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01-17-2008, 08:39 AM
http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/4/1/16/f_NBHarborm_145c618.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/f_NBHarborm_145c618.jpg&srv=img26)

I'm creating this thread for New Bedford (Pop. 93,000 and 1.6 Million Metro... it's included in the Providence, Fall River, New Bedford Metro) seeing as there isn't anything on it yet (I'm not surprised). I am currently wrapping up my fourth year of school in Portland, ME and will be moving into Boston as early as August, but the New Bedford area (Assonet to be exact) is where i grew up and have spent many years. Much of my family and many of my friends still live in the area which is why I keep myself informed on the happenings in the city.

New Bedford has a poor reputation among many who have been through (and to an extent, understandably so), however, the city retains a rich history. It was at one time the whaling capital of the world, rivaled only by Nantucket. Herman Melville used the city and many of it's landmarks (including the Seaman's Bethel... and yes, i still get a kick out of saying that) in his novel, Moby Dick. It was also home to abolitionist Fredrick Douglas and several city buildings and monuments are named in his honor.

Today, New Bedford makes headlines mostly for negative reasons. In spring, 2006, a man went on a shooting rampage in a local strip club killing three, and not too long before that, an 18 year old boy assaulted 3 (but killing none) people in a gay bar with a hatchet before leading police on a cross-country chase that ended in him killing a police officer and hostage before turning the gun on himself. In the early 90's New Bedford was the scene of a famous gang-rape in a bar and resulting trial that inspired "The Accused" starring Jodie Foster.

But not all is bad in New Bedford. It is and has been for nearly a decade, the most valuable fishing port in the nation in terms of value of catch. It's also a hub for getting to Cape Cod and the Islands via land ( it's the last heavily populated city along I-195), Sea (3 different ferry services including Steamship Authority and a high speed ferry), and air (Cape Air operates flights from New Bedford Regional Airport). The city is also home to a large Portuguese population and that's reflected in fantastic ethnic restaurants, bars, and markets throughout the city. The Portuguese festival every summer is a block party in which a few streets are blocked off and all sorts of Portuguese food and drinks (the wine and beer are fantastic) are available to sample for the duration of the weekend.

The New Bedford National Historic Whaling Disrtrict is 18 Blocks of preserved 17th and 18th century buildings centered around the New Bedford Whaling museum. The buildings house shops, restaurants, bars, and more.

Downtown New Bedford and the surrounding have been noticing a turn around in the past few years. an Increase in upscale and mid-level restaurants, the revival of the Buttonwood Park/ Zoo, and New Bedford's prime location near Fall River (12 MI), Providence (26 MI), Boston (48 MI), and Cape Cod make this a great (and affordable) alternative to Newport, RI, Hyannis, etc. With the addition of Commuter Rail service (proposed to be in place by 2016... we'll see about that) and interest in increased service from other Airlines (USairways Express, American Eagle, and even Delta) New Bedford seems to be in a good position to continue to grow and gentrify.

I will continue to update this thread with news on current/ future developments and photos (although at the moment, these photos are all from outside sources).

Some Pictures in the meantime:
http://img01.picoodle.com/img/img01/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_20aea93.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_20aea93.jpg&srv=img01)

http://img30.picoodle.com/img/img30/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_a606993.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_a606993.jpg&srv=img30)

Seamen's Bethel:
http://img29.picoodle.com/img/img29/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_513b6bb.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_newbedford0m_513b6bb.jpg&srv=img29)

Whaling District:
http://img35.picoodle.com/img/img35/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_NewBedfordHm_4d7a2f2.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_NewBedfordHm_4d7a2f2.jpg&srv=img35)

Herman Melville Square:
http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_bedford600m_00edcaf.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/5/11/13/jfoahs04/f_bedford600m_00edcaf.jpg&srv=img26)

http://img31.picoodle.com/img/img31/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_Doverstreetm_af5f0a8.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_Doverstreetm_af5f0a8.jpg&srv=img31)

**EDIT** More Photos:

St. Anthony's (of Lisboa)
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_StAnthonysIm_92fb033.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_StAnthonysIm_92fb033.jpg&srv=img34)

Some sort of rally downtown:
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_DowntwonNBm_bf18ba3.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_DowntwonNBm_bf18ba3.jpg&srv=img34)

Whaling museum Entrance:
http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_WahlingMusem_2d59f26.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_WahlingMusem_2d59f26.jpg&srv=img26)

Times Square, New Bedford (New York, you are not.)
http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_TimesSquarem_e72e16b.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_TimesSquarem_e72e16b.jpg&srv=img26)

Ugly Downtown Modern Art:
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_sculpturem_03e807f.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_sculpturem_03e807f.jpg&srv=img34)

http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_NewBedfordHm_db330e2.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_NewBedfordHm_db330e2.jpg&srv=img26)

The Harbor:
http://img28.picoodle.com/img/img28/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_Harborm_f3d4add.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_Harborm_f3d4add.jpg&srv=img28)

Whaling Museum Lobby:
http://img37.picoodle.com/img/img37/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_Interiormusm_aed323c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_Interiormusm_aed323c.jpg&srv=img37)

North End with St. Anthony's in the background:
http://img30.picoodle.com/img/img30/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_NorthernNewm_96b50fb.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_NorthernNewm_96b50fb.jpg&srv=img30)

01-17-2008, 09:13 AM
Since this is an architectural site and not a photo blog, i figured i'd start by posting something of substance (the South Station-New Bedford commuter rail project has already been beaten to death and it's in the transit and infrastructure thread where it belongs).

The Orpheum Theater lies vacant just south of downtown New Bedford. It closed in 1962 and has been unused and abandoned since. Recently, the renewed interest in New Bedford has caused some groups to turn their attention to saving the building (which although i think is beautiful, i think may have fallen closer to disrepair).

An article in the New Bedford Standard Times by Jack Spillane, March 26, 2007:

By Jack Spillane
March 26, 2007 6:00 AM

"What New Bedford doesn't need is another bunch of do-gooders trying to get the government to save another white elephant."

You can almost hear the local talk radio callers before the effort to save the Orpheum theater even gets off the ground.

It doesn't matter. There will be an effort to save the Orpheum and there should be.

For the Orpheum is like no other grand building from New Bedford's past.

Walk onto its sweeping, gargoyle-decorated balcony ? as it juts over a breathtakingly arched proscenium ? and it's like walking back into early 20th-century vaudeville. For sheer beauty and architectural achievement, the exquisitely detailed Orpheum makes the downtown Zeiterion Theatre look like a cardboard box.

When you're inside this gilded playhouse, you can almost imagine the dancing girls doing the can-can. Or hear the static and clicking of the silent-film projector, as when "The Birth of a Nation" once played here.

"After my first trip through, I had a hard time sleeping that night. I was wandering these halls," said Chuck Hauck, a city artist who is among a small group trying to get a preservation effort off the ground.

It won't be easy.

The Orpheum, built in 1912 in the once-vibrant South End commercial district, is now in the middle of a slum. The angelic faces of its once-electrically lit ceramic"muses" now stare down on rubble instead of a marquee.

The word "slum" may sound cruel, but that's what the part of the South End where the Orpheum is located certainly is.

The wonderfully bustling Central Foods Hispanic market on the theater's first-floor nothwithstanding, it's decay that now surrounds the old theater. At least until America figures out a better way to revitalize the poorest sections of its inner cities.

To the Orpheum's north are sickly housing projects; to its west and south are ghostly triple-deckers with long-smashed-out windows; and to its east, the final stages of a roaring six-lane highway (Route 18).

Planners in the 1960s once said a highway through New Bedford would bring the city new life by speeding cars through its downtown. What it did instead was cut off the inner-city neighborhoods from their very lifeblood, the port of New Bedford.

In its heyday, however, the Orpheum was a hopping place. Instead of Route 18 outside its front door, there was busy South Water Street with a hotel, another theater, a grocery store, and a five-and-ten.

Five thousand people walked through this theater's doors during its opening week in 1914, as the program alternated between silent pictures, an orchestra and burlesque shows.

"There's very few theaters like this left that are original of that period," said Mr. Hauck, whose group ORPH Inc., is hoping it can raise enough money to join the League of Historic American Theaters.

He notes that even the 1960s "urban renewal" planners couldn't bring themselves to tear down the Orpheum.

ORPH (Orpheum Rising Project Helpers) believes the influential national theater league can help it attract state and federal grants for a building that would easily qualify for a listing on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

To obtain those grants, ORPH first must negotiate a long-term lease with the Central Foods market operators, who own the entire building.

Raoul Diaz and his father, Ignacio, who run the supermarket, say that won't be a problem. They would like to see the theater building used rather than sit empty.

Mayor Scott Lang and economic development council head Matt Morrissey have toured the Orpheum, but the mayor ? perhaps burned by the challenging effort to save Fairhaven Mills ? says the preservation effort is going to have to be a private one.

Lisa Sughrue, executive director of the Waterfront Historic Area League, says that while the Orpheum is an "amazing" piece of architecture, its restoration will be a "multi-million dollar" project.

That doesn't mean the project is not doable ? if ORPH obtains a long-term lease, it should qualify for financial help from both the Massachusetts Preservation Fund and the Massachusets Cultural Facilities Fund, she noted.

And the fact that the theater includes an impressive ballroom, function rooms and even an indoor shooting gallery (once operated by the original owners, the French Sharpshooters Club of New Bedford) means the facility theoretically could provide its own revenue stream.

Mr. Hauck, an artisan who has built miniature models of both the Orpheum and Building 4 at Fairhaven Mills, says the old theater will be opened in stages.

"We realize this is going to be a major, major project. It could take forever if we start trying to do this project all at once," he said.

Architect Ricardo Romao Santos, another of the ORPH visionaries, says local theater groups like Your Theatre and Culture Park might find a home at the Orpheum.

"You can't justify investing millions of dollars required ... to get this place going without having real organizations interested in occupying the space," he said.

The ORPH folks say they've received a cautious reception from the city and other movers and shakers they've approached.

Chuck ? who does restoration work for a living ? doesn't have a hard time imagining a successful renovation of the Orpheum.

He lays it out for you with a burgeoning arts and antiques scene combining to make it all happen. He has you convinced ... at least for a little while.

"People would actually want to come," he says. "I mean, come to the city of New Bedford, see a show, go to the galleries, and then with the antiques coming into the South End here, they could really work hand in hand. New Bedford could be a leader in the arts on the East Coast."

Then Chuck Hauck pauses and makes a nod to the reality of the challenge.

"But I'm a dreamer," he said
Link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070326/NEWS/703260352/1011/TOWN10

Some Photos of the exterior of the theater and some interior shots from a walk-through sponsored by an interested group:

http://img33.picoodle.com/img/img33/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumExtem_a7c6e07.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumExtem_a7c6e07.jpg&srv=img33)

http://img02.picoodle.com/img/img02/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_orpheumfacam_9ca496a.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_orpheumfacam_9ca496a.jpg&srv=img02)

http://img29.picoodle.com/img/img29/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumDecom_ab4571c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumDecom_ab4571c.jpg&srv=img29)

http://img37.picoodle.com/img/img37/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIIm_280dfdc.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIIm_280dfdc.jpg&srv=img37)

http://img02.picoodle.com/img/img02/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumBalcm_5666d29.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumBalcm_5666d29.jpg&srv=img02)

http://img32.picoodle.com/img/img32/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIntem_718f627.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIntem_718f627.jpg&srv=img32)

http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIIIm_d80a661.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumIIIm_d80a661.jpg&srv=img34)

http://img36.picoodle.com/img/img36/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_lookingtowam_5918513.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/16/jfoahs04/f_lookingtowam_5918513.jpg&srv=img36)

http://img32.picoodle.com/img/img32/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumStagm_efb6819.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/jfoahs04/f_OrpheumStagm_efb6819.jpg&srv=img32)

My other concern would be that the neighborhood (South End) isn't all that great and you can tell from some of the exterior shots that not too much lies around it. I hope they do something with it, i can only imagine what it looked like in its prime.

Ron Newman
01-17-2008, 09:25 AM
How does it compare to the neighborhood around the Zeiterion?

What keeps me coming to New Bedford every July is the wonderful Summerfest (http://www.newbedfordsummerfest.com/). It's not as well known as Lowell's festival, and therefore not as crowded, but the music is fantastic. The downtown area where the festival occurs is every bit as attractive as Lowell.

01-17-2008, 09:39 AM
It doesn't. The Zeiterion is in Downtown, the Orpheum is in the South End. I know Downtown isn't anything special, but the south end is full of vacant lots, housing projects, and abandoned buildings. The theater used to be surrounded by commercial buildings and another theater (long before my day) but today sits in an grassy area with a housing project and run-down triple deckers. The theater could be fixed (although not cheaply), but the neighborhood is the big problem.

Summerfest is great. I am no fan of folk music with the exception of Maura O'Connell. Her voice is amazing. It's always in the Whaling District which is nice, but still needs some work (it is getting better though).

Ron Newman
01-17-2008, 10:07 AM
Would it make sense to deconstruct this part of the highway and return Water Street to the width and condition that it was before the highway was built?

01-17-2008, 10:35 AM
I don't know too much about urban planning and the logistics of it, but i'd say that it wouldn't make much sense in this case.

Not because the volume of traffic is so heavy, but because there's nothing left of what once was (aside from the theater) to build around. The author of the article described the area as a slum and that's exactly what it is. the theater really is standing by itself, and i don't think the reconstruction of the area would help (at least not for a reasonable amount of money, and it'll be a while before a developer would be willing to spend that kind of money in New Bedford).

here's a shot of the theater from google earth (the theater is the black roof in the center), see what you think:

http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/1/17/f_OrheumAeriem_2d06aaa.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/17/f_OrheumAeriem_2d06aaa.jpg&srv=img27)

Now, That's not to say the South End isn't worth investing into. there are some areas that are working well on their own, Including the intersections of Rivet and Bolton streets which serve as sort of a neighborhood center with a large park, monument in the center of the intersection, and some nice restaurants and markets (including Adega which is Portuguese for celler, they have one of the nicest wine bars around, not to mention great Portuguese food). However, the area that was once water street is sort of a lost cause (although sprucing it up a bit wouldn't hurt).

Ron Newman
01-17-2008, 11:35 AM
Once you go further south, onto that peninsula, does the neighborhood improve? On a map that looks like it should be an attractive area, surrounded almost completely by water.

Since the expressway just dead-ends into the neighborhood and doesn't connect to anything else, seems like removing it would help the area a lot. This would also reconnect the State Pier to the city center again.

01-17-2008, 12:31 PM
Sadly the peninsula there, New Bedford's "South End" is not all that great. I have been down there a few times as my family summers at Salters Point in South Dartmouth and it's disappointing to say the least. It's probably safe but other than that it's basically lower middle class with a lot of triple and double deckers and smaller ranch and cape style single family homes. The views of Buzzards Bay and the eastern shores of South Dartmouth, especially from the southwestern tip are great though they are somewhat mauled due to some UMass Oceanographic Institute monstrosity. I am going to be down tomorrow for a yacht club function, I'll go into New Bedford and take a few pictures if I remember to. There are some very interesting buildings downtown and as I said the views from the South End are quite good.

01-17-2008, 02:29 PM
I look forward to some regular updates to this city and what is happening down there. I learned a lot from the introductory post. I've never been to any of the cities in New England that south of Boston, but would like to do some exploring someday. While reading about the theater, I was expecting to see Mr. Ron Newman post a reply or two. Definately a place worthy of restoring. I'm always surprised at how long places like that can sit unused.

Ron Newman
01-17-2008, 02:37 PM
One thing I see as a big problem for New Bedford trying to attract tourists: it has no hotels at all! There are plenty of empty lots near the city center where one could be built, or solid old buildings that could be converted to this use. The lack of something so basic puzzles me.

01-17-2008, 02:47 PM
From what I've seen of New Bedford, the Urban Renewal days of putting highways everywhere really did a heck of a number on it. The first thing that needs to happen, in my opinion, is transforming Route 18 and JFK Highway into an urban boulevard with intersections and crosswalks so that it connects instead of bisecting the neighborhoods.

01-17-2008, 08:16 PM
From what I've seen of New Bedford, the Urban Renewal days of putting highways everywhere really did a heck of a number on it. The first thing that needs to happen, in my opinion, is transforming Route 18 and JFK Highway into an urban boulevard with intersections and crosswalks so that it connects instead of bisecting the neighborhoods.

This would be a start. in fact, the "highway" isn't much of a highway south of the center of the city. It has traffic lights and frequent stops (and ends at cove road). It could be better served with a nice boulevard there and even some pedestrian bridges that cross it so the city will once again be connected to the waterfront. For those not familiar with the area, picture Storrow Drive with neighborhoods on one side and instead of park land, industrial warehouses and unfriendly piers (and i mean unfriendly in every sense of the word in this case).

Unfortunately, this is a dream. New Bedford (and much of the South Coast) has been ignored by the transportation department of Mass. since the beginning of the Big Dig (the "New" bridge over the Taunton River in Fall River has taken nearly as long as the entire Big Dig project and still has a way to go). The best thing in the near future that can happen to New Bedford is the Commuter rail (read this article http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080117/OPINION/801170374/1011/TOWN10 it'll probably end up in the Transit thread, but it's intersting nonetheless). That will allow people from the Boston Metro to take a 1 hour train ride to visit the city and explore it(as well as ease access to Boston from the South Coast which is the real goal, but the reverse is true). Again, the core (Downtown and the Whaling District) of the city is a pleasant, pedestrian friendly place with some relatively fun Bars and Restaurants.

The key with New Bedford is to continue to improve the center of the city. I think the next step would be to ease access to the waterfront in the city center with new pedestrian bridges, or a plaza on a pier. The schooner "Ernistina" is operated by the DCR and open to the public, but unless someone told you about it, you would never know.

Once the center of the city reaches its potential, then they can work to improve the areas to the North and South (to the West is the Dartmouth Mall area and Buttonwood park with a small zoo). The North has the groundwork laid out for it Ashley Boulevard is a dense city street with some ethnic restaurants and a landmark church (St. Anthony's). This wouldn't take too much work to Gentrify further, but again, the Development in Downtown needs to continue.

The South End is a different story. Where the Orpheum is would take heavy cosmetic work after the highway was removed, and the Peninsula is absolutely "not all that great" (actually sort of an understatement). However, there is an area in the South End, that has seen some development recently and is home to Adega (seriously, if you're in New Bedford, go) and some other restaurants and is, in my opinion, the only place in the South End with real potential to grow in the near future without too much assistance.

Long story short, New Bedford needs to continue to develop in the city's core and hopefully that gentrification will spread North and South (with a little assistance of course). The lack of Hotels is something that amazes me as well. This needs to change.

In another thread, i did a lot of comparing NB to Portland, ME as New Bedford shares some similarities to Portland. If you've ever been to Portland, one of the few things you realize is that for such a small city, there are plenty of public parking garages, very few open lots, and ample hotels throughout the city center. New Bedford needs to do this. Parking in the city (despite the open lots) sucks. There are no hotels (Motels and small chains such as Best Western and Hampton in lie close by, but there is now downtown hotel), few public garages, and use the existing open lots to fix this problem. In fact, New Bedford Mayor, Lang pushed really hard to have the Middleborough Casino built on a large site in New Bedford, but the tribe chose the Middleborough site due to more land and access to 495 and 95 as well as 195. That's too bad, it would have helped draw some money into the city.

Another good point The Bostonian brought up was that Portland's public murals on the side of buildings is really welcoming and it really is. New Bedford has a large artsy community, so why not give the rights to the side of a few buildings to some of the artists to decorate? It can't hurt. There's plenty that can be done and lots of people are starting to take action. A little money and investment in New Bedford can go a long way.

01-21-2008, 10:42 PM
I wonder to what extent New Bedford's woes are attributable to the focus of the state government on Boston. If New Bedford had the position or spotlight in state circles occupied by Providence, a city of similar size, it might have capitalized on what seem to be similar touristic assets.

Then again, Providence also has several colleges and universities, and a very healthy economy. New Bedford has...the Whaling Museum. It could maybe hope to draw Salem or Lowell level tourism at best.

01-22-2008, 10:55 AM
DARTMOUTH ? The developers of The Village at Lincoln Park are nearing the start of construction for their mammoth commercial and residential project at the former amusement park.

But exactly when construction will begin is uncertain.

Town officials don't foresee final approval at the next authority meeting on Feb. 5, but feel it is not too far off.

Jay Williams, a partner in the development group, Midway Realty LLC, said they plan to start construction on a 15,500-square-foot, mixed-use commercial structure shortly after the permit board gives final approval of Phase I of the project.

Mr. Williams said Phase I includes five commercial buildings that will abut State Road:

The 15,500-square-foot multi-use building, which will be built first by the developers.
An 1,800-square-foot branch bank with four drive-through bays.
A 7,200-square-foot restaurant. Mr. Williams said there are three possible tenants.
A 15,500-square-foot building, possibly for a pharmacy.
A 10,000-square-foot building, possibly for a small market or perhaps a liquor store, according to Mr. Williams.

Developers want to begin construction of the commercial aspect of the project first, hoping it spurs interest in the residential portion. The Comet roller coaster, the centerpiece of the former amusement park, could be demolished in late spring or early summer, Mr. Williams said.

The development, which will include 205 condos and 112 apartments along with the commercial parcels, is what the state calls a 40R Smart Growth project, which encourages mixed-use development by providing financial incentives to cities and towns.

The Lincoln Park project has been on the drawing board for three years, but the only work completed has been the clearing of the land along State Road.

"We want to get the commercial started. The last two years, though, wasn't the best time to start the condos," Mr. Williams said, noting the slow housing market conditions.

Town officials ? who support the project, despite their concerns ? said it is a big undertaking because of its density and size, but want to give it due diligence.

Donald Perry, the town's director of planning, said it could be a couple of months before the project receives final approval.

"I think it will take a little more review," he said. "We need to know the details. It's a big project. We just want to make sure it all meshes.

"It could go very well. The success will come out through the details. That's why we're paying close attention to it."

"I think it's going good," Town Executive Administrator Michael J. Gagne. "I see the end in sight. I think it's making good progress considering the size of the project."

Roger L. Tougas, a member of the authority board and chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said any drainage and traffic issues are surmountable, but he could not pinpoint when final approval will come.

"I have great anticipation for it," he said. "Something has to happen and something will happen, but when it happens is up for grabs."

The authority board is comprised of Kathleen Horan McLean, chairwoman of the Select Board; Planning Board member John P. Haran; and Mr. Tougas.

Mr. Williams said the bank and restaurant in Phase I could be completed this year after the multi-use building is finished, depending on tenant contracts.

In addition, there are plans for three buildings behind the five commercial structures. Mr. Williams said these buildings will require separate approval from the authority board.

Two of the proposed buildings are each 12,500 square feet with commercial tenants on the bottom floors and likely 16 units of apartments atop them, according to Mr. Williams. The third building is proposed for 48 apartment units.

"We feel there is a need for apartments in Dartmouth," Mr. Williams said, pointing to demand generated by UMass Dartmouth students.

Developers contend there is a need for more commercial space, since there is not much vacant space available on State Road.

Forty-one of the two and three-bedroom townhouse condominiums and 112 of the apartments qualify as affordable units under the state's affordable housing program.

Under the terms of the 40R smart growth development, Mr. Williams said the developers can change the configuration of the condo units between unrestricted and age-restricted units with the town's approval, depending on market conditions.

The town has already received a $350,000 one-time payment from the state, after Town Meeting approved the new zoning district for the project, and will receive an additional $3,000 from the state each time a building permit for a condo or apartment unit is issued, according to Mr. Gagne.

Mr. Williams said the developers will also contribute a $100,000 impact fee to Fire District 3 and $7,000 each time a building permit is issued for a non-affordable housing unit.

