Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gateway Project pauses

A shovel ready former Frat Row

The Amherst Redevelopment Authority met this evening for the first time since the whirlwind three days of public input at the Gateway Visioning Charrette last month with advice cascading in from all quarters to clarify a vision for a large swath of land connecting UMass to downtown Amherst.

The final report from our consultant Giani Longo is scheduled for presentation on 6/29 to a joint meeting of the Amherst Planning Board and the ARA at an open public meeting--an official unveiling, minus the drumroll.
Giani Longo

The ARA hopes to receive a draft copy hot off the Internet a week or so before the public presentation and will make that available to the general public as well.

The scope of the project was somewhat constrained when predominant public opinion envisioned less dense development on the 2 acre parcel UMass owns, still referred to as "Frat Row" even though the five frat houses are long gone.

One of the sub-consultants also thought adjacent property in the corridor was not slummy enough to be considered "blighted" (although Phillips Street stood out as "decadent") which is required for the ARA to attain 'Urban Renewal' status that brings with it federal money and easier use of imminent domain powers.

Unfortunately our colleagues from UMass, Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon and Director of External Relations Nancy Buffone missed this meeting as they are attending a four day conference in Colorado hosted by the International Town & Gown Association, where one of the major topics of discussion will be how to control rowdy student behavior in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon center

When the topic of "new business" came up, the entire committee opposed even considering other projects besides Gateway and agreed that even if reduced in scope this project can still be a signature development of premier proportions.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see some push back on the imminent domain issue. It's too easy to get an itchy trigger finger when pushing a project like this. Taking somebody else's property should be a last resort and avoided as much as possible.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah,the last time emminent domain was used in the People's Republic was in 1987 to take the Cherry Hill Golf Coure--and look how well that turned out

LarryK4 said...

But then, twice in 25 years does not strike me as indication of an "itchy trigger finger."

Anonymous said...

Hey Cubby,

You should get your camera out to cover the 5 derailed train cars on Station Road.

Anonymous said...

... and another single-family home is swooped up by a real estate investor.


Does the Town care about preserving the historic fabric of downtown neighborhoods? Does anyone care about Amherst residents over the age of 23? Does UMass care about their impact on the town in which it resides?


LarryK4 said...

Yeah, the somewhat ironic thing is Mr Friedman has been an outspoken critic of the Gateway Project precisely because of the party house atmosphere of his (former) neighborhood--which will not get even worse.

LarryK4 said...

I meant "now" get even worse.

LarryK4 said...

Guess I just demonstrated a "trigger finger". The property was purchased by John Nunnelly my neighbor here on South Pleasant Street. He's a stand up guy. Hopefully he will be careful who he rents out to.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, yes. But I don't care to live in a house surrounded by renters. Where are the nearby neighborhoods for adults? Any recommendations for someone looking to also sell and relocate within a more comfortable driving distance from party central? What are the pros and cons to Hadley, Pelham or South Amherst?

Anonymous said...

Well, if you moved to 23 Tracy Circle, you would eliminate a party house! To be honest, I live nearby and thankfully, missed the worst of it. South Amherst isn't bad at all.

Anonymous said...

The Gateway Project has too many answered questions about what will it really do for the tax base. From what I can see the town is using old data, not what we will see happening in the future.
For example: 1)I know I am buying more products on the web. Small stores are closing all over the country since they can not survive. 2)Can the town support any more restaurants? 3)If we lose Medicare, how many of the seniors will be able to afford this small apartment/condo idea. Also salaries of women have not increased that much over the years to help them buy into this project unless they have several other people living with them to pay for the mortgage. I also know someone living in that area, and it is not the parties that cause the most trouble since it is the foot traffic that happens until the early hours of the morning. Screaming girls at 3:00 A.M. do not make it an easy place to live even if you can not hear well. 4)Will the Center of Amherst become the new Northampton Green Street? If CVS moves down to the Gateway area, why would the UMass Students even bother to go to the Center except for beer.
5)What is UMass not telling us what they really want to do to this area of town? Everyone in town needs to have a better idea what the university plans to do. I do not trust the university since the school does not seem to check state laws and procedures for their building projects. 6)How will the town deal with the extra parking needs for this project--for the owners of the town houses or condos? I remember complains from people who bought apartments in the Center of Northampton several years ago that they could not find enough parking. 7) With so many homes for sale in Amherst, will we see more houses bought for rentals in all areas of town? So the idea that by changing this neighborhood by building a new off campus dorm (which the UMass would really have no control over student behavior.) for other areas of town will not help, I think the economy will answer that question. For some good MA students, it is cheaper to go to one of our private Five College campus so they can take courses at UMass.
This post is only trying to bring up questions that I feel have not been answered. All areas of this project must be looked at with care not, emotional statements.

Ed said...

There is one thing that the gateway project is missing -- the concept of UMass imploding. The era of rich kids with lots of money to spend in Amherst is rapidly ending -- the town isn't willing to tolerate the rich kids and they aren't willing to tolerate the town.

So this will become a development not unlike the so-called "dead mall" before Walmart went in there. The same thing happened with a lot of urban renewal in the 1970s -- the investment dollars did not materialize in the era of inflation (which we soon will be entering) and the land stood vacant for decades.