Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gateway is Gone

The Gateway Corridor Project, born September 1, 2010, died Wednesday August 4, just shy of age one, after contracting an all too typical case of NIMBYism.

The ambitious Gateway was conceived out of an optimistic, rare partnership between Amherst and UMass, as an urban renewal project with a mixed-used commercial development of high end student housing, commercial retail, and office space, a signature building or two plus significant green space, to revitalize the corridor connecting downtown Amherst with our flagship University.

The Amherst Redevelopment Authority adopted the infant and acted as nursemaid.

But the generational pessimism ingrained in the nearby neighborhood by seasonal waves of rowdy students, combined with overly inclusive public officials who allowed self interested "stakeholders" to hijack the public process, inflicted a heavy toll.

Gateway supporters were so concerned about negotiating the Town Meeting gauntlet--where a two thirds vote is required for zoning changes--that they watered down the project immensely, thus alienating a major player.

On August 4th UMass rescinded the offer to transfer ownership of Frat Row, the Gateway's crown jewel, a two-acre swath of open land dubbed a critical "catalyst" by ARA consultant Gianni Longo. The prime piece of property that ignited the very idea of a "Gateway."

With its heart and soul gutted the grand idea is gone. Now, Gateway belongs to the ages.



9/1/10

Todd Diacon, UMass deputy chancellor (center). During the intensive design charrette he was seated at the only table of ten that came up with a "minimalist" plan for Frat Row: keeping it wide open and green. They called it, "King Philip Street Park."

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope they like what Umass does with it, which, doesn't have to go to zoning, will benefit Umass much more that Amherst.

Seems like a lot of work.

LarryK4 said...

And whatever they do with it will be tax exempt.

Ed said...

And why, exactly, should UMass care what is good for Amherst? Does Amherst care what is good for Belchertown and Ware?

Belchertown & Ware would have benefited (immensely) from the Route 9 Bypass run through Mark's Meadow. As it is, they have to fight their way through Amherst to get anywhere and that is a burden on them...

Yes, you can bully a few UM admin into being compliant, but why should UM really care about Amherst????

Anonymous said...

Chalk up another win for the NIMBYs! Too bad...the project sounded very new and exciting for Amherst!

LarryK4 said...

Let's hope town officials LEARN from it to ensure it does not also happen with the solar farm on the old landfill as well.

Anonymous said...

Good!

Anonymous said...

So NIMBY's what is the grand vision you have for economic development in Amherst? Just what everyone living in the real world thinks you don't have one! Oh,,,I know what it is let's have an override! I'll tell you all what you may keep digging this hole deeper and deeper in tax dollars for the next generation to take care of, but I wiil not promote my kids to stay in Amherst after they graduate. Of course most if not all of you will have died off by then and only then maybe this town can start moving forward! I agree with the earlier posts. We had an opportunity to have some imput even if it was minimal before. Get ready because now you have no control and no opportunity for economic growth in that area. If you think UMass is going to play your little game I think your sadly mistaken! Now go hug a tree your going to need it!!!

Anonymous said...

6:38

They won't.

Protect our Ponziville! said...

When roaches overtake a town, they ruin everything.


Everything.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the grand vision is to implement the master plan and build inside the village centers instead of everywhere but.

Did the nimbys kill this or did the change in command at umass, or the lack of need for more commercial space and housing, or the incorrect designation of this area as blighted by the ara, or the economy or the lack of any major developer behind this or the very tight credit markets or the.....?

LarryK4 said...

One of the above.

Ed said...

Larry, I say that all of the above killed it -- the NIMBY's only being the mosquito that took enough blood from the anemic patient to finally kill him/her/it....

A healthy project without all of the other stuff could have slapped away the mosquito and kept going on without worry....

Anonymous said...

When a pessimistic note was sounded by commenters, you said that this time it would be different.

You went with your heart and your gut, going with your idealism and your optimism. Nothing wrong with that.

If Amherst is a "republic", it clearly is a BANANA republic. Town Meeting continues to be the crucial force preserving an economic status quo set in cement, even when the supplicants for change try to anticipate its every objection.

Anonymous said...

"UMass decided not to proceed with recommending the transfer because the consultant’s vision moved the heart of the project away from the parcel of UMass land toward Kendrick Park."

Looks like you guys hired a consultant that killed your project. How stupid can you get.

Anonymous said...

Work on redeveloping the RR station area instead - maybe by the time you get that figured out, there will be regular RR service again - just sayin'!

LarryK4 said...

We already have another project in mind, but closer to town center.