The Gateway Project
The Gateway Corridor project is a joint initiative of the Town of Amherst, the Amherst Redevelopment Authority (ARA), and the University of Massachusetts. The Gateway project proposes the redevelopment of an area that includes portions of the north end of the downtown, as well as approximately 1,800 foot stretch of North Pleasant Street. The preliminary concept would expand and extend the northern end of Amherst’s downtown business center to meet the UMass campus, connecting the two with a mixed-use corridor that includes significant targeted housing, diverse private commercial development, parking, and extensive roadway and streetscape improvements.
Gateway Corridor Vision - FINAL REPORT
The Gateway Corridor project seeks to implement important aspects of the Amherst Master Plan by emphasizing infill, redevelopment, and compact mixed use development which takes advantage of existing services within or near Amherst’s centers.
(added July 25, 2011)
to view the report! (Note: This is a large file and may take a long time to download)
Following a community visioning workshop conducted on April 28, 29 and 30, 2011, and subsequent review of the results of that workshop, the consulting firm of ACP Visioning & Planning prepared a Draft Final Report on a vision for the Gateway Corridor and recommended Action Steps for the Town and Redevelopment Authority to pursue. To view this draft report, click here (Note: This is a large file and may take a long time to download)
The consultant then presented the draft report for public review and comment at a joint meeting of the Redevelopment Authority and Amherst Planning Board at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Room, Town Hall on Wednesday, June 29.
HISTORY AND OVERVIEW
Research & Preparation
Beginning in spring 2010, the Redevelopment Authority began to meet regularly with regard to this project and to examine similar campus-edge projects in other parts of the country. Over the summer 2010, the Authority and Amherst citizens took field trips to Hanover, New Hampshire, and Mansfield (Storrs), Connecticut to review related projects in those communities.
During this period, the Authority developed some maps and a summary of project intent, as a preliminary way to give the project shape and direction.
Planning Areas Map
On September 1, 2010, representatives of the Amherst Redevelopment Authority, the Town of Amherst (through the efforts of a former Town Manager), and the University of Massachusetts signed the following joint Agreement with respect to the mixed use Gateway Corridor project. To view the Agreement, click here. This Agreement served principally as a non-binding statement of good faith cooperation between the three parties, and its early emphasis on the development of private student housing has since been superseded and the Agreement itself discarded as a guiding policy document for the project.
In fall 2010, Town Manager John Musante asked that the Redevelopment Authority reconsider its process, and instead embark on a process of community planning, beginning with a visioning exercise. The Authority agreed, and developed and requested proposals from consultants to conduct a visioning exercise, develop a series of action steps going forward, and to conduct an urban renewal assessment of the project area identified to date, in order to determine whether the use of the Authority’s urban renewal powers would have a useful role in the project.
A Community Visioning Exercise
Before Amherst could embark on the redevelopment of this area, the community needed to decide how much area the corridor will include, what kinds of uses the corridor should contain, what it should look like, and how it should work. Through the efforts and funding of the Amherst Redevelopment Authority, the Town obtained the services of a consulting team led by ACP Visioning & Planning, Ltd., the same firm which worked with the community on development of the Amherst Master Plan.
The community visioning exercise was conducted by ACP on the evenings of April 28, 29 and 30, 2011, in the Large Activity Room of the Bangs Community Center, and consisted of three parts:
Public Visioning Workshop – Thursday, April 28 (6:00-9:00 p.m.) -– The public workshop consisted of: 1) a public presentation; 2) interactive work at tables in small groups regarding the boundaries of the project area and potential future uses, and 3) presentations of results by participants.
Open House – Friday, April 29 (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) – The Consultant team, Redevelopment Authority members, and Town staff organized the results of the Public Visioning Workshop.
(6:00-9:00 p.m.) -– The Open House was an ongoing participatory event at which ‘pin-up’ presentations of the results of the public visioning workshop and its summary could be viewed, including transportation options and assessment of urban renewal eligibility. Participants interacted with presenters as they reviewed the information presented at each location.
Public Meeting - Saturday, April 30 (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) – The Consultant team, Redevelopment Authority members, and Town staff further refined the public vision based on responses at the Open House.
(6:00-9:00 p.m.) – The Consulting Team presented a draft community vision for the Gateway Corridor project and solicited community feedback.
To view a PowerPoint of the final presenation by ACP from the Visioning sessions on April 27, 28 and 29th, click here.