Mr. Gagne said the town will receive educational aid equal to the difference paid in taxes and the per-pupil expenditure for every child who moves into the development.

Contact Curt Brown at



I hate to point fingers, but I do think Mit Romney essentially ignored the South Coast in his terms as Governer. Infrastructure in New Bedford and Fall River (Taunton, Attleboro, etc) has been ignored for a while and it's taken it's toll. New Bedford is the only one of those cities that has shown progress on it's own. I think new bedford with some help could be on par with Salem and i think it could exceed Lowell's tourism. The big concern is lack of hotels but that will change. I think a nice development around the CR station in the city center could help a lot. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Deval Patrick has promised some attention to the area, but we'll see. In my opinion, making sure Boston is taken care of first is a priority, but I don't like seeing anywhere in the state ignored like this.

In anycase, the above article is about a development in neighboring Dartmouth. I'll try and get photos of the renderings.

the developer's site: http://thevillageatlincolnpark.com/

01-22-2008, 11:45 AM
Yes, yes, yes!


GUEST VIEW: Surround rail stations with pedestrian-friendly, green development

Mr. Cohen is secretary of transportation and public works for Massachusetts.
January 17, 2008 6:00 AM

Last April, Gov. Deval Patrick renewed his commitment to the South Coast Rail project, which will restore passenger rail service between Boston and Fall River and New Bedford. The Patrick-Murray administration is fully funding the three-year planning phase of the project, investing $17.2 million.

The people and communities of Southeastern Massachusetts have long awaited this project, anticipating an infusion of new jobs and easier access to Boston.

New growth, however, can bring some unwanted changes. Already, Southeastern Massachusetts is the most rapidly growing part of the Commonwealth in terms of population and housing. Much of this growth is in new homes sited on large lots in rural areas. This type of growth is eating up farms, fields and forests and eroding the historic villages and cities that help make the SouthCoast so special.

As the third-largest public infrastructure project in recent state history, the scale and geographic reach of the South Coast Rail project offer unprecedented opportunities to protect our communities and our natural environment, while finding ways to welcome and shape new growth. South Coast Rail will be a strong catalyst for the type of lasting growth that builds on our traditions, not a veiled invitation for more urban sprawl.

Clustering people and jobs near train stations helps us make new public transportation cost-effective. The more homes, offices, shops, and schools are spread out, the more people have to drive, and the less likely it is that a train will be convenient.

Building where people are already living and working also helps us protect our natural resources, guide new growth and create new jobs that generate local taxes. The Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works is breaking new ground by focusing on how best to build the train line to address the region's needs. For business leaders, South Coast Rail can bring new jobs and valued employees. For cash-starved communities, new growth means a bigger tax base. For residents, South Coast Rail provides a fast, frequent link between New Bedford and Fall River and Boston. And for environmentalists, thoughtful growth can preserve the area's natural resources.

Our approach is what's often called smart growth. We combine transportation, economic development, and environmental goals with old-fashioned frugality and common sense. We don't waste resources or land. We do not simply look out for the short-term. We plan ahead to preserve the long-term, global competitive advantages of the whole region ? the people and communities who live and work in the region, abundant water, and the traditional village and city patterns of development that are highly energy-efficient.

To put these ideas to work, we are asking cities and towns to partner with us to prepare for the train by developing an economic development and land-use corridor plan. This blueprint will guide new development of homes and jobs to places that make sense while helping communities preserve precious environmentally sensitive areas. We will be asking communities to help us:

* Draw a baseline of the economy and land use development patterns in 31 cities and towns;
* Identify economic development and environmental challenges, opportunities, and aspirations; and
* Prioritize places ripe for development and places with important natural resources.

Our hope is that when we weave communities' visions together, the sum total will be a smart-growth blueprint that will be useful to cities and towns for decades to come, and a rail expansion that will enhance mobility for the people of the region. In the coming months, we will be inviting residents to share their thoughts about the project with us at a series of events.

The South Coast Rail can be a green project that is part of the climate change solution. One can envision wind turbines at stations, parking lots roofed by solar panels, and trains that meet the needs of the 21st as well as the 22nd centuries. We commit to do what we can to integrate renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean technologies into the project design.

But to make the project as green as possible, we require leaders at the local level to be open to local planning and zoning changes. We need initiatives to reinforce town centers, create new villages, reinvigorate our cities, and protect precious natural resources. We can achieve these goals if SouthCoast residents join us at every step along the way as we design the rail project and the accompanying smart-growth blueprint.

01-22-2008, 02:25 PM
GOOD stuff. I like Bernard Cohen; what i've seen out of him so far show that he's very pro development. Development around the station would be perfect considering the location of the proposed station and the vacant space around it. As an added bonus, if done well, it could connect the city to the waterfront again (separated thanks to route 18). Here's a shot from google earth of the area. The center of the city is only a few blocks south of this spot, and could really benefit from development there.

http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/1/22/f_Trainstatiom_f17829c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/1/22/f_Trainstatiom_f17829c.jpg&srv=img27)

02-11-2008, 04:34 PM
Workshop to plot city's Upper Harbor redevelopment

Standard-Times staff writer
February 11, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? City officials are trumpeting what they believe is a rare opportunity to reconnect residents to the Upper Harbor area along the Acushnet River and encourage economic development there.

The Upper Harbor Development District study area ? defined as the area bounded on the east by the Acushnet River, on the west by Acushnet Avenue, on the south by Interstate 195 and on the north by Wood Street ? will be the focus of a "public visioning workshop" this week.

Officials are staging the session to gather input from residents, property owners, business people and developers. The workshop is open to the public and will be held at Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Co., 689 Belleville Ave., starting Friday at 6 p.m. and continuing Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mayor Scott W. Lang, whose administration has been the driving force behind developing a cohesive plan for the Upper Harbor, said last week, "We have a (potentially) vibrant waterfront that has been closed for 100 years to residents."

He said one goal is to reopen access for residents and allow them to connect with the Acushnet River. "On one side is an industrial city, and on the other a salt marsh," Mayor Lang said. "It is a very protected, beautiful area."

Mayor Lang said possible recreational uses of the river include canoeing, rowing, kayaking and sailing small boats. Walkways along the river also are being proposed to connect to local parks.

In addition, the Upper Harbor can meet a second, complimentary goal of enhancing economic development and job growth.

"We want to prepare the city for the next several decades," Mayor Lang said. "This is like (creating) a road map; we get input and best ideas that we can employ."

Mayor Lang said the waterfront is known as one of the city's great assets, but the Upper Harbor area has been closed off for many years by industrial buildings and other impediments. Mill closings and reuse "provides tremendous opportunity," but not without addressing challenges such as blight and inappropriate activities that now exist there, he said.

"This is like breaking through a barrier."

The Upper Harbor planning is just one part of the citywide planning and development effort that is focusing on such resources as the working waterfront, airport and downtown, Mayor Lang said.

Mayor Lang said he intends to participate in the workshop as much as his schedule allows.

The workshop is an outgrowth of a partnership between the city, MassDevelopment and the Economic Development Council.

In announcing the workshop, the council said the port's working waterfront has always been recognized as important, but "historically, the upper river has been ignored as a significant asset for public access and future development."

Matthew Morrissey, Economic Development Council executive director, said 20 people were sent door-to-door during the past weekend in the directly affected neighborhoods to hand deliver flyers and encourage participation in the workshop. He said getting as much input as possible will help to determine how the city goes forward in balancing the needs to improve the quality of life for residents with generating economic development and maximizing the potential of the Upper Harbor.

"I grew up in the northern part of that neighborhood, and for 100 years it was not thought of as having a view of the river," Mr. Morrissey said. He said in preparing for the workshop, officials have talked with people as diverse as an employee of a manufacturer located there, a descendent of a family that has lived in the area for 125 years and developers who only recently purchased property there.

"Each has a unique perspective," Mr. Morrissey said.

While keeping a focus on the needs of current and potential future residents, Mr. Morrissey said, it is important to note that "buildings there are still employment centers and there are others we would like to see as employment centers."

Although at times in the process the resident access and recreational aspects of the planning seem to get more attention, Mr. Morrissey cautioned that the economic development component is critical.

"The city has no large areas for job creation," Mr. Morrissey said.

Pictured on a map, the area under consideration can be sliced from top to bottom into "verticals," Mr. Morrissey said. Moving from the river west, the verticals would be:

* Water;
* Water's edge;
* Mill buildings;
* Industrial space; and
* Neighborhoods.

Each vertical offers opportunities, potential challenges and needs to be considered in the context of the overall best use of the area.

Mr. Morrissey declined to put a price tag on what it might cost to do the maximum amount of development in the area. He said it is more appropriate to look at the components of the area, some of which are already being utilized successfully and some of which are in the hands of developers with firm plans for reuse. Those properties and development would total well into the tens of millions of dollars.

Mr. Morrissey said the city ? including the Planning Department which played a significant role ? NBEDC and consultants have been working on the Upper Harbor project for about 18 months, with highly focused attention for eight months and planning for the workshop during the past four months.

He said a report on the planning workshop should be ready about 10 weeks after it is concluded.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080211/NEWS/802110334/1011/TOWN10

It's worth noting that route 18 has essentially cut the rest of New Bedford off from the waterfront since the 1960s. Until that's fixed, no amount of parkland will "reconnect" the city (although it'll beat vacant lots and old industrial buildings).

Ron Newman
02-11-2008, 09:21 PM
Why is Route 18 needed at all? Couldn't it just be removed, since it dead-ends in the middle of nowhere anyway?

02-11-2008, 09:37 PM
My guess is that when the idea was conceived, the planners thought it would bring more life to the South End; the end results were the opposite. I wish it would be removed. It's not needed, 140 connects to route 6 west of the city center and is a quick ride in. If it were converted to a surface boulevard and remove a few lanes it would make it much easier to get from the city to the waterfront.

The only real question mark in the near future will be the new train station, but in my opinion, this would present the perfect opportunity to do some redevelopment around there.

02-12-2008, 01:23 PM
Casino developer says New Bedford still in the game

Steve DeCosta
By Steve Decosta
Standard-Times staff writer
February 12, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Gov. Deval Patrick's opposition to Indian gaming in Middleboro advances the possibility for a casino in the city, according to the developer who holds options on about 35 acres in the Hicks-Logan neighborhood.

"I view that as a major development buttressing the opportunities for New Bedford," Leon Dragone, president of the Northeast Group of East Longmeadow, said of the Patrick administration's 79-page letter opposing the Mashpee Wampanoag's bid to have about 540 acres in Middleboro taken into trust, which would allow the tribe to develop a tax-exempt casino on its own sovereign land.

While Gov. Patrick has welcomed the tribe as a potential bidder for one of his three proposed state-licensed resort casinos, he has taken direct aim at the Wampanoag's chosen site of Middleboro.

"Not only do we have the governor opposing their pursuit, but we also have the site coming under opposition," Mr. Dragone said, implying that it would be difficult for the governor to allow a commercial casino at a location he has determined would not be suitable for an Indian casino.

The governor's opposition to the tribe's plans focuses largely on its secretive deal with casino investors and a variety of issues that are open to negotiation, but he also raises "environmental issues relating to potential adverse impacts on wildlife and natural resources."

Gov. Patrick's casino-enabling legislation would give preference to Massachusetts' two nationally recognized tribes ? the Mashpee Wampanoag and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) ? for state licenses. While the Mashpee repeatedly have said they prefer to operate on sovereign land under the authority of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, they have not ruled out the possibility of seeking a state license.

The governor's bill would license three resort casinos, one each in southeastern Massachusetts, western Massachusetts and metropolitan Boston. While the administration has said it expects hearings on the bill to begin next month, two longtime gaming foes ? House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Rep. Daniel Bosley, House chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies ? control the timetable.

The Mashpee Wampanoag, meanwhile, have a deal that would give Middleboro money for anticipated infrastructure improvements plus $7 million a year and additional revenue from a 4 percent hotel room tax. In exchange, town officials are bound to support the effort to place the land into trust.

Legislative approval of Class 3 gaming would be required before any full-fledged casino could open in the state.

"I'm feeling encouraged about what's going on in Boston," Mr. Dragone said. "The issue is now taking a larger focus."

The governor has ramped up his lobbying on the issue recently and last week landed the endorsement of the 400,000-member state AFL-CIO.

In addition to his plans here, Mr. Dragone also is leading the most obvious effort to develop a casino in Western Massachusetts. The Northeast Group owns 150 acres off the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer and has entered into an agreement with the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut to develop the casino there.

Northeast has partnered with Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, owner of the Dartmouth Mall, for retail development in both New Bedford and Palmer.

Mr. Dragone said he is "in active discussions" with potential casino developers for the city site.

"If I were a betting man, I would say it's going to be New Bedford in the Southeastern part of the state," Mr. Dragone said.

Contact Steve DeCosta at sdecosta@s-t.com

I doubt it's likely the casino will end up in NB, seeing as Middleborough has better access to highways and Metro-Boston than New Bedford does. There's also much more space in Middleborough to build a massive complex on.

That being said, a casino would be great for New Bedford. The proposed site far enough out of Downtown that it won't effect the area negatively, but close enough so that the area can benefit from some of the added traffic. The best part of this deal would be the fact that it would give New Bedford a destination hotel; something no city can hope to draw visitors without.

Furthermore, it wouldn't rely on the asinine Route 18. A destination casino combined with the impending commuter rail extension to NB would be helpful in the effort to bring commuters down from the Boston area as well as bringing commuters from NB to Boston. I know there's a downside to gambling, and a rather large one at that; but New Bedford has dealt with much worse, and quite frankly, the positives far outweigh the negatives in this instance.

*Edit* Whoops, link to the original article: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080212/NEWS/802120324/1011/TOWN10

02-15-2008, 12:22 PM
Effort to connect residents, tourists to New Bedford waterfront

Standard-Times staff writer
February 14, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Port of New Bedford Director Kristin Decas unveiled plans Wednesday to reconnect residents and tourists with the city's working waterfront by improving access, going after new economic opportunities and offering new attractions, such as a weekend public fish market on a pier.

Ms. Decas acknowledged there are hurdles to overcome before all the plans come to fruition, and she said everything must be done in the context of maintaining a "working waterfront" that is a commercial fishing port. But within those parameters, she said New Bedford Harbor has the potential to be a major regional draw for residents and visitors similar to the high visibility harbors in Seattle and Baltimore.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce at the Country Club of New Bedford in Dartmouth, Ms. Decas said she and others in Mayor Scott W. Lang's administration are focused on new ways to tap the harbor and waterfront's potential.

Some things under consideration, she said, include bringing in more coastal freighters, increasing ferry service, adding to recreational boating facilities and making the harbor a recreation and tourism destination.

"You want people to take pride in a working waterfront, not be segregated from it," Ms. Decas said in an interview after her presentation.

The harbor already is a major economic force on the SouthCoast, according to Ms. Decas.

It provides employment to 3,700 people, handles 60 million tons of fish a year, receives freight from inside and outside the United States, serves more than two-dozen cruise ships a year, has eight marinas serving recreational boaters and serves as a base for ferry service used by more than 100,000 passengers a year.

Ms. Decas said there are multiple studies under way to understand how to best utilize the harbor. She stressed the first priority is to maintain New Bedford's standing as the number one port in the United States based on the dollar value of fish catch landed. The value last year exceeded $280 million.

But, she noted, "for the port to remain sustainable, mixed uses" will have to be considered.

Among the initiatives under way or being studied, she said, are:

* Remaking Route 18 from a highway-like road into a boulevard, with the goal of improving access and making it safer for vehicles and foot traffic to cross from the historic and residential districts to the waterfront;
* Linking the harbor more closely to marine research facilities in Woods Hole, UMass Dartmouth and elsewhere;
* Establishing the port as a facility for short sea shipping, which would step up freight operations, especially containers and other freight now moving along the Northeast's coast on trucks;
* Increasing the number of cruise ships that visit;
* Increasing ferry service, both by adding new destinations and expanding traffic on current destinations;
* Going beyond freight, cruise lines and ferry service at the State Pier, a facility operating at only 10 percent of capacity;
* Creating new marinas, improving recreational boating access and targeting the transient boating community;
* Utilizing parcels, such as the 95-acre Hicks-Logan parcel, for hotels, restaurants and other travel and entertainment, including possibly a casino; and
* Building a 3.5-mile-long walkway and bikeway atop the harbor hurricane barrier.

In addition, Ms. Decas said that much like farmers' markets, New Bedford has the potential to create a fish market that could operate on weekends and combine the commercial and non-commercial aspects of the port to everyone's advantage.

She recalled a childhood visit to Norway, where her family has roots, and seeing an active public fish market there. She also recounted visiting Seattle's fish market.

Ms. Decas said those experiences with highly utilized public fish markets are what make her enthusiastic about doing the same thing locally. "It is a cool opportunity," Ms. Decas said.

She said the economic viability of a fish market needs to be assessed, along with interest from the fishing industry. "We would need to find a site in partnership with the industry," she said, but the obstacles do not appear to be too great, and it potentially could happen as early as next year on one of the city or state piers.

Ms. Decas, who was put in her job by Mayor Lang, serves as both director of the Port of New Bedford and executive director of the city Harbor Development Commission.

She said the Lang administration operates with a forward-looking attitude. She said the city last year looked at starting ferry service between New Bedford and Woods Hole. Ms. Decas said the city received $75,000 from the state to conduct a study.

"Mayor Lang said 'no study, let's run it.' We set up a pilot project ? two trips a day ? for the first two weeks in August. Two thousand people got on the ferries ? they were at capacity," Ms. Decas said.

There still is not scheduled ferry service to Woods Hole, but the experience of actually operating a pilot program provided useful information and having a permanent ferry connection remains a goal.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com


Kristin Decas' head is in the right place. In fact, I'm shocked that she mentioned that route 18 should be turned into a boulevard. It's good to see that the administration is on board.

It would be wise of New Bedford to create a fish market (although trying to be Seattle is no easy task, but the ambition should be lauded) on the waterfront. It's the most important fishing port in the country, so that's one way to capitalize on that. Good stuff.

Ron Newman
02-15-2008, 12:42 PM
> * Building a 3.5-mile-long walkway and bikeway atop the harbor hurricane barrier.

Would this involve building a drawbridge across the gap (gate) in the barrier?

02-16-2008, 01:29 PM
^^Good question.

I never considered the hurricane barrier to be very inviting, in fact, it's downright steep and (and obviously rocky) on the sides at certain points. It'll be interesting to see how the project is managed (access points, bridging the gap, safety rails, etc) if it's put through.

02-25-2008, 10:25 AM
Music school backers envision a 'mini-Berklee' downtown

Standard-Times staff writer
February 25, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD ? A community school affiliated with the Berklee College of Music in Boston and focused primarily on under-served youth has been proposed for the city by a prominent local musician.

Jackie Santos, a full professor of percussion at Berklee and well-known drummer who has played with Tavares, The Beaver Brown Band and many other contemporary groups, wants to start a school downtown that could serve city youth.

The affiliated school concept tied to Berklee College of Music already has been established in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Memphis and other larger cities.

As to whether it would work in the city, Mr. Santos says it could be "as big as we want it to be."

"There is so much musical talent here it is unbelievable," Mr. Santos said. "This is an opportunity New Bedford cannot pass up."

J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Berklee associate vice president for education outreach, said he agrees.

"Look what has come out of New Bedford ? Tavares, Coleus, Candida Rose. There is a lot of talent in New Bedford ... it is not formally trained ... but the talent is there."

Mr. Warner cited the strong Cape Verdean-Portuguese cultural ties to music as one of the city's strengths.

Mr. Santos has engaged City Councilor Brian Gomes in an effort to explore whether the city would be supportive of such a school.

Councilor Gomes asked the City Council to have the Committee on Appointments and Briefings meet with Mr. Santos and Mr. Warner "for the purpose of bringing a campus prep school to the city."

In addition, Councilor Gomes asked that an inventory of downtown space that might be used for a music school be made available. Councilor Gomes said he has been at work with Mr. Santos for "nearly nine months on bringing this initiative to fruition."

The matter has now been sent to the Committee on Appointments and Briefings, but no date has been set for action.

Mr. Warner, in a letter sent to Councilor Gomes and provided to the council, said, "Our interest in seeing a school of this type in New Bedford has to do with one of the college's strategic initiatives, namely the rolling out of our Boston-based Berklee City Music (Network) Program for urban youth on a national level."

Mr. Warner's letter states that at its core, the program "includes a commitment to providing access to the study of contemporary music for an under-served youth audience." He said the program can promote "the life-changing role that a contemporary music education plays in the lives of these students."

In separate interviews, Mr. Warner and Mr. Santos said they have been working on bringing the program to the city for three years.

"I have had the vision for seven or eight years," Mr. Santos said of the school. He said growing up in the city, "I had tunnel vision ? I knew exactly what I wanted out of the (music) business."

Now, he said, he wants "to share that with students."

"It is a gift I treasure. ... I want kids to have the same opportunity that came to us."

Mr. Santos said that he envisions a "mini-Berklee" that would draw its students primarily from the city, but could potentially draw students from Cape Cod to Providence. He said he wants the school to be independent from the city school system.

Mr. Warner said the system that Berklee has set up for the Berklee City Music Network offers materials to instructors online. Separately, he said, self-paced tutorials are made available online to students. He stressed, however, that it is not an online teaching program, but uses the Internet only to disseminate materials while still requiring students work to face-to-face with music instructors.

Mr. Warner said Berklee requires certain criteria for community schools that seek to join its network, including they: Follow Berklee curriculum; offer instruction at no cost; target students who cannot afford a music education; and be well established in the community.

Students are instructed in the "Pulse" method that Berklee uses and there is a "Pulse" summer institute at Berklee for which scholarships are available for qualified students.

The Berklee College of Music was founded in 1945 and on its Web site calls itself the world's largest independent music college and the premier institution for the study of contemporary music. According to the Web site, it has 3,800 students and 460 faculty members, with about a quarter of its students coming from outside the United States.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com

Original Story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080225/NEWS/802250315

02-27-2008, 07:24 PM
Some interesting pictures and original sketches of Paul Rudolph's design for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.


02-27-2008, 08:10 PM
Thanks for the link, I love the original sketches. Umass Dartmough has (in my opinion) some of the best examples of brutalist architecture in the state.

A simple flickr search turns up some great photos for those who haven't been to the campus: http://flickr.com/search/?q=umass+dartmouth

Some examples taken from that flickr search:
http://img01.picoodle.com/img/img01/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_13459256074m_258b275.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_13459256074m_258b275.jpg&srv=img01)
http://img01.picoodle.com/img/img01/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_2841855938cm_d94723a.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_2841855938cm_d94723a.jpg&srv=img01)
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_28418559809m_66a5c02.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_28418559809m_66a5c02.jpg&srv=img34)
http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_28418560746m_491caa4.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_28418560746m_491caa4.jpg&srv=img27)
http://img03.picoodle.com/img/img03/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_4603044259cm_3771559.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_4603044259cm_3771559.jpg&srv=img03)
http://img03.picoodle.com/img/img03/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_22396533915m_186f5df.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_22396533915m_186f5df.jpg&srv=img03)

And one of the Orginal Sketches:
http://img03.picoodle.com/img/img03/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_45529642908m_c9c5302.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/2/27/jfoahs04/f_45529642908m_c9c5302.jpg&srv=img03)

Thanks, kmp, for a great link.

Ron Newman
02-28-2008, 09:31 AM
How do the students and faculty feel about the architecture? Do they embrace it, hate it, or some of both?

02-28-2008, 10:03 AM
If I had to generalize my experiences with people's opinions on the architecture of the campus in one word, I'd say: Indifference. It's strange really, because if you take anyone, even someone who knows nothing of architecture to City Hall in Boston, they comment on the design; usually it's negative, sometimes it's positive, but almost everyone has something to say.

