects for infill and redevelopment. The town’s development plan is aimed at encouraging new investment downtown, building on Framingham’s strengths as a regional commercial center and transportation hub, giving current residents more transportation options within Framingham, and developing a central district that will support a diverse set of cultural and recreational amenities to attract more residents in the future.
Throughout the session, attendees explored ways the private and public sectors can work together to realize communities’ vision for the future. Town Manger Halpin cited new policies in Framingham that allow the real estate sector to expect a reasonable timeframe for the decision-making process and throughout the development process. Mayor Avedisian also highlighted Warwick’s effectiveness at coordinating stakeholders at all levels of government as a signal to the development community that the city is ready to reap the economic benefits that come with building walkable places. More importantly, underscoring each presentation was the fact that residents supported each effort to create more mixed-use and transit-friendly developments in their communities. LOCUS members can contact us to receive a copy of the presentations.