Newburyport – On August 16, 2018 (and again on September 6, 2018) members of the Newburyport City Council and Planning Board will hold a joint meeting to review conceptual plans for the redevelopment of “Waterfront West,” an area of downtown Newburyport. (See attached graphic.) The so-called “Waterfront West” area is owned largely by New England Development (NED). For years now, NED and City officials have discussed the potential benefits of mixed-use development, and a hotel, in Waterfront West, to replace the existing boat yards.
NED proposed a similar project last year, but public meetings and City review of the project was put on hold over the past few months while NED made revisions to the project to address specific concerns raised by City officials. If NED receives favorable review of their most recent revisions, formal public hearings will be conducted on zoning changes necessary to facilitate the proposed redevelopment.
A 2003 Waterfront Strategic Plan, developed by City officials with support from planning consultants, recommended that the City take action, in coordination with private developers, like NED, to:
- “Extend the scale and character of downtown Newburyport to the waterfront by establishing a vibrant Harborside neighborhood.”
- “Establish a system of public ways extending the historic street pattern of Newburyport to the water.”
- “Enhance and expand public parks and civic spaces along the harbor for relaxation and recreation.”
- “[Provide] a variety of experiences for pedestrians traversing the waterfront as water views are held back and revealed in a dramatic way.”
- “Improve the pedestrian character of Merrimac Street with trees, walks, and infill development from the North End [and through Waterfront West] to the Downtown.”
- “Require all new development to conform to and reflect the historic character and quality of downtown Newburyport.”
- “Ensure a healthy mix of uses that serve the downtown community and support a vibrant mix of activities year round.”
- “Create a framework of streets, walks and squares.”
- “Create a third street to the waterfront in between the Market and Green Street extensions.”
- “Create an extension of Market Street to the water. Reorient this extension to lead directly to and frame views of the embayment and the Merrimack River.”
- “Create a public plaza for public events, activities, and vendors. This plaza should be lined with public uses such as a public market, shops, a hotel, and the like.”
- “Establish general design guidelines enforced by municipal site plan review.”
- “Adapt zoning and subdivision regulations to support this strategic waterfront vision.”
NED’s conceptual plans for Waterfront West would appear to fulfill many of these municipal objectives, but City officials must address various details, and zoning revisions, before redevelopment can begin. These initial meetings will pick up where last years’ review left off, with the goal of reaching consensus on NED’s redevelopment plans.
For more information, please contact Andrew Port, Director of Planning & Development, at (978)465-4400 Ext #1.