Assembly Square, Somerville, Massachusetts
This master plan for a mixed-use development of 145 acres of under-developed land between Interstate 93 and the Mystic River provides the framework for a vital new district of the city including retail, office, housing, hotel and institutional uses. The development also includes a new transit station, a water transportation terminal, and an extensive public open space system.
Why it works:
- Smart Growth Development: The Assembly Square redevelopment plan calls for dense, walkable neighborhoods that provide housing, recreational, and employment opportunities. The housing serves a mix of incomes, with special emphasis placed upon increasing Somerville's affordable housing stock. The plan also preserves open space and mitigates contamination along the Mystic River waterfront.
- Leadership: Moving the process from the planning to the implementation stages required strong municipal leadership and cooperation with local developers, municipal agencies, and the community at large.
- Creative Zoning: The City of Somerville created a Priority Permitted Use Process that creates incentives for preferred developments. Transit-oriented development, housing, and mixed-use retail can qualify for the expedited priority permitting if they meet conditions established in the zoning provisions. These conditions include phasing, square footage, use, and location requirements. For example, transit-oriented development must be built within one thousand feet of the new Orange Line stop, and 75,000 square feet of retail must be built every eighteen months for six years.
- Transit-Oriented Development (TOD): Assembly Square is well-connected to regional transit networks, including the MBTA trains, buses, water transit, and commuter rail; and to regional transportation corridors including I-93 and McGrath Highway. The redevelopment plan for Assembly Square provides the density and connectivity required to maximize transit use and reduce private car usage.
- Economic Development: Redevelopment at Assembly Square will result in over six million square feet of new development, more than 7,000 permanent jobs, and substantial real estate tax revenue.
- Public/Private Partnerships: The development of Assembly Square is proceeding in conjunction with the significant support private organizations. Private sources have funded creation of new parks and maintenance and renovation of existing parklands, new roadways, a new Mystic Center for the Arts, and studies and designs for the new MBTA Orange Line station.
Dennisport Village Center, Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
The Town of Dennis recently adopted zoning bylaws to revitalize its historic village center, Dennisport, into a thriving neighborhood that meets the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development. The Dennis Economic Development Committee promoted zoning strategies that encourage private reinvestment in Dennisport.
The Dennisport Village Center bylaws aim to make Dennisport as a walkable, livable, working and shopping community by clearly delineating a village core through a historic development pattern. The bylaws allow a mix of retail, commercial, professional and upper floor residential uses on a single property combined uses that were characteristic of our centuries-old downtowns, yet made illegal by zoning bylaws introduced during the past 40 years.
Why it works:
- Local Support: The Dennis Economic Development Committee, Dennisport Revitalization Committee, Dennis Chamber of Commerce, Dennisport Business Association, Dennis Historical Society, property owners, and residents worked for nearly two years to develop a zoning by-law that provided a basic framework to revitalize the Dennisport Village Center.
- Complementary Policies: The TND bylaws adopted by the Town matched the recommendations of the recently completed Dennis Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, the Town of Dennis developed a set of architectural design guidelines that, amongst other recommendations, require a variety of roof and façade designs facing Main Street.
- Accessibility: The zoning policy and complimentary design guidelines create a pedestrian-friendly environment by requiring a network of walkways, public spaces and appropriate parking design.
- Redevelop First: The Dennis zoning bylaws take advantage of existing structures and infrastructure by encouraging reuse of existing buildings.
Mashpee Commons, Mashpee, Massachusetts
In 1988, this former disinvested strip mall in Mashpee, Massachusetts was converted into Mashpee Commons, a mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly town center. Planning for Mashpee Commons has since been expanded to include six interrelated mixed-use neighborhoods with housing, offices, stores, civic buildings and open space, which are all controlled by strict design codes. The development is permitted for thirty-six mixed-use buildings whose collective footprints comprise 255,000 square feet (many will be 2-story buildings) and up to 100 dwelling units.
Why it works:
- Business Mix: Mashpee Commons offers a diverse retail mix, which ranges from national retailers to local merchants. To date, over one hundred retailers operate at Mashpee Commons, meeting local and regional retail demand.
- Diverse Housing: Housing in Mashpee Commons includes affordable units that are interspersed throughout the development, and market-rate housing that serves diverse income and age levels, including starter, senior, and luxury homes.
- Community Spaces: A range of services is provided in Mashpee Commons that build community and define the space as a traditional neighborhood. The development includes a church, post office, hotel, children's museum, library, medical office building, and a proposed performing arts theater.
- Site-specific: The architectural style of the homes and commercial center in Mashpee Commons conforms to traditional Cape Cod design principles.
Village at Hospital Hill, Northampton, MA
The Village at Hospital Hill is a major redevelopment project planned for the former Northampton State Hospital site. The project's planning and design guidelines have been established within the model of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). The village will include a mix of residential, commercial, office, and light industrial uses within a walkable, campus style setting. The project will also include space for a research facility, live/work artist studios, a childcare center, and an assisted living facility.
Why it Works:
The wide range of uses and activities planned for the site will be assembled together through a coherent village master plan that embodies TND concepts, such as compact scale, mixed uses, walkable design, and community character. The project is being developed under guidance of Northampton's Planned Village Zoning District - a district that was specifically drafted for the redevelopment of this site. In total the project will create 207 residential units, 100 of which will be single family homes, and 107 will be mixed with retail. The project exhibits a strong affordable housing component as 50% of the residential units will be designated affordable.
The redevelopment will also contribute to Northampton's economy by creating more jobs and more places to shop. The mix of retail created will primarily serve those living and working on the site, thereby decreasing the need for driving and increasing opportunities for community interaction. In addition to the project's commitment to sustainable development through TND standards, the majority of buildings being constructed or rehabilitated will meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for energy efficiency. A total of 180 of the 207 units will be built to ENERGY STAR Homes standards resulting in a 35% reduction in utility use.
The following list of goals have guided the development:
- Encourage economic diversity and vitality.
- Encourage development into areas which can best accommodate it..
- Use existing infrastructure and encourage clustering.
- Preserve and reuse structures of historical and/or architectural significance.
- Encourage development patterns similar to traditional Northampton neighborhoods, including pedestrian scale.
- Maintain distinction between rural/suburban/urban areas.
- Preserve character of rural areas, including maintaining large undeveloped tracts, vistas, and farmland.
- Encourage economic expansion, job creation and stability.
- Insure that municipal services and facilities are adequate to meet public needs, without subsidizing development.
- Minimize infrastructure costs.
- Minimize traffic congestion from the new development.