UMass Dartmouth students (and the few faculty I've discussed it with) pay little to no attention to the actual architecture. Most comments I've heard are on the layout of the campus; mostly complaining that in order to walk to the central buildings from the dorms, they have to cross the main campus artery (a not-so-busy ring around the campus core) and long parking lots. The core of the campus, aka Rudolph's design, is designed well, and engaging to the pedestrian, and when I pushed for a response from friends, they acknowledged this.

Bottom line: it seems that no one on campus really has much to say about the layout or the architecture of the core of the campus which is probably a testament to a good plan and architecture. You can bet that if it wasn't done well, people would bitch and moan about it and that doesn't happen too often.

Ron Newman
02-28-2008, 10:09 AM
Thanks. Too bad UMass-Boston wasn't designed this well.

03-03-2008, 09:33 AM
FINALLY! New Bedford is in the hunt for a downtown (waterfront) hotel.

Downtown hotel land purchase closes

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
March 03, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? A Westport-based development group completed the purchase last week of land along the city waterfront for a planned 100-room hotel.

The purchase by Lafrance Hospitality Co. marks the first hotel project in the city's economic development program, and provides a potential anchor for waterfront and downtown development.

In addition, the hotel could play a supporting role in the city's future if a casino were built.

Richard Lafrance, who heads the firm that will oversee the hotel's construction and operation, downplayed the land purchase, noting that a number of steps remain, including finalizing development plans and securing a hotel franchise.

Mr. Lafrance said Friday he believed he might be able to provide more substantive information in about two weeks.

The sale price was not disclosed, but it was believed to be in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. The property was assessed by the city at $1.3 million.

When Mr. Lafrance and city officials announced plans for the hotel in January, Mr. Lafrance indicated that a spring 2009 opening would be possible. Also in January, Mr. Lafrance indicated plans were for a "mid-scale" hotel ? above a budget hotel and below a luxury, high-priced hotel. At the time of the announcement, the hotel building being proposed was a low-rise, consisting of about four floors with amenities including an indoor pool.

City officials on Friday also expressed muted enthusiasm about the sale. They cited it as a milestone in economic development efforts and hailed its potential for helping the city's hospitality and entertainment image. But, they cautioned, much work remains to be done.

The city has been trying for decades to secure a new hotel downtown.

Mayor Scott W. Lang, who took office more than two years ago, has been promoting a number of economic development issues, and considered a hotel to be a top priority.

Mayor Lang said Friday that a downtown hotel is an important component for the city's business environment and "creative economy," a term used to describe the arts, theater and galleries, and the people who patronize, operate and contribute to them.

"People come on day trips, now they can come and stay, and help drive the restaurants, museums and the theater," Mayor Lang said. "A hotel complements all of that."

"I am very enthusiastic about the Lafrance family ? they are acknowledging that New Bedford is a destination ... that is why this is so important.

Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said the city had commissioned a feasibility study, which was used as a marketing tool for prospective developers.

"I'm heartened by the latest development and look forward to continuing to work with Lafrance Hospitality to move this project to successful completion," he said.

Mr. Morrissey said a number of city groups and agencies will be engaged in seeing the project meets city standards including the City Council and Planning Board.

If plans move forward, the hotel will be built on property that has housed Delken Dry Cleaing & Laundromats, located across MacArthur Boulevard just off the New Bedford Harbor.

The property was owned by Scott Nanfelt. The building had, until recently, housed the Finicky Pet Food Co., which last year relocated further south along the waterfront.

The City Council began considering matters related to the hotel plan during its regular meeting Thursday night, when it referred to its Committee on Appointments and Briefings items related to discontinuing use of a portion of Water Street Extension and changes to MacArthur Boulevard and John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

Under current plans, the city will sell two small parcels of land to the hotel developer and make changes in the roadways to accommodate the development.

The Lafrance family has been involved in the hospitality business in SouthCoast for many years, beginning in Fall River and then opening White's in Westport more than 50 years ago. That has grown into a business with other restaurants and hotels along the SouthCoast and in other states.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com

"Securing a hotel franchise" I wonder how highly sought after New Bedford waterfront hotel space is? If none of the major middle rate hotel chains are interested, then being selective won't be possible. 4 stories sounds like this could turn into Motel 6- NB Waterfront, but I hope not. While a hotel is much needed downtown, I'd rather see no hotel than a motel on that type of real estate. The parking situation will be interesting too; I doubt this small-town developer (Westport?!) is going to be too concerned about garaging the site. It'll likely be a large open lot. Oh well hope for the best, prepare for the worst, right?

*Edit* forgot the link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080303/NEWS/803030337/1011/TOWN10

03-03-2008, 09:55 AM
It will be a Hampton Inn according to the people I have spoken with who are in the know. Peronally, I'm surprised they're wasting the money with New Bedford being such an economic and cultural wasteland. This is the best example I've ever seen of a feel good, pro bono, throw money into the sea development. I only spend time down there because the sailing is better than Marblehead.

03-03-2008, 10:09 AM
New Bedford has its many issues, but it's not an economic or a cultural wasteland. It brings in the most valuable catch in the United States in terms of fishing and is probably the best place in the state (country?) to enjoy the Portuguese-American experience. It has a sufficient Zoo in Buttonwood Park and a few music festivals and art galleries that do draw people in from elsewhere.

In fact, I (and I'm not alone) would consider New Bedford to have one of the best untapped potentials in the state considering it's proximity to the Cape and the Islands (which of course it will always play second fiddle to) and a University of a decent size that wants to invest in it's Oceanography program targeting New Bedford as the primary location.

A waterfront hotel is probably a good move by whomever builds there. Hampton Inn, while not great by any stretch, is a good start for the city. More need to follow this lead if the city expects to draw in more tourists, but this is a step in the right direction. The big concern is that they will set this up like, well, a typical Hampton Inn. The last thing New Bedford needs is River's Edge park part II. We'll see how this continues to develop. They're moving quickly by Massachusetts standards if this was proposed in January and now, in March, a land transaction is already being made.

Ron Newman
03-03-2008, 10:36 AM
The lack of a hotel in New Bedford is glaring. I might stay in it for Summerfest if it were built. Downtown New Bedford is a tourist area and will do better if people can actually stay there overnight.

03-03-2008, 10:40 AM
This is the problem though, you live there practically. Ask anyone who doesn't, and most likely they will view it the way I do. To us, it's homah-da-fish(home of the fish) and that's pretty much it. I know the mayor there is a really good guy, he would be a worthy successor to Menino if he lived in Boston, he's literate, seriously though, he's very well educated and highly articulate but the same cannot be said for most of the other local pols. I remember going to a time down there a few summers ago for the old DA($25 and unlimited beer, I think it was actually called the beer bash or something, it was at a VFW in a sketchy neighborhood) and over the course of the night I had the privilege of meeting some of these people, more than one one struck me as a real life forrest gump.

03-03-2008, 01:25 PM
Haha. I would agree about your past experiences with local politicians. However, The Lang era in New Bedford has brought many new faces to city. Lang himself is a passionate man and an educated man, but he's all over the place. My mother is a local politician (Freetown Selectman, Head of the Democratic Party of Freetown, and Freetown Police Commissioner) as well as a Workforce Investment Board employee in New Bedford and knows him personally. I have never met him, but her accounts of him are that he is (as you said) smart, ambitious, and passionate, but has a short attention span regarding action. His supporting cast will be what will make him a great mayor (if he becomes great). Sam Sutter, the current D.A., is also a personal friend of the family (my little sister dates his step-son) and is a brilliant man (educated at Brown) who will be much more successful than his predecessor (Paul Walsh). The future of New Bedford politics is bright, and the future of the city itself seems to be looking up.

Your point about people viewing New Bedford as "homah-da-fish" is well taken. In fact, you don't have to go too far outside of the city at all to hear that opinion (that's the common view in Freetown which borders NB to the North). The positive thing is that New Bedford has interest from the right people. The Lang administration is very pro development and there is a large artist community that would like to see a change as well.

Developments like hotels are necessary in order to change that perception that New Bedford is nothing more than a poor fishing slum. There are already areas that attract tourists, and the Whaling Museum, the future Oceanarium, Whaling District, and Downtown already draw people in locally. Also, as i said in the last post, New Bedford is on I-195, and has a bunch of Ferry routes as well as an Airport used by Cape-Air for travel to the Cape and the Islands. A hotel is the first step for a city that hopes to not only turn passers-by into overnight tourists, but an initiative to bring people in who normally wouldn't go to New Bedford.

The prospect of the Commuter Rail (albeit in 2017 at the earliest) will be a huge step for NB in terms of reinventing itself as well. A non-automobile connection to Boston will be great for a city with a walkable downtown area and access to the islands via ferry as well as potentially attracting white-collar Boston commuters to the area and being a starting point for any sort of TOD.

Finally, UMass Dartmouth's interest in NB as a hub for all of their marine-related operations cannot be underrated. A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II? Most likely not, but there's a lot of potential there and building hotels and changing perception are both steps in the right direction.

As Ron Newman said, the lack of a hotel is glaring... without one, no city can hope to draw visitors. I think this is a smart move on the part of whichever franchise builds there and I think it can act as a catalyst to bring in other hotels.

Ron Newman
03-03-2008, 01:47 PM
where is the future Oceanarium and what is its current status?

03-03-2008, 02:31 PM
it's the Ocean Explorium, and it's set to open this spring "at the New Bedford Seaport" it's address is 174 Union Street. So it's a couple of blocks away from the actual waterfront.

More information (including directions and a news page) here:

Construction and retro-fitting are nearly complete.

03-03-2008, 03:50 PM
[QUOTE=Lrfox;46846]A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II?[QUOTE]

On a positive note at least you're not one of those lunatics who thinks New Bedford is going to be the next Newport.

03-03-2008, 04:02 PM
[QUOTE=Lrfox;46846]A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II?[QUOTE]

On a positive note at least you're not one of those lunatics who thinks New Bedford is going to be the next Newport.

Newport? Not a chance. I think for comparison's sake the closest thing New Bedford could approach is Portland, ME but I still think Portland has too much that New Bedford doesn't (interest from all over the region and a highway that doesn't divide the city from the waterfront for starters, but it doesn't end there). New Bedford is in more of a position to improve than some other similar cities (take Fall River for example) and it has a government now that's very pro-development.

It's going to be at least a decade or two before we can safely say that New Bedford has solved some of its major problems, but steps in the right direction are being taken (Commuter Rail, Hotels, Proposals to turn route 18 into a surface boulevard, preservation projects, etc) and IF they're done correctly, in 20 years, the perception of New Bedford could be much different than what it is today ("IF" being the key word there).

New Bedford has too much local competition and too far to go to ever (in my opinion) be considered in the same league as Newport or Nantucket or any of the other great coastal cities and towns of Southern New England; but that doesn't mean it can't improve it's current status.

Ron Newman
03-03-2008, 04:37 PM
The places I'd prefer to compare it to are Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport (three other historic seaports) and Lowell (another once down-and-out town that has successfully attracted tourists).

03-03-2008, 06:22 PM
Those are probably better places to compare it to, I am just almost completely unfamiliar with Gloucester and Newburyport so I didn't feel comfortable throwing those names out there and I almost said Salem, but again, I'm more familiar with Portland. If you combined Lowell and Salem, you'd have something similar to New Bedford in its current state.

Ron Newman
03-03-2008, 06:51 PM
Gloucester is an active fishing port that also has a substantial tourist trade.

03-13-2008, 11:02 AM
KMP, Not trying to be pushy, but did you say you have pictures to post in this thread? If you're busy, you can send them to me and I'll post them for you this weekend when I have time.

03-14-2008, 10:34 AM
So it's not Hampton Inn after all, but Fairfield Inn is very similar.

Waterfront hotel would be Fairfield Inn & Suites

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
March 14, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The hotel planned for the city waterfront will be a four- to six-story Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, according to the preliminary development plan.

Of the 106 rooms, 78 will be standard hotel rooms and 28 would be suites. Construction will begin by this summer and be completed by summer 2009, according to the plan, which is preliminary and subject to change.

While plans have not been finalized, Westport-based Lafrance Hospitality Co. is moving ahead aggressively with the multimillion-dollar project. The developer has hired architects and engineers and is committed to an aggressive development schedule.

Lafrance Hospitality hopes to lay out its detailed plans for the hotel before the City Council on March 27.

Richard L. Lafrance, who heads the firm that would build and operate the hotel, was not available for comment Thursday. He has indicated in the past he plans a "mid-scale" hotel with amenities including an indoor pool.

The Lafrance family has a long history on the SouthCoast, with properties that include White's of Westport and Hampton Inns in Fairhaven and Westport, as well as facilities in other states.

Lafrance Hospitality closed in late February on the purchase of the bulk of the land for the hotel, paying an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million. The land was owned by Scott Nanfelt and had until recently housed the Finicky Pet Food Co., which relocated further south on the waterfront. It had been assessed by the city for $1.3 million.

Lafrance hospitality needs the City Council's approval to purchase two small pieces of land adjacent to the Nanfelt property to round out its development.

The development site is bounded by MacArthur Drive to the west, Walnut Street to the north and Water Street Extension on its east side. The official address of the hotel would be 144 Water St., according to the preliminary plan.

Two relatively small pieces of land ? one at the northwest corner and the other at the easterly tip ? would be sold by the city to Lafrance Hospitality to complete the development parcel. An existing building on Walnut Street would be left intact, according to the plan.

City officials have said they are pleased with the Lafrance Hospitality plan.

The New Bedford Economic Development Council had conducted a hotel feasibility study of building a new hotel in downtown. While they had been convinced the concept was economically viable, they had prior to the study been unable to convince a developer to commit to the project.

However, after the study was done and the economic viability was established, developers expressed interest in a hotel.

City officials have said a new hotel can be a cornerstone for improving the city's business climate and would support the "creative economy" and promote New Bedford as a travel and tourism destination.

Earlier this month, Mayor Scott W. Lang, whose administration spearheaded the hotel development effort, said: "People come on day trips. Now they can come and stay, and help drive the restaurants, museums and the theater. A hotel complements all of that."

It's funny that some of the comments on the Standard Times website about this are negative. People are complaining that this is the lowest Marriott Brand, which it is; but beggars can't be choosers. Since this will be the first hotel in the city, it's tough to argue for something nicer. If I'm in the hospitality industry I'm not going to build a 4 or 5 star hotel where not only is the market unpredictable, it just plain doesn't exist. You have to start somewhere, why don't people get that?

Also, the Cliftex Mill is being demolished this week to make room for another development (I'm not sure of what kind).

03-31-2008, 08:52 AM
Interesting article on Short Sea Shipping. This could potentially benefit more than just the South Coast, but since the focus of the article is a UMass Dartmouth Symposium and New Bedford and Fall River, I'll re-post it here. Some stimulus such as this one could be beneficial for coastal New England cities everywhere.

Short Sea Shipping the Wave of the Future?

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
March 31, 2008 6:00 AM

DARTMOUTH ? A "perfect storm of opportunity" could drive the East Coast to embrace short sea shipping and put ports such as New Bedford and Fall River back on the map as significant players in moving cargo up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

Climate change and transportation issues, including the push to cut emissions and rising fuel prices, could combine with the re-emergence of cities as sought-after places to live, spinning up the "perfect storm of opportunity," according to Douglas I. Foy, former state secretary of Commonwealth Development.
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Mr. Foy was speaking at a Short Sea Shipping Symposium last week at UMass Dartmouth.

Short sea shipping is a waterborne transportation system that does not cross an ocean. At the UMass conference, it was defined as freight moved in tractor-trailers carried long distances on water on specially made barges or ships. Short sea shipping advocates say it cuts costs, saves massive amounts of energy and dramatically reduces pollution. It has been widely used in Europe for years, and there is already some short sea shipping activity in the United States.

Mr. Foy has a longtime background in environmental advocacy and is a partner in Serrafix, a Boston company seeking to mitigate climate change and overhaul energy policy.

Richard S. Armstrong, executive secretary of the Massachusetts Governor's Seaport Advisory Council, said short sea shipping could be under way in New Bedford and Fall River within two years.

It could mean hundreds of jobs and many millions of dollars to the economy of a port city like New Bedford, officials said.

Mr. Armstrong said he has looked at 33 small East Coast ports as potential short sea shipping terminals and New Bedford and Fall River have outstanding characteristics.

Ideally, Mr. Armstrong said, a port in New England would be "paired" with another port, such as Port Canaveral in Florida.

In studying "port pairings," he looked at Port Canaveral and Wilmington, N.C., among others, and said there could be service between Florida and New England within two years.

Mr. Armstrong said the ports of New Bedford and Fall River have strong advantages, such as being small and flexible with infrastructure in place.

New Bedford Port Director Kristin Decas said the harbor has relatively low congestion and 30-foot depths. In addition to increasing use of the harbor and creating jobs, Ms. Decas said, short sea shipping through New Bedford would support industry in the region and put the area on the "front end" of supply chains for products.

She said a number of things would have to be done to prepare the harbor for short sea shipping, including involving the community, setting up a state-of-the-art terminal for roll-on, roll-off trailers and making certain other infrastructure was ready.

The UMass conference last week attracted about 60 attendees, including federal, state and local government officials, consultants, lawyers and environmental activists, along with a smattering of people from the shipping industry. Ports in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were represented.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who opened the symposium, said "cost effective and efficient transportation" is critical to economic competitiveness, and short sea shipping is an opportunity to "look at things differently" and to "get trucks off the road."

Rockford Weitz and Benjamin Mazzotta of the Fletcher Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University provided preliminary findings of their research on national security, environmental and economic benefits of short sea shipping.

Their findings indicate benefits would include increased productivity, reduced highway maintenance and congestion, cleaner air and safer highways.

Mr. Weitz and Mr. Mazzotta said they believe 20 smaller East Coast ports would lend themselves to short sea shipping and that the total investment in ports for a large-scale program would be $50 million, or no more than $5 million a port. They estimated it would take 200 sea-going vessels, including 177 barges. The cost of the vessels could run into the billions of dollars. They estimate that the short sea shipping business would create 13,000 jobs and at the scale of their estimates would remove 10 percent of the truck traffic from highways in the Northeast.

When congestion on highways gets bad enough, "entrepreneurs will arrive," they said.

Mr. Armstrong said he believes that if just 7 percent of north-to-south East Coast trailer truck traffic was shifted to short sea shipping, it would produce break-even operations.

Mr. Armstrong said that while short sea shipping barges travel 14 to 16 mph ? requiring four days to move from Florida to New England ? trucks average only 35 mph. That average is expected to drop to 27 mph as highway congestion intensifies, he said. And, because water travel is typically round-the-clock while truckers take extended breaks off the road, short sea shipping offers competitive timing for delivering freight, even for just-in-time shipments.

In the Tufts research, a short sea shipping program between Norfolk, Va., and Baltimore, using a single barge that carries 456 trailer-like containers was studied. That one barge carries the equivalent of 228 rail cars or 456 trucks. The estimated fuel use of the barge is one-eighth that of trucks.

Paul H. Bea Jr., formerly with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and now a public affairs consultant, said the federal government should provide funding for short sea shipping and suspend the Harbor Maintenance Tax that adds cost to short sea shipping and discourages its use.

Mr. Bea said the U.S. needs a "next generation" policy regarding transportation.

Mr. Foy said that when people learn about the advantages of short sea shipping, "It is an 'aha' moment."

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com


03-31-2008, 01:23 PM
I glad SSS is catching on as an idea. Not too many people know about it but it would really help the east coast.

This is a presentation by the president of the Association for Public Transportation to the Lieutenant Governor's transportation conference in October 2007. Go to page 21 to see the info on SSS.


03-31-2008, 02:39 PM
I had a couple dozen pictures on my cell but I must have deleted them, I apologize. I'll be down there April 6 & 13 for some sailing and I'll try to get into the city for a quick photo session. There's not a whole lot to be seen but I doubt many people have seen New Bedford at all.

03-31-2008, 06:33 PM
The LaFrance family has done a lot for the South Coast in the hospitality business. Good for them.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow if the weather is nice.

04-10-2008, 09:29 AM
I really hope this happens, and not just in New Bedford, but in many other coastal cities as well.


YOUR VIEW: Freight would complement city's fishing port

Ms. Decas is executive director of the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.
April 10, 2008 6:00 AM

Congestion is on the verge of collapsing the truck network.

With East Coast interstate trade projected to triple in the next 10-15 years, the nation's highway systems simply cannot handle the expected exponential increase in truck traffic. The goals of clean air, open space, and quality of life are incompatible with further extensions and expansions of the highway system. Short sea shipping, through the reuse of a reinvigorated and robust coastal shipping network, the "ocean highways," promises a sound alternative for the future and a real opportunity for economic growth for the port of New Bedford.

In order to supplement the editorial of April 1, I feel it is important to submit additional facts about short sea shipping and explain how it will compliment, not compete with, the existing industries that are the bloodline of the New Bedford economy.

Short sea shipping will not use New Bedford's commercial fishing infrastructure. In fact, plans are in play to expand the public piers and wharves that support the city's No. 1-ranked fishing fleet. Likely hubs for short sea shipping include State Pier and Maritime Terminal, with backland staging areas for truck traffic.

Short sea shipping equals jobs, and new jobs. Less than 20 years ago, three stevedore companies provided over 50,000 man-hours of labor for oceangoing import/export activity. Since that time, the port has seen a decline of 75 percent in labor man-hours, identifying it as a vastly undertapped resource for economic growth and job creation. Short sea shipping offers a viable opportunity to rebuild this labor market by bringing freight activity to the port.

Further, as a short sea shipping hub, New Bedford moves to the front line of the supply chain, lowering the cost of transporting cargo and thereby attracting new business to the area and stimulating economic growth of existing backland industries. This means more jobs. A study funded by the governor's Seaport Council indicated short sea shipping could bring as many as 800 jobs to the region.

As for truckers, short sea shipping is a win, and national trucking associations and unions are on board. The current turnover rate for truckers is over 100 percent due to rising fuel costs, regulations on long-haul trips, and the unwillingness of drivers to be away from home for long periods. Many truckers are paid by the number of trips made, not by miles traveled. Short-haul moves would allow them to run multiple trips and increase their income. Other benefits include lower fuel consumption and improved lifestyle. No jobs are lost; rather, there will be a shift to short-haul trips from long-haul trips. Traffic issues can be addressed by scheduling vessels and truck transport for night hours and staging trucks in industrial areas.

Short sea shipping will only be a piece of the vibrant working waterfront. The commercial fishing industry is the soul of our economy and will only gain by the revitalization of the port. There are opportunities on many fronts, including global import/export trade, industrial water-borne industries, recreational boating, and cruise and ferry services. It is not one use vs. another, but how all these industries can work as a whole to compliment one another and best sustain the great city of New Bedford.

04-11-2008, 08:48 AM
Ok, I'm double-posting, but I think it's necessary. The important part of this article (aside from the obvious support from the city) is that they're trying to work the historic building at this location into the design which of course likely means that this won't be the typical suburban looking mediocre chain hotel. It'll be unique looking, mediocre chain hotel; but hey, you have to start somewhere.

City Council rallies behind waterfront hotel plans
By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
April 11, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The City Council threw its support behind a downtown waterfront hotel proposed by the Lafrance family of Westport.

A majority of councilors openly expressed their excitement about the long-awaited project Thursday night. And a spokesman for the Lafrance family ? which has already spent about $2 million on the project ? pledged that the family would follow through on its promises.
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The hotel is proposed for land between the JFK Memorial Highway and Leonard's Wharf.

As currently proposed, the hotel would be five stories, 106 rooms with 101 parking spaces. Hotel amenities would include meeting rooms, fitness area and an indoor pool with Jacuzzi.

The council Thursday night conducted a public hearing and approved a series of measures allowing the city to go ahead with closing and realigning some streets and selling two small parcels of land to Lafrance Hospitality Co. The changes in the roads are necessary to allow development of the site, and the two small parcels would be added to the main property to support parking and green areas. Roads involved include a portion of Water Street Extension, MacArthur Boulevard and the JFK Memorial Highway.