Note: This is a very large file and takes a while to download - please be patient.
Final Vision & Next Steps
With the first portion of the visioning exercise completed, the Consulting Team will work in May and early June with Town staff to further refine the Vision and develop Action Steps to take the project forward. The resulting draft Final Report was submitted to the ARA and the Town for internal review and comment. Following receipt of comments and further refinement, in June the Consulting Team will present a Final Vision and Action Plan to a joint public session of the Redevelopment Authority, Planning Board and final public comment was solicited. Based on the responses at this final meeting, the Final Report was developed and submitted by the Consulting Team. It is now up to the Town and the Redevelopment Authority to determine how to proceed with implementation of the Action Plan for the Gateway Corridor project.
Citizens are encouraged to submit any written ideas, comments, hopes and concerns via email or letter to: Gateway Corridor Project, Conservation and Development, Town Hall, 4 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002, .
For information on upcoming ARA meetings on the Gateway Corridor project, please click on the "agenda's" link, below, or check the Events Calendar on the Amherst home page.
Jonathan Tucker, Planning Director
413-259-3040 | Email
Minutes & Agendas
*4 elected members plus 1 Governor's Appointee for 5-year terms
|Jeanne Traester, Gov App
It Began with Boltwood Walk - On October 4, 1971, after years of studies considering the best reuse of a largely abandoned complex of former school buildings in the Boltwood Walk area of downtown Amherst, Amherst Town Meeting voted to establish the Amherst Redevelopment Authority (ARA):
Voted that the Town hereby determines that there exists in this town a need for a redevelopment authority, as that need is defined in Chapter 121B of the General Laws, for the purpose of engaging in work under said chapter, and that it is in the public interest that such an authority be organized here; and therefore that there be hereby organized and established in this town a redevelopment authority under the provisions of Section 4 of said chapter and acts in amendment thereof and in addition thereto.
Under state law (M.G.L. Chapter 121B), the Amherst Redevelopment Authority, like the Amherst Housing Authority, is not a Town board or committee. The ARA is a separate, quasi-municipal entity that works cooperatively with Amherst Town government for a specific purpose—urban renewal through redevelopment, adaptive reuse and infill development.
While the phrase "in this town" in the original Town Meeting vote extends the ARA's jurisdiction to the entire community, the initial focus of the ARA’s work was in downtown Amherst. Under the guidance of the ARA and in cooperation with Town government, an urban renewal plan was developed to redevelop the Center School Complex Urban Renewal Project area (Boltwood Walk).
Completion of most of that project took 30 years and included:
- Creation of the Bangs Community Center (adaptive reuse of a middle school);
- Construction of 180 units of affordable elderly, disabled and low income family housing (Ann Whalen Apartments, Clark House);
- Renovation of the Odd Fellows Hall (17 Kellogg Avenue) and Kane's Nursing Home (30 Boltwood Walk); and
- Construction of an extensive system of public walkways, lights, and pocket parks.
Parking Garage - The 2001 construction of the Boltwood Walk parking garage was the last significant component of this downtown urban renewal project, which will continue to exist until 2013.
The purpose of redevelopment authorities, acting as urban renewal agencies, is to eliminate and redevelop substandard, decadent or blighted open areas for industrial, commercial, business, residential, recreational, educational, hospital or other purposes. With the goals of revitalizing such land uses and encouraging new growth, redevelopment authorities have the power to:
- Establish rehabilitation and design standards;
- Assemble and dispose of land, including taking of real estate through eminent domain;
- Relocate businesses and residents occupying urban renewal sites;
- Demolish and/or rehabilitate substandard structures;
- Participate in real estate development and commercial revitalization;
- Issue bonds, borrow money and invest funds;
- Receive grants and loans;
- Accept gifts or requests.
The ARA continues to work to identify and assess areas throughout Amherst where urban renewal and redevelopment would be useful tools for the community.
Downtown Amherst – It is hoped that the Gateway Corridor Visioning process will inspire the owners of some downtown commercial properties to see the benefits and opportunities in redeveloping their existing downtown properties. Much of downtown Amherst is seriously under-developed.
North Amherst Village – The Amherst Redevelopment Authority (ARA) is interested in seeing whether there is a useful role it could play in the redevelopment and revitalization of North Amherst Village. The Authority will observe and participate in efforts by the Amherst Planning Board to explore new zoning for this important and historic Amherst village center. A Community Visioning Exercise.