Monday, June 10, 2013

Living in Downtown Middletown

Do you live in downtown Middletown or do you know anyone who would like to?  

Would you like to see more of Main Street's buildings filled with renovated, market-rate apartments on the upper floors?  Tomorrow night, there's an opportunity for you to show city leaders and Main Street building owners that you think Middletown should promote living downtown.   It's at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 11th at the new Community Health Center building at 675 Main, in the first floor community room.  

This is part of the "Come Home Downtown" program, in a partnership with the City of Middletown, the Downtown Business District, the CT Main Street program and others.

For the past few months, a team of architects and urban planners have been studying the feasibility of renovating upper floor apartments at the old Amato's building at 424 Main Street, which currently houses Vinnie's Jump & Jive and an empty storefront (formerly the 99¢ shop) on the ground floor.  

On Tuesday night, the team will present their findings, including apartment designs and pricing concepts, for an open community discussion on the pros and cons of supporting this kind of development.  The old Amato building is being used as a model to assess the practicality and cost of a project like this, and to troubleshoot the issues of renovating downtown historical properties for residential development.  The study also looks at whether Middletown has enough appeal to justify more downtown apartment living through an assessment of the quality of life, infrastructure and other amenities that are important to potential new urban residents.

Come share your perspective on living in downtown Middletown!  It would be really helpful to have your input at this meeting, as city leaders and property owners are taking the time to learn more about why people like to live downtown and how to make this work better in our community.

Here's the official announcement:

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC), with the support of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), has developed Come Home to Downtown, a mixed-use real estate planning pilot program, which will provide communities with new tools to strengthen economic health and restore vitality to their downtowns by redeveloping underutilized buildings into a mix of housing and retail. 
CMSC chose Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury as the pilot communities for this program.  CMSC will work in concert with expert consultants, an Advisory Team from each of the three communities and the owner(s) of a building that meet certain criteria through the Summer 2013 to explore ways to re-develop their buildings into retail or office space on the ground floor and housing on the upper floors.
Each of the buildings were chosen in part because they are representative of the types of buildings found in downtowns all across Connecticut.  They will serve as models for the redevelopment process, signaling what changes need to be made in order to facilitate this type of redevelopment in other downtowns.   


Anonymous said...

I thought those upper floors were already occupied by a couple of artist-types for the past years. Have they moved on or out?

Anonymous said...

Address the parking issues for the tenants and you might have a chance of getting individuals to move downtown. Taking the lights off Rt 9 would ease congestion of Main Street in the long run and make it a more attractive place to live. Don't concern yourselves with the retail stores that object to taking the lights off Rte 9. People will still shop and eat at the restaurants and the stores if what they offer is unique and worth it. Creating downtown living will help business survive.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this, along with knowing very little. I know there are apartments above some of the stores in the north of 66 on Main Street where people congregate. While this isn't a bad thing in itself, it's sometimes a little scary for an older single woman walking through a group of young men (I'm assuming they live there, because they're just hanging out, but I could be wrong).

I don't think Middletown NEEDS to have people live there in order for restaurants to survive (it's quite vibrant already). If people move in, I think more convenience stores would pop up for day-to-day quick purchases. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing for Main Street.

On an unrelated "note", I really would like to see more musicians on the street. The other night, there was a guitar player and it sounded great.

Jen Alexander said...

To Anon@8:14 pm:

Yes, I believe that the upstairs tenants have moved on - but note that this study used the building as an example of how to create upper floor apartments in historic downtown buildings that are market rate (not designated for low-income residents.)

So although we'll be looking that this specific building, it's also a general conversation about living in downtown.

Jen Alexander said...

Part of the conversation about why we need more diversity in the downtown housing stock is that some people who work downtown (at the Hospital or City Hall or the Midfield building for example) might like to have a nice apartment nearby instead of commuting from another town. I think that we're seeing a trend across the country of people who want to live closer to work, and if they have the income level for a nicer apartment, then downtown Middletown has relatively little to offer. There are also young people (ah, to be 25 again..) who might like the lively atmosphere of Main Street as opposed to living in the condos in Westfield. I've had many conversation with seniors who would like to live downtown and who are not low income - it's close to restaurants, movies, and other amenities - but there isn't anything that suits their needs. It's not for everyone, but we are trying to figure out of there is a demand for some units that aren't subsidized and offer an "urban" experience.

Anonymous said...

It seems strange that people want to see more musicians, but don't want people to congregate or loiter. I guess it's just that they don't want certain groups to congregate or loiter.

I would like to see less litter and trash on Main Street! Is there an alternative to businesses putting their garbage out on the street?

Anonymous said...

I agree about the trash. the northeast corner of Court and Main stinks from the trash barrels. very unpleasant when stopping for a morning coffee or breakfast at one of the nearby cafes. Hard to think of what the alternative might be, but I would think that the business owners in the area may want to put a bit of effort into sanitizing and de-stinking their trash barrells especially as the summer heat is about to roll in.