The site currently houses an old building that dates back to the whaling industry. More recently, Finicky Pet Food Co. operated from the site before relocating further south along the waterfront.

Lafrance Hospitality has indicated it wants to begin construction this summer and open the hotel by summer 2009.

James H. Libby of Newport Collaborative Architects said plans for the hotel are still being worked out, but his firm is trying to incorporate at least part of the old whale-oil processing building into the plan and wants to make the look of the hotel align with other buildings in what is a historic area on the working waterfront.

Mr. Libby said the design would be "sensitive to the context" of the area and, as new construction, it will "fit in" with surrounding buildings.

R. Christian Lafrance told the council it can count on his family following through on its commitment. "We have already made a big investment in the city ? the hotel will be there," Mr. Lafrance said.

Those and other remarks from the development team brought positive reaction from the council.

"You are making a dream come true," Councilor Denis Lawrence Jr. said. "Kudos."

"I have been excited about this since I (first) heard about it," Councilor Bruce Duarte Jr. said, noting its location in Ward 4, which he represents.

"This is an initial start for many major projects," Council David Alves predicted.

Councilor Brian Gomes said, "It is a piece of the puzzle ? it will bring other things to the city."

The hotel project is a major achievement for the administration of Mayor Scott W. Lang, which convinced Lafrance to invest in the project. The Lang administration used a detailed study of the city's hotel market to convince Lafrance the plan was viable.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com


I love that NB is getting a decent hotel, but if it's a "dream come true" someone needs to go back an look at their goals again.

*Edit* Aerial photo of the site:
http://img36.picoodle.com/img/img36/4/4/11/f_HotelSitem_6266764.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/4/11/f_HotelSitem_6266764.jpg&srv=img36)

and the adjacent Historical Bourne Counting House:
http://img31.picoodle.com/img/img31/4/4/11/f_bournecountm_946c3dc.gif (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/4/11/f_bournecountm_946c3dc.gif&srv=img31)
I'm not sure what the "whaling era building" is that they plan to incorporate into the new hotel, but I don't think this is it (this is a registered historic landmark). I'll get a photo of it as soon as I find out.

04-16-2008, 09:34 AM
Ok, two articles from the standard times today. The first involves the idea of listing the historic tax cap to spur development in historical buildings like New Bedford's Fairhaven Mills. The second is about Mayor Land pushing for air service from New Bedford's airport to Hub cities like New York and Philadelphia.

Lift cap on historic tax credits

Economic viability will be the litmus test of mill reuse in New Bedford, Fall River and other cities around the state. The best way to spur redevelopment of those mills is through historic tax credits, but Massachusetts restricts the credits too tightly.

Though the state upped its annual cap on tax credits for historic rehabilitation from $10 million to $50 million in the past few years, the cap still pits SouthCoast mills against the wealth of historic buildings in Lowell, Boston and the rest of Massachusetts.

Limiting the credits, it might seem, is simple economics: The state can only afford so much. But a study commissioned by Grow Smart Rhode Island suggests that for every $1 million invested in that state's historic tax credit program, the economic activity ? mainly in temporary and permanent jobs and increased property-tax valuation ? totaled $5.35 million.

Here in Massachusetts, despite the cap, historic rehabilitation tax credits have begun to sculpt a new face for New Bedford. Witness the Bristol Building downtown (the one that houses the Green Bean cafe) and the Wamsutta Mill apartment project on the waterfront. Both received historic tax credits. Both are beacons of hope for the city, even if the Bristol Building didn't fill up as quickly as everyone hoped.

By lifting the cap, Massachusetts will speed the rate of mill redevelopment by making more projects economically viable.

Unfortunately, Rhode Island lawmakers have put their respected program in peril by voting last week to close it to new projects. The bill, approved by both legislative houses, cuts the reimbursement rate for projects already under way and calls for the state to borrow $280 million to keep the tax credits afloat.

In troubled economic times, it's easy to see how that could happen. After all, the economic activity the credits generate does not appear as a revenue line in the state budget. So when lawmakers see a big expenditure, the program gets targeted for cuts.

Maybe the Rhode Island tax credits have accomplished enough that the program can take a breather. Not so in Massachusetts.

Local backers of erasing the cap ? including New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang, Economic Development Council chief Matthew Morrissey, and state Rep. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport ? say the expense is well worthwhile.

Developers get the credit only when a project is completed. During the time that a large project is under construction, the property often gets reassessed, boosting tax revenue to the municipality. In the Rhode Island study, 24 percent of the value of the tax credits was recouped before the credit was issued.

As Rep. Rodrigues points out, Massachusetts applications for the tax credits have never exceeded the $50 million cap, because the cap creates a perception among developers that they won't get what the program promises.

When developers shy away, it's a big problem because city leaders can't recruit businesses to fill suites that don't exist. Mr. Morrissey believes uncapping the credit would lead to the speculative renovation he needs to market New Bedford's mills to companies that will bring jobs here.

If Massachusetts wants to revitalize its old urban centers, the subsidy the tax credit represents is indispensable. Without it, developers will opt to build new buildings for less money and far fewer headaches. And those buildings may be far from the city center, in a place that forces employees to burn a lot of time, money and fuel driving to work.

If we leave the mills empty, eventually they will be demolished, taking with them a piece of New Bedford's character ? precisely the character that will drive our city's renaissance with a little guidance from public policy.

It's time to rebalance the mix of state tax credits toward one that will be a boon to small post-industrial cities like New Bedford.


Interesting idea, and I don't see why the cap should be kept. but I also don't see how lifting the cap is going to singlehandedly save these projects. I doubt the cap acts as a prohibiter for most developers; I think the economy has filled that role currently. But what the hell, lift the cap, it can't hurt.

This Next one is a brief bit about potential airport service:

April 16, 2008 6:00 AM

City eyes air service to Northeast hub

NEW BEDFORD ? Mayor Scott W. Lang said Tuesday the city is pursuing regular commercial air service between New Bedford Regional Airport and a major hub such as New York, Newark, N.J., or Philadelphia.

He talked about a link between SouthCoast and a major airport during a meeting with members of the The Standard-Times editorial board Tuesday morning.

Current economic conditions are difficult, he said, and major air carriers have financial problems related to fuel costs, competition and other factors.

He said the regional airport might have to settle, in the near term, for service in twin-engine, turboprop aircraft with only nine passenger seats.

Those aircraft, similar to planes flown by Cape Air between New Bedford and the Islands, have lower operating costs in part because of less restrictive requirements on the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The mayor did not offer a timetable for when such a service might begin.


I'm as optimistic about New Bedford as anyone is, but this is pure fantasy. Until the city has a little more to offer, especially in this economic slump, no airline is going to offer service from New Bedford to a hub city. The best right now that I can see New Bedford getting is seasonal Cape Air service from an NYC area airport. This would see tourist use from the Tri-State vacationers, but I doubt a long-term, year round connection is viable right now.

04-22-2008, 10:19 AM
I think removing the tax credit cap is a brilliant idea. If there is high priority in relocating a business it is low taxes. Taxes kill economic development and lower tax revenue in the long term. I think the Mayor is learning from the Irish politicians and businessmen his office has been courting lately. If there is a contemporary model of economic develpment it is the Celtic Tiger.

Moreover, the other day I was walking along the riverfront on the Fairhaven side and was wondering if preserving the old mills is worth it. Maybe New Bedford ahould push something more radical such as demolition of the Mills and building new buildings. The waterfront is a goldmine with the long term EPA clean-up and the possible commuter rail to NB.

04-23-2008, 09:43 AM
^I'd have to agree with you on the mills buildings. I'd say tear them down and build with more density down there, it's going to happen soon, so they might as well start in that direction. If not, maybe incorporate the old buildings in a larger, denser development with a combination of the existing buildings and the addition of newer, more modern construction. If done correctly, it could look nice.

The other site I'm amazed has been vacant for so long is the open lot on the North side of Union street between Purchase and Pleasant streets. It's prime real estate, and something is bound to go there sooner or later.

But this is my contribution from the Standard Times for today, an article pertaining to the rebuilding of the Corson Building, destroyed by fire in 1997. It's set to re-open May 16th with everyone's favorite drunk, Ted Kennedy, doing the ribbon cutting:
Standard Times staff writer
April 23, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Ten years ago, a fire raged through the historic Corson Building, causing the roof to cave in and leaving little more than charred beams and shattered glass.

On the morning after the September 1997 blaze, the structure was a blackened shell in danger of collapse, its future anything but certain.
Most Viewed Stories

Yet, thanks to a sustained effort over the past decade, the William Street building will soon begin a new chapter in its long history, rising from the ashes to serve as an interpretive and educational space for the National Park Service.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., will be among the dignitaries on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, set for 3 p.m. May 16.

"This project really started the day after the fire when the Waterfront Historic Area League put up the money to stabilize it so it wouldn't be condemned. If it was torn down, there would have been this gaping hole right in the middle of the historic district," said Celeste Bernardo, Whaling National Historical Park superintendent.

The long-awaited park had become a reality less than a year before the fire, opening in November 1996.

Originally two separate buildings, dating from 1875 and 1884 and both owned by Temple S. Corson, who made his money in coal and shipping, the building had many uses over the years. It last housed the Piva family's popular Moby Dick gift shop, which featured nautical specialties and bric-a-brac.

After the fire, the Pivas donated the building to WHALE, which, in April 2004, passed it along to the Park Service. The National Park had been looking for more public meeting space within the park's boundaries, and the restoration project began with the planning and design phase.

Construction has been under way for the past 18 months. It started with the erection of a structural steel frame within the building ? the massive beams arrived in the city on seven trailers and were hoisted into place with a 60-ton crane.

The original brick exterior now features historically accurate windows and reconstructed storefronts, one of which will be occupied once again by the Pivas' Moby Dick store.

Located next to the park's visitor center, the three-story building has a large exhibition space and a 55-seat theater on the ground floor. The featured displays include an illustration of the global reach of the New Bedford whaling industry. A map of the world, 14 feet wide, includes 50 of the ports most frequented by New Bedford whaling vessels, while a huge wall map depicts the city and its wharves as they appeared in 1876.

Considerable exhibition space is also devoted to the successful restoration of the city's historic district with illustrations of the many buildings that have been saved.

"It speaks to the vision preservationists have of what can be," Ms. Bernardo said, pointing as an example to a picture taken in the 1970s of a dilapidated Rodman Candleworks building, which now houses the popular Candleworks restaurant.

"If you saw that building, you would think that no one in their right mind would want to save it. But look at it now. People forget that, since the late '50s, New Bedford has been a leader nationally in historic preservation. We are one of the first national historic landmark districts in the country."

The second floor of the renovated building will be used for public and educational programming and the third floor to provide office space for park staff. Park officials say that the $6 million restoration project, wholly funded by the park service, should be celebrated by all city residents.

"We want the community to come," Jennifer Gonsalves, chief of visitor services, said. "We've had firemen coming by already for a peek and they can't believe the building. We want the local contractors to come to see the fruits of their labor. This is a real celebration."

Contact Don Cuddy at doncuddy@s-t.com

and some highlights of the reconstruction project:

At a glance

The Corson Building in downtown New Bedford, devastated in a blaze 10 years ago, is back in business as a National Park Service educational space after a $6 million restoration project. It was originally two buildings, built in 1875 and 1884.

The new space will feature:

* A 55-seat theater
* A large exhibition space
* A 14-foot-wide map of the world that includes the 50 ports most frequented by New Bedford whaling vessels
* Displays on New Bedford history
* A return of the Moby Dick gift shop, which was housed in the building before the fire
* Space for educational programming and National Park Service offices

Two Pictures, the first is from user: RaphaelMazor on flickr, and the second is the Standard Times interior staff Photo:
http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/4/23/f_CorsonBuildm_31b251e.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/4/23/f_CorsonBuildm_31b251e.jpg&srv=img27)

http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/4/23/f_Corson2m_cd6dd6c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/4/23/f_Corson2m_cd6dd6c.jpg&srv=img34)

04-24-2008, 04:09 PM
Good to see the Corson building back in order. I have walked by there on my way to my watering hole and was wondering when it would open. North of the downtown historical district is prime property. Any open spaceis worth purchasing and developing in this area.

04-25-2008, 10:04 AM
Apparently the city of New Bedford is going to slap some restrictions on outdoor dining. The plan calls for restaurants to require permits from the city to set up outdoor seating, requiring there to be at least 4 feet of passable sidewalk between the closest table and the road. If there are barriers or fences, they must be easily movable, as nothing on the street can be permanent. If a restaurant serves alcohol, barriers MUST be in place, separating the people on the streets from the patrons. No one can order just alcoholic drinks, they must have something else (not clear yet on whether you need a full meal, or if splitting bread or an appetizer will suffice). Each restaurant that sets up outdoor seating must have a full menu.

No word on what the cost of obtaining a permit is, but I'm hoping it's minimal. New Bedford wouldn't have much without its restaurants, and slapping restrictions on them is not a great way to attract more. I love dining outdoors and I would hate to see this go away because of some over-the-top ordinance. Bad move in my opinion, but depending on the price of permit, and the specifics of the regulations, it could end up being worse.

Standard Times Photo:
http://img30.picoodle.com/img/img30/4/4/25/f_outdoorcafem_03b4e70.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/4/25/f_outdoorcafem_03b4e70.jpg&srv=img30)

link to the article:

04-29-2008, 09:45 AM
Just found and joined this site. I am from New Bedford. Here are a few pics I have taken of the city.



















04-29-2008, 12:03 PM
Hey Greg, welcome to the site and thanks for the great pictures. I'm a Southcoast guy as well. I look forward to your contributions (in text and photographic form).

04-29-2008, 01:20 PM

04-29-2008, 07:04 PM
Best New Bedford pics I've seen yet! I never thought this city had a decent skyline...until now!

04-30-2008, 11:43 AM
Nice shots, thanks for sharing!

Ron Newman
04-30-2008, 12:37 PM
Quite an attractive little city. Why do so many people think badly of it?

04-30-2008, 02:13 PM
It's a very attractive little city with a fascinating history and a nice setting.

I think there are many reasons it's thought badly of.
1) It's overshadowed as a destination by nearby Cape Cod and the Islands, Newport RI, Providence. If you're a South Coast resident, and you're looking to go to a little city, you go to Providence. If you're looking for a fun, seaside town, you go to Newport, RI. If you're looking for a beach getaway, you go to the Cape, Islands, Westport Beaches, or Middletown, RI.

2) It has a large immigrant population. The Portuguese have carved out their niche and become part of the reason to go to New Bedford, but its large population of working Guatemalan and Cambodian (many of whom are illegal) immigrants scare people off as well.

3) Crime/ the "Secret City" reputation. New Bedford has a moderately high crime rate at 7.2 violent crimes per 1,000 people (while similarly sized Lowell is at 8.2 per 1,000). The city has garnered a reputation as secretive in terms of reporting/solving crimes as evidenced by the famous "Big Dan's Bar" rape case (the basis for the "Accused" staring Jodi Foster).

New Bedford has improved and continues to do so but has a ways to go. The perception of New Bedford is still bad, although it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. That will change with continued improvement. Hell, talk to someone who hasn't been to Providence in 15 years and they'll tell you how shitty it is... this stuff takes time.

*Edit* crime and demographic information found here: http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=3052

05-02-2008, 06:13 AM
I find the immigrant population to be a high point about the city. It is a minority city. For years immigrants from all over came here including the English, Irish, French-Canadians, Portuguese, Azorians, Madeirians, Cape Verdians, Germans, Norweigians, Italians, Lebonese, Greeks, Polish, Guatemalians, etc, came here during the last sentury to work in the factories.

However, many of the ethnic groups are moving out to the suburbs or their children have moved to other places throughout the United States and elsewhere. The way to measure the presence of these ethnic groups is to study their churches.

One Polish church remains after four have closed; two French church remains (the famous brownstone St. Anthony's) after four have closed; the only German church closed; there are no Norweigian Lutheran churches left; the Greek Orthodox church is moving to Dartmouth; there are three Portuguese churches and one Cape Verdian church however sometime in the next five years there will be two Portuguese churches and probably no Cape Verdian church (the pastor of one of the Portuguese churches explained to me that his neighborhood is slowly becoming Hispanic); there is one Lebonese church but they will probably move to the suburbs in the next 10 years or close.

Of course you may be able to argue the people are no longer attending church as they once did in years past, however, this may also show that the enthic groups are becoming Americans if they remain.

The reason why I bring this up is because many argue that one of the great things about New Bedford is the Portuguese feasts and restuarants. There are no new Portuguese restuarants opening downtown and the Cape Verdian Independence parade was cancelled this year for lack of funding. The writing is on the wall: the ethnic and immigrant groups that made the city colorful in years past are dying.

If the commuter rail does get built, get prepared for a new New Bedford: a city of new immigrant groups and young professionals working in Boston and Providence. The architecture will reflect the trend.

Ron Newman
05-02-2008, 08:48 AM
Which new immigrant groups are displacing the ones that you listed?

05-04-2008, 07:24 AM
Which new immigrant groups are displacing the ones that you listed?

Indian, Nigerian, Cambodian, Haitian, and Vietnamese. The Guatemalans and Brazilians will still come but will trickle down in a few years. New Bedford tends not to attract Brazilians and they are, for the most part, returning to a strong and growing economy in their homeland.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

But there will be a strong growth in young professionals from Boston and Providence for cheap housing, especially in the downtown area, which will push north and south.

05-06-2008, 06:33 AM
Nice shots, thanks for sharing!

Hey Corey
Great photos on your blog. I didn't know Mt Washington was visable from Portland! Very cool photo. I have to visit Portland soon, it has been a long time.

05-06-2008, 02:21 PM
Senator Mark Montigny is moving forward with a plan that could more than triple the size of BCC's Downtown Campus.

Montigny proposing new, greatly expanded BCC campus for New Bedford

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
May 06, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? State Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny said Monday he is putting forward a plan for a new, separate campus for Bristol Community College downtown that could triple the college's existing space, consolidate all operations in one location and act as an economic stimulus.

Sen. Montigny said the plan has the backing of the entire New Bedford legislative delegation and could produce a new facility for BCC in as few as two years, depending on whether the state decides to buy, build or lease a building.

"I'm excited about it. It is one more jewel in the downtown's crown" and will offer a "whole new base to ... students," Sen. Montigny said. "They deserve to have a campus to call their own."

BCC's headquarters are in Fall River. It opened its New Bedford campus in 2001, starting with 437 students, and now has more than 1,500 enrolled. BCC officials said the local campus is running at 97 percent capacity, with operations spread out in different buildings and classes offered seven days a week and weekday evenings.

The local BCC campus offers a range of programs on two major tracks: college degree and work-force training. Depending on how space is measured, the New Bedford campus has 10,000 to 14,000 square feet, while other Massachusetts cities each have up to a million square feet of community college space.

Sen. Montigny said he believes BCC needs a new facility ranging in size from a minimum of 22,000 square feet to as much as 40,000. He said only a rough cost estimate could be made at this time: up to $10 million. It would be financed only with state money.

Sen. Montigny pointed to the Star Store campus of UMass Dartmouth that also houses most of BCC's local operations as an example of how public money can be used to stimulate private investment and lasting economic development.

As a proponent of the Star Store campus, Sen. Montigny said he began work on that project 10 years ago as part of a three-phase plan.

In the first phase, public money was used to leverage private money to take an empty building in a downtown that was not vibrant. In the second phase, private investment followed, creating restaurants, shops and other business activities.

In the coming third phase, Sen. Montigny said, "We are ready for a natural expansion of BCC" with "a structure everyone knows is BCC's campus" to provide worker training and higher education. He said that while the "private sector has bought in," a new BCC campus will stimulate further investment in the downtown in housing, entertainment and the arts and other commercial uses.

"We have one of the finest small-city downtowns in the country," Sen. Montigny said, with "natural assets" such as 200-year-old buildings, cobblestone streets and other physical attributes that are connected to the harbor and Buzzards Bay.

Sen. Montigny said he views BCC as an important asset with significant potential to train and educate the region's work force and help people improve their lives.

At a meeting last week conducted by local BCC officials to report on the college's growth and encourage local groups to support its future plans, college officials said there appears to be a correlation between the amount of community college space in a Massachusetts city and the education level of its residents and per capita income. New Bedford was reported to have less space than other cities by a significant amount and correspondingly low numbers for level of education and income.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com


05-07-2008, 06:27 AM
By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
April 16, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD ? Less than a year after the Delta Connection Academy shut down, Bridgewater State College and the New Bedford Regional Airport formally announced a bigger, better student flight training program to open this fall at the airfield.

At a ceremony in the airport Terminal Building Tuesday morning, college President Dana Mohler-Faria, Mayor Scott W. Lang, Airport Manager Edward DeWitt and others said the pullout of Delta last August turned out to be to their collective advantage.

"It is a win for the college and a win for the city," Dr. Mohler-Faria said. It marks a "new era of cooperation between the college and the city" and will lead to a premier program and potentially many more collaborative projects.

He said that the college will have more flexibility, be better able to control costs and have a greater ability to "create excellence," under the new agreement.

Mayor Lang, recounting how his administration had said that 2008 will be the "year of the airport," said he sees the return of the flight school operations as one piece of many to improve the facility ? a "tremendous untapped resource" for the region and "great economic engine for the city."

He said the college plans a bigger and more modern program than was offered by Delta and it will be the finest in New England and eventually in the country as it provides aircraft and flight training career opportunities to students.

City Councilor David Alves said the flight school adds to the city's growing list of educational facilities and programs.

"I see New Bedford as a real focal point for education," he said.

In addition, he said, the program enhances the airport, an important asset the city offers to businesses that bring jobs and investment.

Mr. DeWitt said the program will "transform young men and women from all over the United States" and infuse them with the "magic and passion" of aviation.

The college is scheduled to take over the lease on a city-owned building at the airport June 1. Classes will start with the fall semester. The school is planning to lease 11 aircraft, eight of which will be brand-new basic training planes and three that will be more advanced, complex aircraft.

The college said it expects 150 students in the program this fall. At its height, the Delta Connection Academy had about 190 students.

In addition to direct benefits from returning the flight training program to the airport, there are indirect benefits such as increasing the number of flights at the airport, something used by federal authorities in evaluating support for airfields, officials said.

When the Delta program shut down, students had to find other flight schools. Most continued their training at three airports in eastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford.

05-08-2008, 02:55 PM
This is all good news for the city. My sister is going to start taking flight lessons in NB soon.

05-15-2008, 07:10 PM
New Bedford as 'Seed City'

By Steven J. Bouley
May 14, 2008 6:00 AM

New Bedford has lived under an onslaught of despair and negative headlines long enough. Our resolve to protect and project our worthiness is at stake. We can choose to be defeated or to win as overcomers. Let's use our never-give-up attitude, imagination and competence as the fertile soil, sunshine, and water source our blossoming "center of hope" will require.

New Bedford is not close to being a perfect city. No city is. But, believe it or not, New Bedford is still packed with potential. Our challenge is to recognize and release it. We are 30 miles from Providence, 50 miles from Boston, 30 miles from Cape Cod, 30 miles from Newport and a boat ride from islands that attract presidents. In our own right, we are steeped in history; we've been No. 1 in the world in whaling, the garment industry, and fishing to this day. We are readily accessible by land, air and sea.

In addition to our scholastic, business, industrial, tourist, and natural resource base, we are poised for an expanded airport, a high-speed train system, advanced medical services, and other high-tech enterprises. We have a population of diversity and a willingness to work. The attributes go on and on, not the least of which is the alluring affordability of our housing. We are located in the middle of an expanded job-prospering geography. The potential, again, is unlimited. New Bedford clearly and objectively positions as the center of hope.

