On Friday, September 15th at Olde Scotland Links in Bridgewater, the Metro South Chamber hosted a panel of economic development speakers and regional leaders to discuss anticipated downtown Bridgewater revitalization and underutilized properties, transit-oriented housing, business support, and infrastructure.
Guest speakers included Peter Milano, Massachusetts Office of Business Development; Mayor of Brockton, Bob Sullivan; Mike Lambert, Brockton Area Transit; Michael Dutton, Bridgewater Town Manager; Bob Rulli, Community Economic Development, Town of Bridgewater; and Mathieu Zahler, MPZ Development LLC. Fred Clark, Bridgewater State University moderated the panel. U.S. Small Business Administration Diane Darling was also in attendance and provided SBA resources. Grant Nickerson, event sponsor Rockland Trust was interviewed by Mahsa Khanbabai, Khanbabai Immigration Law, detailing products and services available through Rockland Trust.
Bob Rulli gave a presentation on the downtown revitalization project “Bridgewater Vision to Reality“.
Building off existing Town goals, execute an implementable vision for the future of Downtown Bridgewater that accomplishes:
- Preservation of the historic character
- Revitalization of underutilized Downtown properties
- Increased and improved connectivity between Downtown and the surrounding area
- Promote transit-oriented-development (TOD)
- Support existing businesses, attract new businesses
Building on past planning efforts and existing strengths, the Town is developing an implementable vision for the future of Downtown Bridgewater. With an MBTA commuter rail station, Bridgewater State University, a central Town greenspace (Central Square), and a charming, historic building stock, Bridgewater already has the characteristics of a vibrant, lively, economically successful Downtown. However, existing challenges keep Downtown from being as successful as it can be, including: a focus on moving cars through Downtown and not enough focus on making Downtown a destination; a lack of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between Downtown, the current location of MBTA commuter rail station, and a lack of housing options in close proximity to Downtown amenities.
Having an MBTA commuter rail station in Town designates Bridgewater as an MBTA Community. No later than December of 2024, all MBTA Communities must comply with the Multi-Family Zoning Requirement set forth in Section 3A of MGL c. 40A. This law states that an MBTA community must have a zoning ordinance or by-law that allows for by-right multi-family housing within a ½ mile from a commuter rail station. Aside from being required by the Commonwealth, the Town sees value in creating more housing Downtown to support current and future businesses.
The goal of Revitalizing the Heart of Bridgewater is to develop an implementable vision for Downtown, and actionable next steps, balancing common concerns such as public safety, existing infrastructure and capacity, and maintaining existing character with the desire to attract new and retain existing businesses and residents.
Visit www.bridgewatermavisiontoreality.com to learn more about the project.