Let's consider a belated thank-you to our journalist friend from Boston who years ago tried to characterize New Bedford as "Pit City." His intentions at the time were to word-handle us into accepting an image of ourselves in some dark cavity of the commonwealth where dogs fight and seediness thrives ? a city to be "pitied," a place where people are "wailers." We are not willing to allow malicious intent to define us and, in fact, have since moved to action. We all need to say, "Thank you, sir, for getting personal in focusing on our home area; you've motivated us to respond positively and stirred our attitude of hope."

Please allow me to offer a more refreshing and refined definition: Consider the word "pit" in its other definition as a seed. Therefore, a seed city is found in the middle of a potentially fruiting area. A seed city is a location that protects and harbors the life hope of future generations. Another possibility is that a seed city is one that challenges. It seeds itself against life-threatening situations to overcome, and it seeds itself with other cities by the attraction of its developing lifestyle.

Boston is fondly known as Bean Town, certainly a great city and interesting place to visit. It is most assuredly the center of our state's governmental and economic work wheel. New Bedford is a great city, too, fondly known as the Whaling City. With our more accurate assessment of us as Seed City or the center of hope in a fruitful area, one may choose not only to come to visit, but join our soon-coming revival by moving in.


A little civic pride can go a long way. While I think a little of this piece is a bit over the top (where did he get high speed rail from?), I agree with the vast majority of it. I can't see myself calling New Bedford, "Seed City" (if for no other reason then the fact that the "Whaling City" is so fitting and endearing), but the point is very well taken.

I'm again making a connection to Portland Maine, as it is the most similar city I have spent a significant amount of time observing. Portlanders and Mainers in general take a great amount of pride in Portland (and yes, rightfully so). Everywhere you go in the Portland area, it's impossible to miss something that is selling their own city. Whether it's as simple as banners hanging from street lamps along Congress Street, or reading an "information guide" on the city, all you see and hear are highlights on the arts, the culture, the nightlife, the dining, etc.

Even the local news has a tendency to take the bright-side approach to area events. One example, sticks out in my mind vividly: I had just finished reading an article on how the DownEaster (Amtrak's regional train from Portland to Boston's N. Station) faced being cut due to lack of funding and that of all of the commuters on the train, only about 21% were regular commuters. Yet in light of all of this, the story I see on WCSH 6 the same day highlighted how the Downeaster boasts an 84% satisfaction rate among riders. Sure, the news of the termination of service as of January 1, 2009 surfaces (as did the other ridership numbers) but the ability of the Portland station to pull some good (84% of riders satisfied with service) out of a sad story (the looming end of the Downeaster) was impressive to me. It's positive tidbits (no matter how skewed) like that that could push locals to fight harder when it comes time to end service.

This is something New Bedford lacks. Sure, there are pockets of locals (like the author of the above letter) that see the potential of New Bedford, but there is an air of negativity that is abound anytime the name of the city is mentioned. People who have never even been cringe at the thought of the city, and why? Is it the crime that has reputedly "plagued" the city? The violent crime rate here (according to epodunk.com) is lower than Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lowell, and Providence; yet most of those cities (with the exception of Fall River) have a much more positive reputation.

Is it the culture? I don't see how, New Bedford has plenty of notable museums (New Bedford Whaling Museum, Schooner Ernestina, Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, New Bedford Art Museum, New Bedford Fire Museum and the New Bedford Ocean Explorium opening this summer), a nice zoo (in the middle of Fredrick Law-Olmstead's Buttonwood Park), a bunch of art galleries, a national historic area in the form of 16 blocks of preserved cobblestone streets from the 1700s and 1800s, Dining options that could rival (if not exceed) any comparably sized city, performing arts, live music venues, nightclubs, bars (all in a nice setting), etc etc etc.

Is it the setting? That doesn't make sense either. Situated on Buzzards Bay with views of the Elizabethan Islands, and Martha's Vinyard from some spots, It has arguably one of the prettiest settings of any New England city, right up there with Portland, ME; Burlington, VT and Newport, RI.

Shopping? Not a problem either. Within the city limits, there are some interesting local boutiques, especially of the clothing variety. Joseph Abboud is a local designer who's designs have been picked up by Macy's. The boutiques are not restricted to the downtown area as the North and South Ends also house this type of retail (particularly bridal gowns). Just across the city line is the Dartmouth Mall area, typical suburban retail, and if you want more, Silver City Galleria and Taunton's retail is a quick ride up route 140, and Providence is 25 minutes west on 195.

No, it's hard to see why New Bedford has this negative reputation. A little pride could do the city some good, and that positive vibe would spread outward and change the reputation amongst outsiders. In Portland's case, I felt that a lot of the hype was overdone, but the postive atmosphere really helps increase the enjoyment of visitors. After all, how can you expect other people to enjoy spending time in your city, when you don't enjoy it yourself?

05-15-2008, 11:41 PM
Steven J. Bouley is a real estate agent, no crap he paints such a rosey picture. It's the economy and after that it's the schools.

I do like the idea of a "seed city". I think instead of having the poorer cities that ring Boston have to fight amongst themselves for wealth, they need to pool their small resources and work together. A "seed city" work along those lines. But a seed for the city needs to be a purpose for people to be there. Sure he names some good attractions but those only hold people for so long. These cities need to find a new economic engine.

05-16-2008, 10:28 AM
^ Didn't know he was a real estate agent. That would explain the superior "rosiness" of his description. At the same time, a lot of what he said was entirely true. The "seed city" idea is a good idea as well.

In other news, the proposed (and approved) waterfront hotel is already paying dividends:

City's waterfront lands big fish restaurant to complement hotel, downtown

City officials say the restaurant will complement a new hotel planned on an adjacent parcel and support their vision for a resurging downtown with a "creative economy" that includes entertainment.

Kevin C. Santos said his new eatery, The Waterfront Grill, has overcome a number of hurdles and will open within weeks on a half-acre parcel at the end of Homer's and Leonard's wharves just off the JFK Memorial Highway at the foot of Route 18

The full story by Joe Cohen of the ST: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080516/NEWS/805160333

Corson building is officially complete and a video of it is available here:

06-04-2008, 11:20 AM
New Bedford Markets Itself as Cruise Ship Destination

http://img31.picoodle.com/img/img31/4/6/4/f_bildem_b566050.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/4/f_bildem_b566050.jpg&srv=img31)
After a morning tour of downtown New Bedford on Tuesday, passengers of the cruise ship American Star return to the vessel for lunch.

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
June 04, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The 215-foot cruise ship American Star glided into port Monday night, sidled up to State Pier and inaugurated the city's 2008 cruise ship season. It was scheduled to sail from the harbor at 3 a.m. today.

Port officials said their goal this year is to step up the region's image for cruise ships, encouraging passengers to take in sights, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, galleries and restaurants downtown.

The American Star is operated on the "New England Islands" cruise out of Providence, and is visiting Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in addition to New Bedford.

The American Star was launched in 2007 by American Cruise Lines, whose headquarters are in Guilford, Conn. It has a 45-foot beam, four decks and carries up to 100 passengers in cabins ranging from singles to triples. Timothy J. Beebe, vice president of American Cruise Lines, described the cruise ship as intended to provide simplicity and comfort versus outright luxury.

American Cruise Lines is the only operator of cruise ships visiting the city.

Kristin Decas, executive director of the Harbor Development Commission, said she recently negotiated a five-year contract for a minimum of 20 cruise ship stops a year to visit the city. Ms. Decas said this year American Cruise Lines expects to have 25 cruises make stops at State Pier.

Mr. Beebe said the cruise line will have three boats visiting New Bedford in 2008, and she anticipates adding a fourth boat to its schedule for 2009. The cruises are typically a weeklong and visit ports including the islands and, in some instances, Bristol, R.I.

"The passengers love it," Mr. Beebe said of the stops in New Bedford.

He said the whaling museum is the high point of the local visit. He said the cruise line has stopped in the harbor since 2000 and the working relationship with local officials has been good.

"New Bedford has been a great port of call. It has been successful for many years," Mr. Beebe said.

Mr. Beebe said that despite the tough economy, business has remained solid and it has a new ship under construction.

Mr. Beebe would not disclose how many passengers were on the ship for the current cruise, but said it is near capacity.

Ms. Decas said of the passengers, "The neat thing is the people are here in New Bedford as a destination."

She said the city is providing transportation to places of interest nearby and wants to make the cruise ship stops as successful as possible to encourage more visits and tourism.

"We are building synergy with the historic downtown and the business community," Ms. Decas said.

Mayor Scott W. Lang said cruise ships help maximize the potential of the working waterfront.

"This is very important for New Bedford and the region because the people who come to tour the city see the tremendous attributes. They also make their way around the region, so it enhances the entire area."

Mayor Lang said a cruise ship with 100 people "helps to drive the economy."

"The passengers go back, they tell their friends ? many of whom are nearby ? and they can make a day trip here by car."

Ms. Decas said her goal is to encourage other cruise lines to consider New Bedford. She is traveling to Maine this month to a regional cruise conference where she will "campaign for New Bedford."

In addition, Ms. Decas said, the HDC is studying the economic impact of various industries on the local port economy and will continue tuning its marketing and related efforts to build business.

One local business benefiting from the cruise ships is Whaling City Expeditions, whose brightly colored, canopy-covered launch, the Acushnet, takes people on tours of the port, including the Fairhaven side.

Jeff Pontiss, who runs Whaling City Expeditions, said Tuesday afternoon that he had more than 20 people from the American Star aboard the Acushnet touring the harbor. The boat can take up to 26 passengers.

Mr. Pontiss said the Acushnet carries the cruise ship passengers along the waterfront, including in and out of piers, to see scallopers and draggers, and the hurricane barrier. It travels upriver under the Route 6 bridge to see where sailor Joshua Slocum left to circumnavigate the globe.

"They always seem to have a very good time," Mr. Pontiss said of the 70-minute boat trip. He charges adult passengers $14, seniors $12 and children $7.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com

They could start by advertising the small, but already existing cruise line that frequents NB. I didn't even know it existed and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

*Edit* the link to the original article: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080604/NEWS/806040301/1011/TOWN10
the website also has a video interview

06-12-2008, 08:43 PM
Sweet... triple post, but it's a good one.

Ocean Explorium Set to Open July 4

a video with some good shots of the interior as well as some exhibits is available at the NB Standard Times Website. The link to the video is here:

I'll be down to see it as soon as it opens and post pictures. I hope it's as good as it's hyped up to be.

In other news, Senator Montigny has proposed a $25 Million waterfront redevelopment around the State Pier.

State funding to provide a $25 million face-lift to transform the downtown waterfront around State Pier into a tourist-friendly destination was proposed Wednesday by Sen. Mark C. W. Montigny.

Attractions could include restaurants, a fish market, public recreation and other facilities

It's worth noting that this proposal will (if completed) make use of the already planned downgrading of the Route 18 highway in downtown to a "pedestrian friendly" surface boulevard.

full story:

06-13-2008, 01:00 PM
Seems like Homah da Feesh has a little arson problem.


06-14-2008, 10:03 AM
Plan to use New Bedford as a labor pool for Martha's Vineyard through the city's ferry and airport


06-15-2008, 10:16 AM
^^Yeah, while MV residents aren't happy about it, it's a fantastic opportunity for people in SE mass who are having trouble finding seasonal employment. My younger sister is looking into taking advantage of the $10 round trip airfare for the employees. Smart move for the parties involved.

Other news from today's ST:
Route 18 renovations could begin next fall

NEW BEDFORD ? Construction for the planned renovation of Route 18, a key component in a proposed $25 million refurbishment of the city's downtown waterfront, could start as soon as fall of 2009, officials say.
story continued here:http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080615/NEWS/806150362


Waterfront Isn't Worried
http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/4/6/15/f_NBWaterfronm_9634cc7.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/15/f_NBWaterfronm_9634cc7.jpg&srv=img26)

NEW BEDFORD ? City fishing industry members aren't threatened by proposed plans to develop tourist attractions on the New Bedford waterfront because a state law protects traditional maritime industries from being displaced by commercial or residential development.

Jim Kendall, a seafood consultant and former fisherman, said he doesn't think there is "any real fear" of the port becoming gentrified or losing its character because it's protected by the law, which is known as Chapter 91.
the rest is here: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080615/NEWS/806150351

The redevelopment of 18 can't happen soon enough. It will certainly act as a big link to the state pier and waterfront attractions. good move for New Bedford.

06-23-2008, 08:56 PM
MassHousing to seek proposals for 16-story Regency; broadens options for use

Mayor Scott W. Lang's administration has been working with MassHousing in an effort to get the building back into private hands and return it to good condition. Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said that he and Patrick Sullivan, who oversees the city's housing program, have been working with MassHousing.

"The mayor is confident that this building can be turned around and become a real asset in the ongoing revival of downtown New Bedford," Mr. Morrissey said.

While I've never been in the building, I've always felt it would be perfect for restaurant on the top floor. I don't know if it's even possible, and i doubt it would even be considered, but the views from there of the harbor, Fairhaven, the Elizabethan Islands and maybe even MV (?) would be fantastic.

Any redevelopment of this building is a good thing.

a picture for reference... the Regency is the one all the way to the right:
http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/6/23/f_Rgencym_2bc1e5f.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/23/f_Rgencym_2bc1e5f.jpg&srv=img27)


From the Herald News:
ROAD TO THE FUTURE: City mulls Route 79 changes to spur development
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/6/23/f_Route79m_0543dda.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/23/f_Route79m_0543dda.jpg&srv=img34)
(79 passes through Fall River along the waterfront)

Fall River ?Plans to turn Route 79 and Davol Street into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard are moving forward, and project planners are seeking public input on how to complete the task.
For the past year, a group of city officials and transportation experts have studied a series of options for turning the two roads into one passable route they hope will improve access to the waterfront and foster development near City Pier.

More here: http://www.heraldnews.com/news/local_news/x78889093/ROAD-TO-THE-FUTURE-City-mulls-Route-79-changes-to-spur-development

If it happened, this would be huge for Fall River. I've said all along that NB has the advantage of the two SouthCoast Cities in terms of gentrification because of the better downtown and because it would be much easier to convert 18 to a surface highway than it would be for 79. We'll see what happens. I bet city residents will hate this, "didn't they build the highway to help?! our tax dollars, wah wah wah."

06-30-2008, 10:28 AM
More on the plans to change ownership of the Regency and potentially convert it from rentals to Condos (affordable and market rate).

The great New Bedford high-rise tower
Jack Spillane column

The Regency stands out, like some sort of testament to urban redevelopment gone bad, an omen about the downside of government planning when it goes sour.

http://img28.picoodle.com/img/img28/4/6/30/f_Regency1m_b79b289.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/30/f_Regency1m_b79b289.jpg&srv=img28)
http://img32.picoodle.com/img/img32/4/6/30/f_Regency2m_6d51c90.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/6/30/f_Regency2m_6d51c90.jpg&srv=img32)
(ST Photos)


I wonder if the people suggesting a move to Condos have any idea about how bad the condo market is. If condos close to downtown Boston are listed at less then 300k and still not selling, then how well can Downtown NB condos do? The right idea would be to convert it to mixed use. Office on some of the lower floors, condos on the upper floors ( a restaurant/ upscale club on the top floor/penthouse wouldn't be a bad idea). Finally, they should consider nixing the "city garden" and build out towards the street with some street level retail/ restaurant space (maybe a grocery store). It's in a prime spot (at the intersections of route 6 and some downtown streets) for mixed use development.

07-04-2008, 05:47 PM
For anyone who's interested, Summerfest takes place this weekend (4,5 and 6th) in Downtown New Bedford. If you have any interest in seeing the city, this is a good time to go. Arts, music, fireworks, food, it's a good time.

More information can be found here: http://www.newbedfordsummerfest.com/
and here: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080704/SPECIAL29/807040301

Some pics (google image search) from Summerfest '07:
http://img37.picoodle.com/img/img37/4/7/4/f_Summerfestm_34f20df.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/7/4/f_Summerfestm_34f20df.jpg&srv=img37)
http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/4/7/4/f_Summerfest2m_50c407e.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/7/4/f_Summerfest2m_50c407e.jpg&srv=img27)
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/4/7/4/f_Summerfest3m_9817e34.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/4/7/4/f_Summerfest3m_9817e34.jpg&srv=img34)


The Brand New Ocean Explorium is offering a sneak preview to all Summerfest guests and the Whaling Museum will be open free of admission as well for the weekend.

07-26-2008, 07:24 AM
Alright, I haven't updated in about 3 weeks due to lack of responses, but I have a little more now:

Instead of businesses moving out of the city, suburban businesses are moving in. The Waterfront Bar and Grille just opened yesterday directly adjacent to the site of the 106 room Marriott hotel set to break ground by the end of the summer. The restaurant (which I visited last night) offers super fresh seafood (the boat literally docks right behind the place) until 11pm and has a sushi bar and bar that are open until 1am (last call in NB is 2am). I have to say the seafood was fantastic and my big concern (the smell of fish on the waterfront), was never really a factor.

Other businesses opening up shop are two upscale men's and womens clothing stores called The Bay (Men) and The Cottage (Women).

From the standard times: Mr. Vieira said he took into account in making his decision the plans to transform Route 18 into a pedestrian-friendly area next year, The Waterfront Grille is opening nearby, and ground will be broken this summer for a new downtown hotel. Mr. Vieira is the owner of The Bay.

He said some of the lines of men's clothing sold are Hart Schaffner Marx, Jack Victor, Joseph Abboud and Tommy Bahama.

The Bay and The Cottage are relocating from Dartmouth, MA to Downtown New Bedford immediately next to the Candleworks restaurant.
Just a small update.

08-18-2008, 09:25 PM
The New Bedford Ocean Explorium is still under construction, but is open on Saturdays from 10-4pm free of charge to exhibit what they do have complete. more information can be found here: http://www.oceanexplorium.org/

The new Waterfront Bar and Grille was fantastic. I had the best scallops I have ever had, and the sushi is great. Best part was, the prices were very reasonable given the diversity of the menu options. All very fresh. If you're Downtown, I would highly recommend stopping in.

The 106 room Fairfield Hotel is slated to break ground on the parcel adjacent to the Waterfront Bar and Grille on Homer's wharf sometime in September. I'll try to get photos of the site soon.

In the meantime, I stumbled across an interesting New Bedford photo blog called New Bedford Every Day. you can find it here: http://newbedfordeveryday.blogspot.com/ . Below is a sampling of the photos from the blog:

http://img28.picoodle.com/data/img28/3/8/18/f_24340814978m_b316f7a.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_24340814978m_b316f7a.jpg&srv=img28)
http://img37.picoodle.com/data/img37/3/8/18/f_24744278445m_a9a9a0d.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_24744278445m_a9a9a0d.jpg&srv=img37)
http://img34.picoodle.com/data/img34/3/8/18/f_2216846960fm_786c082.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_2216846960fm_786c082.jpg&srv=img34)
http://img32.picoodle.com/data/img32/3/8/18/f_2231268703cm_553a5d1.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_2231268703cm_553a5d1.jpg&srv=img32)
http://img34.picoodle.com/data/img34/3/8/18/f_24145279462m_e7aa1c4.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_24145279462m_e7aa1c4.jpg&srv=img34)
http://img26.picoodle.com/data/img26/3/8/18/f_24145286461m_8a49c51.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_24145286461m_8a49c51.jpg&srv=img26)
http://img26.picoodle.com/data/img26/3/8/18/f_21930567069m_1abe18c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_21930567069m_1abe18c.jpg&srv=img26)
http://img26.picoodle.com/data/img26/3/8/18/f_2473609847dm_f33354c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_2473609847dm_f33354c.jpg&srv=img26)
http://img32.picoodle.com/data/img32/3/8/18/f_24736093355m_e2cd8fe.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/18/f_24736093355m_e2cd8fe.jpg&srv=img32)

08-19-2008, 05:56 PM
I guess this must be an attempt by the developer to gain some support and generate excitement in the area, but renderings and a plan were released today for the proposed, "Revere Landing Hotel and Casino" in New Bedford. Since gambling is still very illegal in Massachusetts, one can only assume this is still classified under pipe dream (or nightmare depending on your take on gambling) status.

Developer offers vision for New Bedford casino
http://img28.picoodle.com/data/img28/3/8/19/f_casinom_7c37ba3.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/19/f_casinom_7c37ba3.jpg&srv=img28)

By Steve Decosta
Standard-Times staff writer
August 19, 2008 2:36 PM

The 2?-story, 230,000-square-foot casino would include 4,000 slot machines and 150 table games. It would be flanked by a 600-room hotel tower and a five-level parking garage that would accommodate about 2,750 cars and an employee garage for 700 cars. The $1 billion project eventually would employ more than 4,000 permanent workers, Northeast said.

Northeast also proposes to renovate a nearby old mill as housing.

The design includes a marina, a series of indoor-outdoor cafes and what?s being called a Winter Palace with ice rinks and a pavilion.

Another important element, although not specifically defined in the plans, is what Northeast President Leon Dragone called ?linkage.?

?We?re really sensitive to how we can connect the project to the tourist attractions, the theaters, the restaurants of the historic downtown,? he said.

full story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080819/NEWS/80819008

a better PDF Image of the rendering can be found here: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/_images/pdf/reverelanding.pdf

Ron Newman
08-19-2008, 09:00 PM
Why is this site named after Paul Revere? Does he have some historical connection to New Bedford?

08-19-2008, 09:29 PM
The only thing I can think of that the company he founded, Revere Copper Works, had (and still has) one of its primary manufacturing plants in New Bedford. It seems like a loose connection but New Bedford has played off of it before; one of the "landmarks" when entering NB from the East on 195 is the Paul Revere sign which is illuminated at night and the legs appear to move (though, crudely).

the sign:
http://img34.picoodle.com/data/img34/3/8/19/f_reverem_729c79c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/19/f_reverem_729c79c.jpg&srv=img34)

While I don't particularly like the name, it's better than beating the whaling theme to death even more.

08-22-2008, 07:27 AM
One of the first significant mill renovations in New Bedford is about to open its doors.

Initial Wamsutta Mills apartments nearly ready for occupancy

http://img32.picoodle.com/data/img32/3/8/22/f_wamsuttamilm_6ee970c.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/8/22/f_wamsuttamilm_6ee970c.jpg&srv=img32)

Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
August 22, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The largest, most visible, oldest and most architecturally significant mill restoration in this city of more than 100 mill buildings still standing is almost ready to shine.

more: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080822/NEWS/808220356

09-03-2008, 09:17 AM
Thanks LrFox for all your previous and current posts on New Bedford. It's pretty obvious that your very proud of your city. And even though I'm from RI I spent a lot of my childhood in NB. I have very found memories of County St, Mill & Kempton Sts and of course Lincoln Park. The Buttonwoods Park and the library near it. I can remember my uncle driving me by the Sunbeam factory and the Goodyear plant where he worked. I guess that's long gone by now. Oh, and I can remember the five and dime store somewhere downtown New Bedford where I would be given money to buy cheap comics and Mad magazines. :) Jeez, I just can't remember the name of the store. I was too young. Newberries!??

But it's so nice to see NB making such nice moves in the downtown and waterfront areas. I found it so hard to believe that most of the hotels in the NB area were in the Dartmouth and Fairhaven areas. This is not acceptable in a city of nearly 100,000. I think that even Lowell, MA probably has more hotel rooms than NB. Whatever happened to that Days Inn near the NB airport?

Anyways I hope this Fairfield Inn thing goes through and that the waterfront get's built up. There's certainly nothing wrong with fish or seafood. :) Isn't NB like one of the best seafood ports of the USA?

Too bad the aquarium thingy didn't go through. It would have been a huge plus for NB. But I read all the negative comments from the people, politicians and whoever.

There's one very important point that people in RI and Southeastern MA have to realize. And that is that the people from Boston don't even realize where RI or SE NE is even located. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

09-03-2008, 01:32 PM
^ Thanks for the reply.

I'm glad you see the potential of New Bedford as well. I'd like to note that I'm not actually from New Bedford. In fact, I'm from Assonet (on 24 just north of Fall River).

My feelings about New Bedford are that it is becoming and up and coming place to be. There is a dedicated mayoral staff and progress has been made and is continuing to be made.

Downtown is where it's happening mostly, but progress is being made elsewhere too (see: Wamsutta Mills). In terms of culture and arts, NB can rival any New England city its (Except Cambridge) size. The NB Museum of Art does a great job, and there are plenty of independent galleries and artist colonies that offer up some unique work. The Z plays host to many performers and the Festivals and Feasts are known accross New England and the Nation (in fact, the Portuguese feast of the Blessed Sacrament draws in 300,000 plus people every year).

In terms of food, the Portuguese cuisine is (and has been for quite some time) in a league of its own , but other restaurants and concepts are poping up everywhere. In the past 5 years, Downtown has gone from a place to avoid to a great place to spend an evening out. Tapas at "Cork" are great, as is the wine there, Freestone's and Candleworks have been staples for some time, but are benefitting from increased interest in the area. Cafe Balena brings fine Italian food to the cobblestone streets of Downtown, and the Spicy Lime is great for modern Thai Cuisine. Waterfront Bar and Grille is probably the best addition. Opening this summer, it is home to sushi and seafood that rival anything in Boston or Providence at much more reasonable prices. It's location on Homer's Wharf provides a great view and access to the freshest seafood, as well as being immediatly adjacent to the proposed hotel site (which is slated to break ground in the next two months).

The nightlife is no longer just for the local fisherman either. While the "National Club" is still at home on the corner of Union and 18, the "Catwalk" and "Fins" (and Cork accross the way) play host to the younger, and more affluent crowd. A new nightclub called Visions recently opened on Union and is one of two Downtown dance clubs (along with Bar 908).

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but a host of new stores have located themselves downtown. Off the top of my head I can name, Calico, a Chic women's clothing store opened up a few years ago and just moved into a large space, and two new upscale clothing stores are opening this fall (one men's and one women's). But there are many more.

Don't worry about the Hotel being completed. It's being done by the Lafrance Hospitality group, a Westport family with long standing ties to the area (they own Bittersweet Farms in WPT, Whites of Westport, Rachel's Lakeside, and a few hotels in this area and Maine and NH. the site: http://www.lafrancehospitality.com/). Oh, yes, the Days Inn NB is still alive and .... as well as it can be.

As for the Aquarium, it's not COMPLETELY dead. It's Partially alive in the form of the New Bedford Ocean Explorium ( http://www.oceanexplorium.org/ ). It's nearing the end of construction and the finished exhibits are open on Saturdays free of charge.

New Bedford is on its way up. It's not there yet, but it's gaining momentum. Improvements downtown haven't gone unnoticed and are growing in volume. This fall marks the groundbreaking of the Route 18 improvement project which will include downgrading it from a highway to a tree-lined boulevard complete with bike lanes and pedestrian friendly elements. The commuter rail will be the engine that drives the city even further.

The problem now, is changing people's mind about NB. Most people (as you said) either don't know ANYTHING about it, or know it negatively due to its poor reputation. But that takes time and can't be rushed. Even people who haven't been to providence in 10 years will tell you how crappy Providence is (not that NB is comparable to Prov in any other way). It takes time to reform people's impression of a place, but New Bedford is slowly doing that and slowly becoming a destination again.

Oh, and Yes, New Bedford IS home the Nation's Wealthiest Fishing Port (in terms of value of catch). But that fact alone won't draw anyone in. We'll keeping working for more, and hope the progress keeps going. Thanks again for the response. Feel free to Post anything you have to contribute.

09-07-2008, 07:08 AM
BTW, Is the Main Event in downtown NB still in business?

09-08-2008, 08:04 AM
^I think so. it's on Union St. Right? I think it's there but not 100% sure.

Great news on the hotel front:

Painstaking demolition paves way for hotel

http://img29.picoodle.com/data/img29/3/9/8/f_hotelNBm_e9d1c39.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/9/8/f_hotelNBm_e9d1c39.jpg&srv=img29)
By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
September 08, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Crews working on the demolition of the former Finicky Pet Food building alongside the JFK Memorial Highway have taken down about half of the structure to make way for a new downtown hotel.

Work is going slower than expected, and is slightly behind schedule, in part because of the special care being given not to damage the adjacent, historic, whale-oil building that the hotel developer wants to include as part of the new structure.

Richard Lafrance, head of Westport-based Lafrance Hospitality, which is the designated developer for the hotel project, said recently it is moving along, albeit slightly behind the schedule initially laid out.
(more: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080908/NEWS/809080318 )

I'm not thrilled with the fact that it's taking longer than anticipated, but the best news of all (to me anyway) is hidden in there almost as a negative point.

"Special care being given not to damage the adjacent, historic, whale-oil building that the hotel developer wants to include as part of the new structure."

This is big news becuase as of yet no renderings have been displayed and this could mean that NB won't be cursed with the vanilla Fairfield Inn and Suites design as a "cornerstone" on it's waterfront.

Ron Newman
09-08-2008, 01:54 PM
The Working Waterfront Festival (http://www.workingwaterfrontfestival.org/) on September 27 and 28 is a good excuse for people to visit New Bedford and see what everyone on this thread is talking about.

09-10-2008, 09:12 PM
^Ron, I know you've been to Summerfest a few times, but have to been to the Working Waterfront Festival? I have not and I was wondering if it was any good. I've heard positive reviews, but mostly from people involved who obviously have a bit of a bias.

Ron Newman
09-10-2008, 10:43 PM
I've never been to the Working Waterfront festival, but may go on Sunday this year.

Summerfest used to be partly on the State Pier and partly in the downtown historic district, but it was moved off the pier a few years ago. Maybe this newer festival is an attempt to make up for that.

10-04-2008, 04:42 PM
$3M boosts proposed addition UMass Dartmouth's business school
Standard-Times staff writer
October 04, 2008 6:00 AM

... The proposed learning center, which will be named the Charlton College Learning Pavilion, is a three-story, 22,000-square-foot addition to the college's main building....

more: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081004/NEWS/810040338

A rendering: http://img01.picoodle.com/img/img01/3/10/4/f_UmassDrendem_93147b8.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/10/4/f_UmassDrendem_93147b8.jpg&srv=img01)

10-04-2008, 04:55 PM
Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn that's nice.

10-05-2008, 10:42 AM
^Really? I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, I'd like to see a better rendering. I do like the outdoor deck on the second level and the way the glass is done on the second and third floors. I'd like to see something that will give a better idea of what exactly the materials will be and I don't like that much of the first floor is blank wall space (though that's probably as a result of the auditorium space on the first floor).

I'm assuming this will be pre-cast concrete to try to blend in with the rest of the entirely Paul Rudolph designed campus. I'd be a bit more positive if this were a stand alone building and not an addition; I think the chances of screwing up are much higher that way.

In any case, the new Wamsutta Mill renovation has an official site (Lofts at Wamsutta) http://www.loftsatwamsuttaplace.com/amenities.html . There are some nice photos of the interior and exterior as well as a description. I haven't seen the interior in person (however, I do plan to), but I have seen the exterior and I must say that it looks fantastic. The restoration of the wrought iron railings, cleansing of the bricks, this really looks good. This is also right next to some of the best seafood stores in the country, and is about 1 mile from downtown; but the success of this building relies on the revitalization of the neighborhood around it and vice versa.

The same developer is in the process of converting the old Cliftex Mill but has hit a snag in permitting. I'm hopeful that he obtains what is needed because projects like theser are truly great for the city of New Bedford.

on another note (and i'll post this in the web pages thread as well) Peter Pereira is an excellent New Bedford Photojournalist and it's worth checking out his site: http://peterpereira.com/index.html

*edit** Ron, did you make it to the working waterfront festival? If so, what did you think? I didn't go, the weather was absolutely miserable that weekend.

10-14-2008, 11:12 AM
Some news on purchases and redevelopment out of nearby Fall River. Note the fantastic headline (/sarcasm); Boston doesn't have the only crappy "Herald":

WHAT WAS AND WILL BE AGAIN: Local developer has big plans for Eagle, Globe buildings

By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter

Fall River ?

A city developer of distressed properties, who has helped forge the arts overlay district encompassing the city?s waterfront and downtown areas, has purchased a trio of landmark buildings on North Main and Purchase streets for $1.7 million.
Developer Jerry Donovan and his partner Glenn Boyer struck a deal last week for the three structures, including the famous Eagle Restaurant building. As part of the deal, former owner Martin Wood and his company agreed to pay 2? years of back taxes on the properties.

More: http://www.heraldnews.com/business/x811432556/WHAT-WAS-AND-WILL-BE-AGAIN-Local-developer-has-big-plans-for-Eagle-Globe-buildings

Pictures of said buildings from the Fall River Herald:

Eagle Building exterior:
http://img29.picoodle.com/img/img29/3/10/14/f_Eaglem_fb9d185.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/10/14/f_Eaglem_fb9d185.jpg&srv=img29)

The Eagle's interior:
http://img34.picoodle.com/img/img34/3/10/14/f_EagleInterim_3382330.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/10/14/f_EagleInterim_3382330.jpg&srv=img34)

Detail of the Globe Building's facade:
http://img28.picoodle.com/img/img28/3/10/14/f_globem_cf577c4.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/10/14/f_globem_cf577c4.jpg&srv=img28)

11-13-2008, 10:16 AM
A new owner has been picked for the renovation and conversion from rentals to condos of the 15 story Regency tower in Downtown New Bedford:
http://img03.picoodle.com/img/img03/3/11/13/f_Harbor007m_5672156.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/11/13/f_Harbor007m_5672156.jpg&srv=img03)
(Regency is the tallest brick building just to the left of the bridge)

New owner picked for Regency conversion

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
November 13, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? A new owner of the Regency Tower was chosen Wednesday with a pledge to overhaul the 15-story landmark and convert it from apartments into condominiums that will support downtown revitalization.

The condominiums will be offered at market-rate prices, with 25 percent of the units set aside as affordable housing.

City officials praised the move and said the Regency ? which has been problem-plagued and was taken from its owner in foreclosure ? could be transformed and provide another step forward for the city's downtown, along with supporting the "creative economy."

The winning proposal was from Trinity Financial, a Boston-based firm that officials indicated has a much better-than-average reputation among developers. The firm bills itself on its Web site (TrinityFinancial.com) as "urban developers" and says it is "energized by the broader issues of revitalizing neighborhoods, strengthening commerce and fostering opportunity." It has been in business since 1987.

MORE: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081113/NEWS/811130347/1011/TOWN10

Good news, but does anyone know anything about Trinity? what have they done... specifically in Boston? Anything notable?

11-13-2008, 12:29 PM
Avenir, the Shaws in Mattapan, some Hope VI grant stuff including Maverick Landing and Orchard Gardens, previously two of the worst public housing projects in Boston. I hope they're ready to lose their shirts on this one though.

11-13-2008, 02:40 PM
I think they'll do fine. At least this is renovation work and not brand new construction because I'd hate to see anything like Avenir or some of their public housing.

If the market has turned around by the time this is completed, they'll do great; if it hasn't it'll fail miserably (though no worse than it is now). The view is something else, and the location is about as good as it gets in New Bedford. The 25% low income will fill up (realistically in order to sell, there had to be at least 25% low income) and the market rate condos will surely be better than many of the other market rate options in New Bedford. The new Wamsutta Mills is doing well, and Regency has a better location... again, as long as the market turns around by completion, this will be successful.

I don't know what the zoning restrictions are, but it would be nice to see a lounge or restaurant on the roof to take advantage of the view and the ground floor be brought out to the street to add some retail space (downtown grocery store would be a good idea here). It wouldn't hurt to make a few of the floors hotel space. There isn't a hotel Downtown yet and who knows what will happen with the planned hotel (scheduled to break ground this winter) given the lending crisis. It won't ever happen, but it would be nice.

11-14-2008, 06:18 AM
When the Regency was built, wasnt the top floor function space before it was turned into office space? Also, I remember a restaurant on the ground floor.

11-14-2008, 05:21 PM
^REally? That's good to know. I wonder why there hasn't been any interest in doing that again? Maybe there has been and it hasn't been publicized.

11-17-2008, 09:54 AM
Well I think the function space has been divided into office space. There are a few tenants on the top floor I think.

11-17-2008, 11:01 AM
^Cool. i didn't know that. I'm sure offices bring in more money than function space, so I doubt that'll change.

11-17-2008, 12:55 PM
When I was a kid I called and asked for a brochure from the Regency, I think I still have it somewhere. It is from the late 80's/early 90's I believe. It has all the apartment layouts/details etc... Ill have to look for it!

11-17-2008, 02:03 PM
That's really cool. if you could find that and scan it, that would be sweet. I'd love to see what it initially entailed. I'd also like to see what trinity's plans entail in depth as well.

11-18-2008, 01:29 PM
Ill see if I can find it!

12-04-2008, 11:30 AM
If you're interested in seeing what's going on in New Bedford, this Saturday is a good time.
Saturday the 6th is the Downtown Holiday Stroll event from noon- 9PM ( http://www.downtownnb.org/holiday%20stroll%20program.pdf .. it's a .pdf file) to showcase local shops, restaurants, museums, and art galleries.

If you don't want to spend too much money on shopping, the New Bedford Art Museum, Whaling Museum and the new Ocean Explorium are offering free admission all day and are worth the visit alone. Other attractions include open houses at many of the downtown art galleries, a Santa Parade, live music at different venues in the city, etc (all this info is on the pdf file linked above). There is free trolley service all throughout downtown on Saturday, but it's perfectly walkable.

It would be a good time to see how much the city has done in even the past 6 months. If you can't make it, I'll be posting pictures.

12-08-2008, 10:31 AM
New Bedford has reached an agreement with the developer on a financing package for the proposed Mariott Hotel on the Waterfront. Groundbreaking will start early '09.

The New York Times is even reporting on the significance of this agreement:

Old New England Whaling Center Will Soon Offer Visitors a Place to Stay

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: November 25, 2008

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. ? Convinced that this storied seaport of cobblestone streets has ended years of economic devastation and crime, a local developer plans to build a Marriott hotel on New Bedford?s waterfront ? the first downtown hotel here in decades.

Full Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/business/26hotel.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1228753188-HPoBksyIn4VQwu8KGw3jng

New Bedford's hotel and progress was noted and "envied" by Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk and its significance was mentioned recently in the Worcester Telegram.

Gloucester Story:
Kirk 'envious' of New Bedford Marriott deal Other city's challenges were different, Gloucester mayor says
By Richard Gaines
Staff Writer

Mayor Carolyn Kirk says she's "envious" of her counterpart, New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang.

Lang landed a Marriott hotel on the New Bedford waterfront through an agreement announced last week.

The developer, the Lafrance Hospitality Co. of Westport, has announced a five-story, $10 million, 106-room Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites on a 1.6 acre parcel across the street from the fishing piers.

full story: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/punews/local_story_335211227.html

and the Worcester Story:
Whale of a city

Hotel a sign of ongoing renaissance in New Bedford

Add a comment

The recent announcement of plans to build a $10 million, 106-room hotel on the New Bedford waterfront is more welcome news for that traditional seaport city, which in recent years has pulled itself out of the economic doldrums and shed its 1980s reputation as a place of crime and hopelessness.

full article: http://www.telegram.com/article/20081205/NEWS/812050334/1020

Also, I uploaded some pics of New Bedford from this past weekend in the "Driving Around New England" thread.

12-08-2008, 06:10 PM
That's a lot of hype for a place one step above a truck stop Best Western.

12-08-2008, 06:25 PM
^BARELY a step above a truck stop Best Western. Each of those articles dresses it up even more by saying, making sure they emphasize the name "Mariott," before they mention it's a Fairfield Inn and Suites (by Mariott) which is clearly a lower brand. It's better than what's there however (nothing) and given the fact that it's not a major destination, I wouldn't expect anything better for the time being.

12-11-2008, 05:58 AM

12-11-2008, 01:44 PM
Marriott hotel planned for downtown New Bedford

01:00 AM EST on Thursday, December 11, 2008


The New York Times

NEW BEDFORD ? Convinced that this storied seaport of cobblestone streets has ended years of economic devastation and crime, a local developer plans to build a Marriott hotel on the city?s waterfront, the first new downtown hotel in decades.

The LaFrance Hospitality Co., a Westport family business that owns eight hotels in New England, a restaurant and catering business, is planning a $10-million 106-room Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites on a 1.6-acre parcel across the street from New Bedford?s fishing piers. Site preparation is under way, with a groundbreaking planned for early next year.

The five-story hotel will incorporate a historic granite structure, which used to be a whale-oil refinery, a reminder of the days when New Bedford was the whaling capital of the world. Its facade will combine brick, granite and wood. The site is just outside the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, 13 city blocks of 18th- and 19th-century buildings where the likes of Herman Melville and Frederick Douglass once strolled.

?This is very important to the city,? New Bedford?s mayor, Scott W. Lang, said of the hotel.

New Bedford has made strides in renewing itself in recent years. But without a hotel downtown, the city remained a ?pass-through? for people catching a ferry to Martha?s Vineyard or driving on to Cape Cod, Lang said.

Now, New Bedford can be a destination in itself, opening opportunities for other tourism ventures and other industries, he said. ?You need a hotel where your assets are,? Lang said.

For New Bedford, which still has a fishing fleet of more than 225 vessels, bringing in the largest catch, in dollar value, of any port in the United States, its assets are the waterfront and its historic downtown, the mayor said.

Yet persuading a developer to build a hotel downtown has not been easy. In the last five years or so, there have been at least three attempts to do so.

The city?s only downtown hotel closed in 1958. Since then, the closest place of any repute for visitors to stay has been a Days Inn on the outskirts of the city, four miles from downtown. After a while, not having a hotel downtown became embarrassing, said Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the city?s Economic Development Council.

Then, LaFrance Hospitality, whose offices are only 12 miles away, stepped into the picture. Its executives said they could see enough positive changes starting to take place in New Bedford to justify the company?s taking a risk on developing a hotel there.

Since 2000, 32 buildings in the downtown have been restored, at a cost of more than $80 million, and 14 other buildings are in a ?preconstruction? stage, the city says. Most of these are historic structures that are being renovated into commercial or mixed-use space, often with the help of state and federal historic tax credits.

In addition, several developments are under way elsewhere in New Bedford, including a $35-million mill conversion into condominiums, and there are plans to build the $2-million Waterfront Community Center on the Acushnet River, which will be a recreation facility and event center.

?New Bedford is on the rebound,? said Richard LaFrance, the hotel company?s president.

The company was also swayed by a marketing study commissioned by the city, which showed there was enough visitor demand to support a hotel, Morrissey said. The Martha?s Vineyard ferry is within walking distance to the site of the new hotel. Begun five years ago, the service has had a steady rise in passengers, with a 26-percent jump in the last year, he said.

LaFrance bought the site of the hotel last year for $1.2 million. The city has been working with the company to put together a financing package that will probably include tax incentives.

Morrissey and LaFrance said they were not worried about getting financing, despite the nation?s economic crisis. ?It?s going forward,? LaFrance said. The hotel is slated to open in the spring of 2010.

New Bedford is a long and narrow city, with an area about the same as Manhattan?s and a population that hovers around 100,000. In its early years, it was a vibrant, even wealthy, place, as whaling ships returned with blubber, spermaceti and other byproducts needed to make whale oil. At its peak, in 1857, New Bedford had 329 whaling vessels.

The city was also a stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping northward from the South.

Once electricity replaced whale oil as the source of light, manufacturing became the city?s economic engine, predominantly textile manufacturing.

This lasted until the 1980s, when, as in other New England cities, the factories either shut down or moved away. ?In the 1980s, essentially everything bottomed out,? Morrissey said.

That?s when New Bedford started to become known mainly for blight and despair. The notorious 1983 rape at Big Dan?s tavern made national news.

Gang violence became such a problem that John Lewis, the Georgia Democratic congressman and civil rights leader, visited New Bedford two years ago to lead a peace march in the city after the mother of a suspected gang member was found murdered in her home.

When Lang was sworn in as mayor, in 2006, he inherited these problems. A former prosecutor, he tackled them with a ?full-court press,? he said.

New Bedford has embraced a belief that the arts can be used to rebuild its fortunes. Last year, it authorized hiring a creative economy-development officer to coordinate arts programming, financing and development.

The city?s landmark Zeiterion Theater draws an average of 4,500 people downtown on weekends.

According to Morrissey, the city feels that in LaFrance Hospitality it has a developer that not only appreciates New Bedford?s past, but also its future.

?We have a lot at stake in the area,? LaFrance said. ?It?s our hometown. We want it to work.?

\/ Link \/

12-11-2008, 04:43 PM
^Interesting article, though I'm curious as to how this was news for the New York Times. Lafrance also didn't instill a lot of confidence in me as to where hotel funding is coming from.

I would really like to know which "14 buildings" are slated for redevelopment. It's also worth mentioning that one condo project is done, Wamsutta Mills ( http://www.loftsatwamsuttaplace.com/ ) and the other is under way.

12-21-2008, 06:04 AM
I just watched the mayor of New Bedford Scott Lang on ch 10's News Conference where he talked about issues and projects in NB. He mentioned the Regency Towers. What is this projects?

12-21-2008, 11:15 AM
The Regency project is the conversion of the existing tower (corner of rt. 6 and pleasant street) from rentals to market rate (mostly-- some affordable included) condos. The project is being done by Trinity Financial of Boston (they're building Avenir near N. Station). It'll include updating the exterior and interior as well as some structural upgrades to the building.

12-21-2008, 11:50 AM
Just found this, not a rendering, but a model of the Waterfront Hotel:

http://img26.picoodle.com/img/img26/3/12/21/f_bildem_7b5141d.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/12/21/f_bildem_7b5141d.jpg&srv=img26)

REAL tacky architecture in my opinion. I hope the full color rendering looks better, but this is unimpressive. Better than nothing, but I'm very underwhelmed. I'd like to direct everyone's attention to the beautiful surface parking lot in front of the hotel entrance.

The pic is from a S/T article about how city council approved tax breaks for Konerka Energy (a high tech firm relocating to the city) and the hotel. the full story is available here: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081221/NEWS/812210365/1011/TOWN10

02-22-2009, 11:40 AM
I haven't updated this thread in over 2 months. Not because nothing is happening, but mostly because the news is without flash and likely wouldn't be interesting to anyone who doesn't have a real familiarity with the city.

So this is just a minor update on things that are going on/ have been going on.

Commuter rail has been in the recent news as part of Patrick's proposed gas hike is said to be intended to fund the project. Also, new ridership studies have shown increased estimates and paid particular attention to electrified rail.

Downtown is still progressing in its redevelopment even during these rough times. A few new restaurants have opened their doors in this new year including Destination Soups ( http://www.destinationsoups.com/ ) and a few others. Travessia Urban Winery ( http://www.travessiawine.com/ )has opened its doors and seen excellent success in the first few weeks of operation. They are expected to expand (their store and their line) by the end of spring.

The new Ocean Explorium ( http://www.oceanexplorium.org/) which has been partially open while under construction will be open in full capacity (charging admission) on March 1.

The proposed hotel has secured funding and is scheduled to start construction this spring. Quite frankly, I'm amazed this is still moving forward at all.

There are some interesting new shows scheduled at the Zeiterion Theatre, including Blue Oyster Cult, which would be worth checking out ( http://www.zeiterion.org/) and if you ever want to see New Bedford, heading into town during an A.H.A. (Art History Architecture) night would be the time to do it. Schedule of events: http://www.ahanewbedford.org/

I'll come back when I have some flashier material to post, but for now, that's the news.

02-22-2009, 04:00 PM
I haven't been to New Bedford yet, but would love to go. Sounds like it is doing well.

03-04-2009, 11:11 AM
The Fairhaven Mills Site has been completely sold, and is now about to go to meeting where city council scan decide whether or not the mill should be leveled to make way for a developer's proposal for the site which will be a mixed-used development along the riverfront.

here's an image of a rendering:
http://img19.picoodle.com/img/img19/3/3/4/jfoahs04/f_whalerslandm_5dfb3cc.png (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/3/4/jfoahs04/f_whalerslandm_5dfb3cc.png&srv=img19)

This site is just North of I-195. about 2 Miles North of Downtown.

a link to one of the stories on the mill site, there's a new one every day:

03-09-2009, 03:53 PM
Looks like Riverside Landing (Fairhaven Mills site) has had some redesigning. from the small rendering of one of the buildings on site this looks like a more auto-centric plan. It also seems that the plan calls for this to be oriented more towards the I-195 offramp and not as much the neighborhood. Not sure I like it, but I'll reserve judgment until I see a rendering of the complete project and not one small buildings.

Also, the mill is going to be demolished entirely, not utilized in the new construction. This isn't a big deal as the mill isn't that important and many of the nicer mills are slated to be/ already have been redeveloped (Wamsutta was an excellent project). As long as this maintains some urban integrity, I don't mind seeing this mill go.

Fairhaven Mills project coming into focus

http://img18.picoodle.com/img/img18/3/3/9/jfoahs04/f_millprojectm_78486a7.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/3/9/jfoahs04/f_millprojectm_78486a7.jpg&srv=img18)

March 09, 2009 6:00 AM
complex vision

The preliminary plan for Riverside Landing includes:

* Anchor retail store of 95,000 square feet.
* Bank of 2,000 square feet.
* Office space of 19,800 square feet.
* Retail space of 31,800 square feet.

NEW BEDFORD ? If all pieces fall in place on an optimistic schedule of developers and public officials, by summer 2010 shoppers will be filling carts in a new Riverside Landing retail and mixed-use center where Fairhaven Mills used to stand.

Not long after, people will eat in restaurants and work in offices there, and motorists will wheel off and on new Interstate 195 ramps crossing an extensively upgraded Coggeshall Street with traffic lights and turning lanes.

But even before shoppers arrive, rowers and other small boaters may take to the Acushnet River from a future boathouse site at the end of Sawyer Street. Use of the river above Coggeshall Street by rowers and other boaters is expected to begin this summer.

more: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090309/NEWS/903090337

03-14-2009, 11:38 AM

The New Bedford Half Marathon (link: http://newbedfordhalfmarathon.com/ ) is tomorrow from 11-4pm.

The reason I mention this is because there is an event being hosted called, " The Restaurant Run." The event is intended to shed some light on the Downtown area's restaurant/ bar scene. Many places are offering discounts on food, drinks, etc. as well as free samples. It's an excellent time to check out what's going on in NB if you have some free time. Info on the event: http://downtownnb.org/restaurantrun.htm . The galleries, shops and museums are participating as well and some are offering free booze.

This is a great chance to see some of the newest additions to downtown (or all of them if you've never been).

Some BRAND NEW (within the past 3-4 months) venues downtown include:

Travessia Urban Winery (great, locally produced wines): http://www.travessiawine.com/
http://img15.picoodle.com/img/img15/3/3/14/jfoahs04/f_travessiam_f39e3c9.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/3/14/jfoahs04/f_travessiam_f39e3c9.jpg&srv=img15)

Hibernia Irish Pub (excellent selection including Guinness, Guinness Extra Cold, and their own Hibernia Ale): http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=385001492

and two of the newest mibro-brew/ craft beer houses (just open in the past two weeks):

Rose Alley Ale House (An EXCELLENT selection of craft beers, micro brews, and a few old time favorites): Site under construction, but info on their selection on their myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/rosealleyalehouse

The Pour Farm Tavern: Another craft beer/ Micro brew specialty place check their myspace (site under construction): http://www.myspace.com/thepourfarmtavern
http://img02.picoodle.com/img/img02/3/3/14/jfoahs04/f_PourFarmm_841f25d.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/view.php?img=/3/3/14/jfoahs04/f_PourFarmm_841f25d.jpg&srv=img02)

There are a bunch of others, but these are the newest. It's worth giving a look if you have the time.

These places really remind me of venues like Gritty's, Bulfeeney's and Novare Res in Portland Maine. It's eerie.

03-14-2009, 02:54 PM
Great to see all the neat things that are happening in New Bedford. I'll have to get over there soon.

As for the Fairhaven Mill, I see what you are saying, Lrfox. Not all mills are architecturally significant. Still, I hate to see them go. Even the plainer ones, those without elaborate towers and such, help to establish an urban fabric and are so distinctively New England in their look. They are also so well built compared to what they will be replaced with. Dryvit over plywood is no match for load-bearing brick walls IMO. Plus mills can be turned into just about anything--housing, retail, studios, office, even if they are obsolete for most industrial purposes. Hopefully NB will keep most of them.

03-15-2009, 08:57 PM
I agree about the mills. New Bedford has preserved and converted a bunch and is doing some more. Unfortunately, the Fairhaven Mill seemed to be in disrepair. It was an unfortunate choice between letting it stand as is and crumble (as no developer would pay to rehabilitate the building) or destroy it and rebuild. I'm sure what we get won't be as it should be, but I think in this particular situation, there weren't many options. It is unfortunate... some sort of preservation should have happened decades ago. It's going to be a bittersweet project here.

04-13-2009, 10:29 PM
Fairhaven Mill is not in major disrepair. There were businesses in it on all floors over the past 5 years (various floors at various years). The strip mall that is proposed for this site is a 1980s-era typical mall. It has no tenants lined up. And likely will have few---because New Bedford is shunned by many stores for its low-budget demographic. And it is surrounded by malls. Renovating the Fairhaven Mill (there have been parties interested in buying single floors) and incorporating it in an dense mixed-use medical, retail (supermarket), residential, and service mix would be good for that site.
It is erroneous to say no developer is interested in it. There has never been a "for sale" sign on the mill. People have been interested in renovating it.
As noted in the newspaper recently, it is thought that the developer wants to knock it down so he can sell that part of the site. Others think he just wants to raze the whole site and sell it. And still others suspect he's awaiting the never-to-come casino. A casino in New Bedford would be a disaster.
That article posted above is by a reporter who was fired for kissing up to the mayor's office too much.
About an earlier post: There are places to stay in New Bedford, not that it has more than a day of stuff to do. There's even a bankrupted hotel just across the river. There are several B&Bs.
New Bedford definitely has some cool assets, but its leadership wants to keep it a grant-dependent ward of the state.

04-13-2009, 11:56 PM
ecowaters, welcome to the site and thanks for the post.

maybe, "major disrepair" is a bit of an overstatement, but it needs MAJOR work and it's probably not worth it to save this particular mill. Of course this opinion is subjective, but I don't see this as something that needs to be saved. It COULD be saved (thus proving that "disrepair" is not the right term), but in the eyes of a developer, it's not worth it financially. The Whaler Place rendering (image posted a few pages back) which is now dead, would have been an ideal URBAN replacement that linked the existing neighborhood (which is in dire need of attention) to the waterfront and the development. The problem is that New Bedford is not a sure thing by any stretch for a developer for a number of reasons and it doesn't make sense to risk such a hefty investment into this type of project.

A building with a bit more architectural merit like the masterfully restored Wamsutta Mill makes a bit more sense to restore, but not Fairhaven.

I am usually all for preservation of existing architecture and I am well aware that Fairhaven Mills had tenants (notably, the Antiques place), but I think this building needs to go in favor of new development. While I certainly don't think that the current proposal is the way to go (too much parking lot), it's no 80's style mall. It's a mixed use development (office, bank, retail). That being said, it doesn't integrate with the neighborhood well and resembles a suburban office park. It seems like a bit of a waste of the property (though not as bad as the home depot proposal). Like you said, the developer will likely sell the site to someone else when it benefits him... I don't think this is a bad thing. It's certainly better than having a sparsely used mill that's more or less architecturally insignificant (these mills are not like the like the buildings dotting the Whaling District) sit on some of the city's most valuable land while people quibble about whether or not to save it. This spot is HIGHLY visible. New Bedford may be a low socio-economic city, but that stretch of 195 is the link from every point south to Cape Cod and primary road for all of the middle income and moderately well off communities in the area (Marion, Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, etc). A mixed use development (mid and upscale retail, office AND a residential component) could do exceedingly well in this spot as it would be a destination for passerby tourists AND locals alike. It just needs to be a bit better thought out than the current proposal which is crap.

Like you said, this site has garnered interest for the better part of the last decade. With an actual listing and some infrastructure improvements as well as the demolition of the mill building itself, this site will arguably be the most sought after in the city. Dickenson (the current developer) can make a profit and the city can get something that works well for the neighborhood and the city as a whole. I see no problem with demolishing the mill and selling it. It's not a big loss.

I still think the mill needs to go. The state (as of today's news) is about to invest $2.5 million to build new ramps to/from 195 and a new road to connect the ramps and Coggeshall St to Sawyer and the mill (quite literally) stands in the way of that. Given what improved infrastructure can do for that area, the mill needs to come down. With new roads and ramps and a highly visible open spot, a spot that has been in demand will only be more so. The location has been attractive for years, but developers have been turned off by the high cost to develop the mill and fix the roads and ramps as well as opposition to demolition and an administration that wasn't business friendly. If those issues are taken care of, the value of this waterfront site will rise even higher.

On another note, the number of "places to stay" is REALLY limited in New Bedford. It needs a real name-brand hotel in the center of the city if it EVER hopes to establish itself as even a moderately reputable destination. Bed and Breakfasts are fun and all, but nothing creates life and activity on a street like a well-placed couple hundred room hotel. Furthermore, people looking for accommodations on orbitz or other similar sites don't come across the quaint B&Bs, they come across the Hampton and Days Inns in relatively inconvenient and unattractive locations outside the city center. The proposed hotel is adjacent to the ferry terminals as well as the waterfront and downtown which makes it ideal for those who are just heading to the islands as well as those who are staying in town for a night or two. Commuter rail to downtown will be icing on the cake. When people can get from Boston to the Martha's Vinyard Ferry without a vehicle, you better bet that New Bedford will benefit from some of that traffic. The hope is that some of those "passers by" will eventually turn into people staying a night or two (the idea of a "regional" stay rather than just a "city stay" is what I discuss below).

New Bedford has more than a days worth of activities to do. Like many similarly sized cities that are popular tourist destinations, it may not have enough (because of size) to keep one occupied for a week within the city limits, but it's got plenty for a weekend (especially the weekend of a festival or concert or other special event). Having lived in Portland, ME I see New Bedford having a similar interaction with tourists (already to an extent, more so with improvement). They can enjoy the shops, galleries, bars and restaurants (New Bedfords dining and nightlife scene keeps getting better) along the cobbled streets for a day or so, maybe visit a museum or two (three or four even? New Bedford has enough museums), tour a historic home, etc. THAT, in small cities like this, is one or two day's activity (while in Boston it could easily be a week). However, that's where the REGION helps. Portland has Peak's Island and beaches in the area that occupy other days. There are even small water parks and other day trips available. New Bedford already has a similar set up. Cuttyhunk and Martha's Vinyard offer day trips by ferry for people staying in New Bedford (as does Nantucket by a cheap Cape Air flight) and the multitude of Beaches in the area are a draw as well (just like Portland's). Then you have the forts (Tabor, Phoenix, etc), The BP Zoo, Plymouth, Battleship Cove/ Fall River, Providence, and other things that are within a quick drive from NB. Like Portland, it has enough self contained activities to keep one occupied for a day or two, but also like Portland, it's a good jumping off point for the rest of the region. New Bedford will act as a solid home base for people visiting the region. Enough to entertain for a while, but an excellent place to center a trip to the region.

I also agree that the leadership has been a problem. I think Mayor Lang has made some good progress, but the city council and other entities have really hindered progress (i.e. the Victoria Mills debacle). They are making progress and people like Matthew Morrisey, Mayor Lang, and a number of others have really worked hard to make progress (and it does show quite a bit). Downtown is by far the biggest success. It's become known quickly as a destination that people want to go to and businesses want to locate. This is in part due to expedited permitting and many tax incentives, but also due to the focus on this area by NBEDC and 501_3cs like Downtown New Bedford Inc and A.H.A. New Bedford.

New Bedford is a work in progress with a long way to go. However, it's made strides in recent years. We'll see how this all turns out. There's no way a strip mall is going it an Fairhaven Mills, though... not at all.

05-07-2009, 05:29 PM
Channel 5 featured New Bedford on Chronicle in a segment called, "The New New Bedford"

Watch it here: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/chronicle/19332669/detail.html

05-24-2009, 07:48 AM
Thank you so much LrFox for that posting. New Bedford is like my second home, after Providence. I practiculy lived half-year round in New Bedford and Lincoln Park. LOL. Nice to see NB rebounding after soo many terrible years of decline. I just may book a room in the new Fairfield Hotel to check things out when they open. Ha

06-16-2009, 03:16 PM

I live in downtown New Bedford and have a business here. I've worked for urban planning firms.

I love NB dearly but did have to laugh at your description of it. My place is right on the 1/4 mile of cobblestones. Even my visitors don't find enough to do for more than 2 hours here unless I take them to the zoo. Also, the tourism office here refuses to market New Bedford with its region. So people would rather stay somewhere that does not have a reputation for shootings (although in my time here, I've only seen one robbery).

It's important to not buy what you read in the newspaper, especially press releases from the mayor's office. Unless you live here, you don't see the complex politics of what happens here. Local leadership has done very little to enhance the visitor experience, yet they expect to get millions and millions in state and federal aid.

Fairhaven Mill: This building and the surrounding site has never been marketed. (I used to do that for a living.) The most recent owner (before the current developer) had a medical interest lined up, as well as two great stores in there in addition to the antiques market (which was always busier than the Whaling Museum). Then the Home Depot developer waved $4 million at him and all market activity stopped.

Fairhaven Mill is not in disrepair. The back end is partly demolished, but that is easily picked off. This is an interesting building with great scale and massing that can be seen from way down Rt 195. You won't be able to say that about the McMall that will be built there. And really what is proposed for that site is a 1980s-style strip mall. Even its supporters concede that. (Take a look at what Dover, NH negotiated with the same developer for a similar site, and you see what stubborn parochialism reigns here. They REFUSE to do research.) There is no mixed-use building truly sketched out for that project. There are no tenants lined up except a grocery store, tentatively. The grocery store could have gone in there with the mill still standing.
That whole site could easily have been largely medical services (lots of interest) with a grocery store and complementary businesses.
Wamsutta Mills on the other hand, is a nice rehab project for the city, but very small uninteresting spaces start at $1800....we laughed when we toured it. There is no connection to the downtown and its street life. Lowell's rehab'd mills are a much better deal, I hate to say.

Hotel: Again, I live here and host guests. I also know have to put up people at hotels every month. And I have lived in true tourist towns such as Concord. A hotel in New Bedford is not going to change anything--especially the one proposed (Fairfield Inn--can you say "highway pit stop"?) with no restaurant, banquet or function rooms for weddings and other occasions. It is going to ruin the waterfront's potential. We already have 4 B&Bs, a major hotel in town and two hotels just over the bridge within site of our tourist draws. A failed hotel is just across the street from this site.
Very little is done to improve the tourism experience here in obvious ways. People come here for the museum then don't know where else to go. Few restaurants are open nearby (really just one). Tourists don't know about the Underground Railroad Tour because it's only occasionally offered. They don't know about the Fire Museum (often not open) or the Buttonwood Park Zoo or Fort Taber and nearby beaches, nor are there signs to these places from downtown. Most of the new establishments in town are bars, which is now causing some resident ire (myself, I don't mind). Cork and the Waterfront Grille are the only exceptions.
I lived in Concord, Mass. which has a robust tourism scene, yet could not support more than two small inns. And that's all we need in NB: a small inn for visitors. Note the B&Bs, which are advertised, are often vacant. So what we really need is a setting for weddings and wedding receptions, parties, etc.

Alas, NB is not like Portland. Portland is the gateway city to Maine. NB is not a gateway city.

New Bedford is a brilliant city. Where else can you see the true working waterfront and watch a variety of fishing boats, yachts, and tugs up close? And a 19th century swing bridge. The real question is why Gloucester is still such a draw compared to New Bedford. NB could trump Gloucester, but its leadership (and I don't mean city council) has to stop hindering the real thing. The people who've made a difference here are the small business owners and young people.

06-16-2009, 05:39 PM
ecowaters, good post and you make some very valid points.

You're right that I've never lived in New Bedford. I guess that I'd have to to experience the real politics of it on a daily basis. However, An immediate family member of mine works directly with the mayor and the rest of the usual suspects so I've spent a good deal of face time with Mr. Lang, Mr. Morrissey and some of the other characters. I'm willing to bet this is why my view may be a bit rosier than the average resident's (because I hear the B.S. first hand yet don't live the failures daily). I grew up and spent the bulk of my life in Freetown (I've lived in Providence, Washington D.C. and Portland Maine and now reside in Boston as of about 2 months ago) and have family that still resides there. That being said, I'm not sure I agree 100% with all that you say.

I'll start with downtown. I am with you 100% on the lack of promotion on a local level. This is a huge mistake. Many people in the area don't know what type of asset they have in New Bedford and disregard it. In any real tourist destination, this isn't the case. In that regard, New Bedford has work to do. It should capitalize on it's region (the beaches, vineyards, forest, rivers, lakes, etc) and make itself appear to be the focal point of the Southcoast (which it really is with all due respect to Fall River). It's failed, so far, to accomplish that. I've met (educated) people in other parts of Mass who haven't even heard of New Bedford with the exception of the occasional shooting or other negative press.

I disagree, however, with the notion that there's nothing to do for more than 2 hours downtown. I think you'd have to be VERY selective to not find anything to do in Downtown New Bedford for a day or two. The Whaling Museum, Art Museum, and Ocean Explorium (which opens in full capacity within a month and has been VERY highly regarded so far) provide great anchor attractions. You can kill a few hours enjoying each. There are a significant number of art galleries downtown too. New Bedford could use some more varied shops, but there are some decent clothing boutiques, consignment shops, gift shops, etc that offer browsing options. You have plenty of restaurants (the more the merrier, though) downtown and now, a pretty good number of decent bars (I'd still love to see the National Club converted into something nicer). This doesn't include walking around and taking in the architecture of Downtown and the surrounds as well as checking out the fishing fleet as well as the Ernestina. There are also harbor tours available. I find it no less attractive and entertaining than most small city downtown areas in New England and FAR more appealing than many.

On the side-topic of bars being a popular new business in New Bedford, I'm glad you don't mind. Quite frankly, if it's the right type of place (which I think places like Pour Farm, Rose Alley, and Hibernia are), it can be an EXCELLENT addition to the city. The new places in New Bedford draw the right crowds and they bring people downtown after work hours which is a good thing. I'd like to see the National Club be replaced though.

One disappointment I have is (as you mentioned) signage and direction for visitors. I think one reason visitors may have trouble finding places to go is because they're poorly marked. If you travel to a Portland, ME or a Portsmouth NH, there are very visible signs EVERYWHERE telling you where to go and what's where. New Bedford has very few of these (in fact, I can only think of the one on the corner of 18 and elm near Candleworks). Because of that, I can see why people would be unsure of what to do with themselves. To take this point even further, businesses could do a better job with signage. There has been improvement in the past few years, but it still has a ways to go. Some nice carved wooden hanging signs or banners can really do a great job at drawing people in. Elaine with her Black Whale has always done this well, and places like Cork, Rose Alley, Travessia and Art Works! are also impressive with this. It's too hard to find many other businesses and as a result, many are avoided as people don't know they exist (Destination Soups and Brick are two that stand out in my mind as not having good signage).

Now, we're on different pages with the waterfront hotel. I see your point about there being B&Bs as well as other nearby hotels. There's no doubt that you're correct in that regard. But while B&B's fill a nice little niche, they're not as accessible to the masses and attractive as a brand name hotel. The Fairfield Inn & Suites may not be wonderful (it's certainly not horrible), but what can you expect in a city that hasn't hotel downtown in decades?! The W? They need to start somewhere and I feel this option is as good as any. It's a mid-scale hotel that's known and respected as a mid-scale hotel AND it's downtown.

The location is perfect. I dislike the fact that there's no conference/events center (that could be changed if demand is there) but it's likely because the developer already owns two in the area (Whites and Rachel's) and doesn't want direct competition with his own facilities. It's also not a detriment to the waterfront's potential. The city has VAST amounts of space to build upon along the waterfront... this is but a fraction of it. In fact, the design isn't bad at all. It looks similar to a granite/wood version of the Whaling Museum and incorporates an existing historic building. Hardly cookie-cutter and well located. You say there is only one area restaurant, that's not true either. Yes, the Waterfront Grille (which is excellent, by the way) is right across the street. However, you're within EASY walking distance (through the nicest part of the city, mind you) to the Catwalk, Cork, Rose Alley, Candleworks, Cafe Balena, The Spicey Lime, Freestones, Brick, Destination Soups, etc, etc, etc. There are really no shortage of good dining options nearby.

After reading your post I'm inclined to ask, what is your issue with the hotel and what do you expect? New Bedford is a city loaded with potential but is far from reaching it at the moment. We can't expect a top tier hotel in town with no precedent for it. This is a good start for a waterfront hotel downtown. You say that there are hotels across the bridge in Fairhaven and a "big name" hotel in town already (I hope you don't mean the Days Inn on Hathaway) and that's all fine and good, but they don't put anyone within walking distance of downtown like the Fairfield will. If downtown is going to thrive, it needs that foot traffic at all times (not just 9-5 mon-fri like it is now). This is a step in the right direction and I just can't see it as a bad thing.

I like the Lofts at Wamsutta too. I'm curious though, where did you get your price figure of $1800? I'd laugh if that's what they were as well. When I toured the complex, I was told prices started between $800 and $1,000 for 1 and 2 bedroom units (nice little units, by the way). A quick google search yielded results that confirmed what I remembered hearing ( http://www.apartmentguide.com/apartments/Massachusetts/New-Bedford/The-Lofts-at-Wamsutta-Place/82402/ ) --- that a 1 bedroom starts at $850 and a 2 bedroom goes for $995. Those may be a little high considering the location and that it's difficult to reach downtown from there, but not NEARLY as bad as the $1800 you suggested. The amenities (pool, fitness center, and small gallery) are quite nice too. The New Bedford Antiques Center has been relocated from Fairhaven Mills to a building on the Wamsutta complex too and in my opinion is better than before.

I don't disagree that the Fairhaven Mills demolition is sad. In a perfect world it would be preserved and reused. It is, however, in rough shape. It may not be in COMPLETE disrepair, but it's far from being an easy fixer-upper. I walked the site not more than 3 weeks ago and that really confirmed to me that it should be demolished. I don't know why you feel the scale is good. When walking around it, it felt hulking and stood in STARK contrast to the surrounding neighborhood (not in a good way). It may be noticeable from I-195, but it looks to be in rough shape to anyone driving by and would hardly scream, "stop here!" to passersby without extensive work. It would cost any developer a prohibitive amount of money to renovate and I can't see someone forking over that money in the near future. The McMall is by no means a wonderful solution (but you have to admit, it's better than a Home Depot), but it will make use of a site with mixed-use construction that would otherwise site empty with a rotting building. A grocery store is a good addition to the area and I'm curious to see what other tenants will locate there (I'm not surprised there are no tenants locked up given the controversy surrounding the building AND the economy) in the future. Finally, if the site DOES prove to be as valuable as we all hope it is, it'll be easier to renovate/redevelop a strip mall than it has been to destroy the nearly-vacant old mill (again, that antiques places is thriving in a new location). I'd rather see some good economic use take place there now with the possibility of replacement in the future than have people argue back and forth about whether or not a crumbling mill is worth saving AND the site is as valuable as we're told it is.

Finally, I don't think New Bedford is comparable to Portland NOW, but rather has the potential to be in the future. New Bedford IS a gateway city. It's the gateway from points South to Cape Cod and the Islands. It's also the centerpiece of the South Coast and all that region has to offer. When it's promoted as such, we will see a large increase in it's reputation and appeal. New Bedford has a comparable sized downtown to Portland and is equally architecturally significant (if not even more so). I spent 4 years living in Portland an was able to draw new comparisons every day. Portland has mastered the art of tourism (in fact, it's the city's leading business) and New Bedford is light years behind. There's no question though, that with work, New Bedford can be comparable. It does blow my mind that Gloucester gets more of the tourism. It's probably just as much because of NB's reputation for crime as it is the lack of good promoting for the city.

The small business owners and young people are what will make New Bedford great. They're the ones who take pride in the city and they will be the ones to put it back on the map.

06-16-2009, 05:56 PM
That last post got a little long-winded. Onto what I intended to post today--

Ok, I promised in the Providence thread that I would swing by New Bedford and Fall River and take some photos of construction in both cities. I made it into New Bedford, but because of time constraints didn't make it to Fall River. Maybe I'll take 24 down through Fall River on Friday before heading to Providence and snap some shots of the new courthouse downtown.

The demolition of the Fairhaven Mills building officially began today ( article here: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090616/NEWS/906160317 ). I was going to drive by and take pictures, but they hadn't really done much except remove some of the old windows (which as one comment in the Standard Times article noted, REALLY made it look better... a little ironic). So I didn't stop and take any photos. There is a photo in the article linked above.

I did get over to the Hotel site on the Waterfront and got a few shots of the progress being made there. There were a few workers on hand, but it doesn't look like TOO much progress has been made since groundbreaking a month ago.

Here are the pictures:
http://img30.picoodle.com/img/img30/2/6/16/jfoahs04/f_PICT0013m_d7a4c10.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/)

The building with the boards on the left of the photos is the old Whale Oil Factory that will be used in part of the hotel.
http://img35.picoodle.com/img/img35/2/6/16/jfoahs04/f_PICT0015m_63342cc.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/)

Don't know what happened to this picture, but I would LOVE to see those tracks re-used for a small, North-South street car again... *sigh* if only.
http://img32.picoodle.com/img/img32/2/6/16/jfoahs04/f_PICT0016m_c849c1e.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/)

And as a bonus, the beautifully restored Bourne Counting House right across from the hotel site:
http://img30.picoodle.com/img/img30/2/6/16/jfoahs04/f_PICT0017m_425bbb7.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/)

And an extra (a "bonus" bonus?) bonus, the Schooner Ernestina (State Ship of Massachusetts) docked in New Bedford (taken in true Boston02124 fashion):
http://img36.picoodle.com/img/img36/2/6/16/jfoahs04/f_PICT0019m_6c12e6e.jpg (http://www.picoodle.com/)

06-16-2009, 07:42 PM

I was just telling my friend about your post and we both agreed you must be a friend of C or L (or maybe Bill but I doubt it) in the mayor's office, since no one else would state what you reported, especially the city council part!

Be sure to pass along what you say about tourism to L-- or C---, since their boss is the tourism director's supervisor, and the downtown population thinks there should be obvious improvements or that job eliminated. (Actually, if we had a highly effective Chamber of Commerce, they would be doing that job as in other towns.)

The Ocean Explorium: Again, you're reading but not visiting. The Ocean Explorium is based on good intentions, but it is ultimately a UMassD grant scoop (using $350k of EPA money that was supposed to be used for toxics-reduction environmental education for NB, which, by the way, is a city with toxicity issues) that does not truly engage with the community and still looks like a bank lobby with a big blue cube in the middle (Science on a Sphere---what our EPA $350k paid for) (Note to UMassD: our toxic city needed that $350k more than an expensive spherical projection screen showing the effects of global warming in 100 years). The "for lease" sign on it is larger than the 5'x3' sign that states it is the Ocean Explorium. Few local residents know what it is. No locals were asked to be on its board. And we already have SeaLab and another program doing much the same work. Our federal tax dollars at work....

The Art Museum has a wooden sign with letters from the hardware store (a much better sign is indoors). I lived 3 blocks away for a year before I realized what it was. I'm not sure when it's open. Recently it had a cool Audubon exhibit. But visitors to the city wouldn't know that.
Really, you need ESP to know what's going on in NB unless you do a lot of research.

The residents unhappy with the new bars are unhappy with the rowdiness of the 20-somethings late into the night. Again, that doesn't bother me.

I have worked in 3 rehab'd mills, all of which started in worse shape than Fairhaven Mill. One of them is the famous mill in Maynard where DEC helped spark the "Massachusetts Miracle" in the 1970s. And a local developer says the stated cost to rehab Fairhaven Mill is oddly high. The mill is in good basic shape. People forget they should compare the mill rehab with new construction and its permitting---much much more expensive.

Wamsutta: If apartments are now starting at $800-$1,000, that's because they were so hilariously high as of December. 'Good to hear they are now more in line with the local rental market. (Earth to NB developers: This isn't Boston.)

You are using the plural a bit liberally when noting the galleries here. There are four-ish(Moniz, Gallery X when open, White Knight, Colo Colo, new Navia and one that has a different name every year), 2 of which qualify more as gift/craft shops. Three galleries went out of business in the past 3 years. But it's OK.
Restaurants: Freestone's, No Problemo, Brick, Cork, Catwalk. Two of those are new. There are also 4 lunch places frequented by the social service crowd. On Sundays, nearly everything is closed. Guess what is the second busiest tourist day?

NB isn't a gateway city. You can easily bypass it if traveling from NJ or Providence to the Cape. Portland is much much larger and is one of only two cities of size in Maine. It's on the train line to Boston. It also offers access to the islands. Our fast ferries to Cuttyhunk and MV are expensive but offer easier parking.

When you start a business here and register it with City Hall, no local business organizations contact you.

The city has a "creative economy" office (like Lowell, Salem, etc.) but can't tell you what a creative economy is.

My point is NOT that NB is a losing proposition. It's that a lot of money is spent on ineffective people (few in City Hall get their jobs with resumes) and programs here, when the organic thing---the 20-something entrepreneurs and others---are the real operatives here and are largely ignored and unsupported by our paid leaders.
Democracy is eroded here, with the mayor taking over civic volunteer groups without understanding how harmful that is. Also, alternative energy opportunities, including copious state funding, are missed because the mayor tells us that "nuclear cold fusion will be on line in five years," so we don't need wind turbines. Plus, he says, "we're on the grid, why do we need these?" I'm not making this up. This got a good laugh at the state environmental office. Then some furrowed brows.

NB's real value proposition is that it's a great scale for a city, has growing community sense (thanks to the cafes and 20-somethings around No Problemo), has an accessible working waterfront (soon to be marred by the Fairfield Inn big-box flophouse), still has affordable boat moorings, has decent restaurants (mostly outside downtown), still has utilitarian shops (you can get things fixed here), a great walk along the hurricane barrier, a good hospital, affordable homes (including grand ones), parks, lots of farms in nearby Westport and Dartmouth, a symphony, a music theater, and a good health clinic.

It can be a good place to live and run a business (bring your own job unless you're a nurse or a dentist). It's an excellent proposition for retirees who don't mind winter and who want to be near boating.

Local leaders don't see what's great about NB because they've been here too long or are here for the wrong reasons (it is said NB is the last bastion of parochialism and rampant political patronage). Unfortunately, the local administration's practice of quashing anything proposed by newcomers (such as new committees, unpaid civic volunteer groups, etc.) is partly what keeps it from blossoming into something nicer.

NB will never be Portland (post-1990) or Seattle, but it could be a decent place to live. As the real estate market correction brings property prices here back down to what they should be, anyone looking for a decent and affordable city with a view of the full range of harbor life should come to New Bedford to check it out. Sit at Green Bean Cafe or Lydia's on a Sunday morning then go for a walk along the hurricane barrier (the rocky seawall---you'll see it at the mouth of the harbor).

06-16-2009, 10:03 PM
Once again, I think we're on similar pages (though not QUITE the same). Many of your complaints are the same ones I have. In a nutshell, untapped potential and backwards politics (worse even than in Boston or Providence) are the bane of New Bedford's success. I am no friend of Lang's (or the rest of the bunch)... I just happen to have some personal contacts with him (nothing of "value" though). I doubt anything I could say would have any pull with city hall/ city council (though I don't know that I said anything about city council previously?) though. You see, if you've ever met Lang (and I'm sure you have as a downtown business owner), you'll notice that he has something resembling adult A.D.D. He's all over the place.

the C of C in New Bedford is a joke. Like you've mentioned, the bulk of (positive) attention being brought to New Bedford is a result of some savvy entrepreneurs who have made a conscious effort to be seen and heard (though Lang will gladly pose for the pictures for the press-- did you see the article titled, "A Whale of a City" in the Boston Herald?); not the C of C or tourism office as it should be.

I've visited the Ocean Explorium (twice). It's just the sphere... for now. It's also TERRIBLY marked (for a while the way they advertised made it seem as if it were ON the waterfront... not a good distance up Union like they are in reality). My point was not that it IS a nice attraction it was that it's about to BE a nice attraction. In two weeks a large chunk of additional exhibits are opening (I was able to see them as they neared completion, quite nice) and the place will be better for it. Even after the July 4th "grand opening" they have work to do (and they are doing it, albeit at a snail's pace) to complete the place but judgement can't be placed on the explorium yet. It's too soon. Like many other businesses and attractions in New Bedford it needs to be advertised and marketed (by MUCH more visible signage) a lot better. The same can be said for the Art Museum which right now has a great Contemporary Marine Art exhibit going on, but as you noted, no one would know without looking aggressively for it.

I too share your distaste for the fact that many restaurants (and other businesses) aren't open on Sundays (and many others have limited hours on Saturdays). Again, the city can't expect people to want to head into town on the weekends if there's nowhere to eat or shop. Some of the newer restaurants have understood this, but others still don't see it and remain closed on Sunday (or the entire weekend).

I also both like and dislike that New Bedford's best restaurants are spread throughout the city as opposed to being concentrated downtown. I like it because many of the restaurants give a real neighborhood feel in a comfortable environment. Places like M&C Cafe, Cafe Funchal, Miller's Homeport, the former Adega (Fresca Grille-- http://frescagrill.com/ -- is about to open in its place), etc are all good restaurants in neighborhood locations. It's a nice feeling to go to one of those places. At the same time, the city's downtown should be the hub of dining and most other activity and it isn't because many restaurants are so spread out. If more of them were concentrated downtown, you'd see a lot more activity after hours (probably on Sunday too).

I completely understand the residents' complaint about the new bars and the noise. However, it really is good for the city. Those bars are packed on weekends and not with drug dealing, gang banging low-lifes (they're outside of downtown), but with active college kids and young professionals... many of whom (like myself) are from outside of the city. In fact, New Bedford has in just the past few years made itself on of the top choices for nightlife in the area (it'll never be Newport or Providence, but it's a growing scene). I know you don't have a problem with the bars, but the positive exposure to the city amongst that young group of people that will soon be professionals (or already are) is a VERY good thing. It'll attract more young people to the area (something the administration can't/hasn't done) and shed some positive light on the city to people in the surrounding areas (who quite frankly, think New Bedford is the pit of the earth... well, almost. Fall River is viewed even more negatively in my opinion).

Again, I'm not so sure it's less expensive to renovate an old mill building than it is to demolish and rebuild from scratch. Everything I've seen points in the other direction. You still have to go through an extensive permitting process and depending on the individual building, you have to spend a TON to keep the original structure in tact while building it to code. I've rarely seen a Renovation on an old building (particularly one like the Fairhaven Mill) that was cheaper than demo and building new (they can and WILL use ultra-cheap materials). Maybe I'm just not looking at the right projects.

If Wamsutta was marketing at close to $1800/mo they're out of their minds. Even in Boston $1800 for a 1 bedroom in a location like that is nuts. When you can get a 2 bedroom in New Bedford (a larger one at that) for $500/mo, there's no way you'll pay more than 3x that amount. Speaking of Wamsutta, I've been annoyed with the complete botching of the Victoria Mill renovation (I believe it would have been done by the same guy as Wamsutta). That's another disaster you can chalk up to city council.

There are more than 4 or 5 galleries. You didn't mention ArtWorks! which has exhibits and classes, Centre Street, Mare, Judith Klein, Crowell's or the UMass Dartmouth Gallery. I may be forgetting some, but that's not a BAD selection for a small area. Could there be more? Absolutely, but there are more than just "4ish."

I think my biggest disagreement (some of the others, like number of galleries, could be considered nitpicks) with you is that I think New Bedford is a gateway city of sorts and can be a better one. It just needs to market itself as such. I don't think my comparisons to Portland are invalid. Maybe we're just not talking about the same Portland (Maine). New Bedford is quite a bit bigger than Portland, actually (Portland has 63,000 people in a larger land area than New Bedford which has 95,000). New Bedford looks and feels a good deal larger than Portland. Portland has some more suburban retail than NB since it's (as you mentioned) the largest city in the area while New Bedford is close to Boston, Providence, Fall river, etc; but in no way is Portland, ME the bigger city.

Portland has the advantage in that it is the largest city for a good distance (whereas New Bedford isn't), but that doesn't mean New Bedford isn't a gateway city like Portland. Tourists in Maine can (and do) just as easily pass through Portland to get to the Midcoast, Mountains and Bar Harbor as tourists to Cape Cod and the Islands pass through New Bedford. Good marketing, good business (with heavy emphasis placed on youth entrepreneurs/ local business like New Bedford is starting to do), and good location have pulled some of those tourists into Portland. There's no reason New Bedford can't do the same (of course it'll take time and effort). It's right along the primary route to Cape Cod from points South, and it has great ferry access to the islands. It doesn't have the train (I'm not counting on the commuter rail to NB, but Portland won't have rail after September either unless they get funding by the end of the month). It's the primary city for the beautiful region of the South Coast. It may not be marketed as a gateway city, but it really is and it can be even better at it.

I'm not looking at New Bedford to be Seattle (not even close to a fair comparison), but it can follow a lot of Portland, ME's lead. The bar scene, the artistic community, the music (NB's symphony is a LOT better), and the restaurants situated in a nice, old historic NEw England port (with a working waterfront) are what make Portland so successful. Why is it that New Bedford can't do the same (it's got the raw materials). New Bedford's probably a decade or more behind Portland, but there's no reason it can't eventually get there.

I think I'm in total agreement with your last 5 paragraphs (starting at "My point is NOT that NB is a losing proposition...") with the exception of the Portland thing... they have more in common than you may think. There is a BIG problem with local politics (don't think that because I know some of the key players through family that I support them) in New Bedford that has been taking the wind out of the city's sails for far too long. Cities like Portland ME, Portsmouth NH, Salem, Burlington VT, etc all see success because they're progressive politically. New Bedford is REgressive. While I am VERY optimistic about New Bedford's potential, I realize that has to change for that potential to be reached. I do get the sense from your posts that while you do love your city, you may take for granted some of the assets it does have (albeit flawed ones). It's easy to get a bad taste in your mouth when you have to deal with inept leaders day in and day out.

06-16-2009, 11:55 PM
I appreciate your thoughts and interesting insights about other cities.

(Just FYI: The Victoria Mill issue was a zoning board of appeals issue, not city council.)

Although I registered my business in New Bedford, Scott Lang is unaware of it and has never asked about it. My many discussions with him were about his bad process. He's ADD because he doesn't read his job description. He is always making decisions and taking on too many tasks that are beyond his authority and sometimes even legally questionable. Some of his work is good and some of it is just competent (still pretty good), and some of it is limited in vision and very underinformed. Scott also seems ADD because he's introverted but thinks he should always be saying something all the time, which leads to some pretty absurd statements. He's better one on one and when he doesn't feel threatened.

NB is a lump under the armpit of Cape Cod. It is actually further south than Providence.
It is not a gateway city but it can be a charming "best kept secret" city. But it needs more people like me and others down here who hang out very visibly downtown and in the two cafes, letting visitors know that we are not afraid of crime. Or perhaps all it needs is more jobs.

The galleries you list aren't galleries, except for Judith Klein which is the one that has switched hands this year. Mare is a photographer, not open to the public. Centre Street lost its two galleries (and Magnan soon), but I did note Colo Colo. Artworks and UMassD are not really promoted much as open to the public nor are open regularly. I don't think we absolutely need more galleries. The arts angle is overemphasized. Most artists have left here because it's no longer cheap to live here. The $500 2BR you refer to is not common anymore. Property taxes are high here.

I don't take for granted NB's assets. I was a big NB cheerleader until I just got pressed down too many times. There is so much more I can write about its dysfunctions. If you visit downtown, you might see some of the work I've done. I have put in my time. What you don't hear about NB is that there are people who came here to give it a try and have left and are leaving. John Magnan, who you see in the Channel 5 Chronicle segment, is leaving because, he says, he wants to be in a city with things to do.

The good press you see about NB recently was generated by a PR firm hired by the city. That's fine. That is the city's job. We've laughed at the inaccurate NY Times article and the very, very nice but not wholly representative Chronicle segment.

Ocean Explorium was UMassD's idea of a consolation prize for not getting an Oceanarium on the waterfront. But UMassD does not understand community-based programming. And this center is outside of its scope (it's Jean McCormick's pet project). The Ocean Explorium was built on $350K of EPA money that was to be used to address more pressing imperatives in the city, such as our contaminated soil and water. The Explorium might seem impressive to you, but what you don't see is it duplicates SeaLab programs and it is taking the place of the environmental programming that is so needed in New Bedford. We already have two or three hands-on marine science programs in the city.

You don't hear much about some recent successes at the NB Business Park (because that's not the work of Matt Morrissey, the mayoral heir apparent Lang is grooming): several new businesses, including clean energy start-ups.

NB would be a great place to start a manufacturing business, since the local population has a record of being reasonably priced and not missing work.

All of this writing reminds me of one essential deficiency here: New Bedford is not welcoming.

It obsesses on silver bullets, yet the NBEDC director can't be bothered to say hello and make small talk with people. The mayor actually does make an effort but doesn't understand that he shouldn't squelch everything I start here just because he owes it as a political favor to someone else.

OK, that's my NB warning to the world. Come here if you are a cold yankee or have a ready-made community here (family or work). Make sure you have a job. Don't pay too much for real estate and rentals. Take part in meetings and civic process. Speak up! (too few do here). And enjoy the view and the fresh scallops.

Ron Newman
06-17-2009, 01:23 AM
We already have 4 B&Bs, a major hotel in town and two hotels just over the bridge within site of our tourist draws.

Where is this existing 'major hotel in town' ? I've walked all over NB's downtown without finding any hotel.

A failed hotel is just across the street from this site.

Where's this? I also don't recall seeing any closed former hotels.

Finally, what do you all think of Summerfest as a tourist promotion? It certainly got me looking around a city that I had previously ignored.

06-18-2009, 10:15 AM

RIGHT across the narrow street from the soon-to-be-built Fairfield Soul-less Political Agenda Inn is a lovely granite block building, the Bourne Counting House, with a glass penthouse. This was a hotel with a good fish restaurant in the penthouse (imagine the view). But it did not thrive, and so was sold and turned into offices.

There is a Day's Inn in New Bedford.
Right across the bridge and within sight of the Fairfield Inn McHotel site is a Holiday Inn/Seaport Inn. As you can see, the old Seaport Inn part of it is being rehab'd. The adjacent Holiday Inn was purchased out of bankruptcy recently. I'm told by my guests that it's pretty decent for what it costs. It is walking distance to downtown.
Down the street from this Holiday Inn is the art deco motor inn, the Huddleston Motor Inn, and beyond that is the Hampton Inn.
There are also four nice B&Bs right in downtown.
Past that, in Mattapoisett, on the water, is the Kinsale Inn, which a couple years ago closed its inn rooms.

Summerfest is good for NB, and the attendees like it. It doesn't seem as jam-packed as 4 years ago, but that might be true of many events.
Again, this is not a tourism city.
And who cares anyway? I lived in Concord, a tourism town, and can tell you that tourists are fun, add cachet, and buy ice cream and trickets, but they don't bring jobs and major revenue.
Lowell has as much to see as NB, and no one is obsessing on it as a tourism city. Let's stop assuming that Newport is a thriving business model that must be replicated everywhere.

I forgot to note that the Fairfield Inn's developers received a TIF from the city. As a prominent business development person here noted, TIFs are not for prime waterfront sites.

06-18-2009, 10:24 AM
Ron, I just noticed that LrFox posted a photo of the Bourne Counting House, a former hotel, above. Imagine a nice place like that, with a penthouse restaurant and a small cafe at ground level, not doing well as a hotel and you see the issue.
Note that a developer proposed to make the Fairhaven Mill a hotel, but the mayor quashed that plan. Months later we heard about his machinations to get the hotel at this site. When we all heard it was a Fairfield Inn, we were aghast.

06-18-2009, 01:44 PM
I like the Bourne Counting House as a hotel. How long ago was it one? I thought it was 30 years ago or more (40?). Needless to say, times have changed a little bit since it was open as a hotel (though I CERTAINLY wouldn't mind seeing it as a hotel again with a restaurant and cafe).

While the concept of the Fairfield Inn is not exactly mouth watering, I see it as more of a positive than a negative. People looking to visit new places most often look for familiarity and a sure bet in hotels. B&Bs are nice, but they are not big and they're not familiar. Not too many families or business travelers stay in B&Bs. The Fairfield Inn isn't a wonderful top-tier brand, but it's more highly regarded than a Days Inn and on par with a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn. It's an attractive option for a middle-class person looking to check out the city (like you said, NB isn't a tourist destination) or a client needing an overnight spot. It's within walking distance to EVERYTHING downtown. Calling the Holiday Inn in Fairhaven "walking distance" is a BIG stretch. Walking across the Pope's Island Bridge (by a strip club and traffic traveling very quickly on 4 lanes) is not ideal for most people. The Days Inn is a dump and WELL outside the center of the city.

Finally, the hotel may be a chain, but it's not going to be a cookie-cutter Fairfield Inn building. The structure is unique to the location as it incorporates materials that are commonly used in the area and it makes use of a historic building on site. It's cookie cutter in name only which is a VERY good thing. It'll provide 106 decent quality rooms right next to downtown and there is no other hotel that does that currently (even when the Bourne Counting House was a hotel it had to have been tiny).

I know a good number of business owners downtown and you're the only one I've heard complain about the hotel. I think it's a bit of a stretch to hope for something nicer when there is no precedent (except a "failed" hotel) of something nicer in that location. In a city that's really just trying to appeal to tourists in the last decade, I have a hard time expecting something better (and you've already noticed my rather positive outlook on the city) and am frankly surprised the chain selected wasn't worse.

If this hotel sees success, nicer chains (maybe something a bit more boutique?) may gain interest, but they won't venture into uncharted waters (which is really what New Bedford is). I, for one, would LOVE to see that old power plant just a ways south of the hotel site (you know, the one that was supposed to be the aquarium?) be turned into a nice mixed-use project with residential, hotel, office and retail space (probably a pipe-dream). The Fairhaven Mill site could have been a great rehab for the money, but not for a hotel; It's a crappy spot to stay. Like Wamsutta, people would have a hard time getting to downtown from there.

I've only attended summerfest once. It was nice and many of the people I spoke with were from outside the city. I personally think the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament (not as religious as it sounds) is more entertaining and has nothing to do with downtown ( http://www.portuguesefeast.com/ ). I also enjoy the small working waterfront festival ( http://www.workingwaterfrontfestival.org/ ) in September.

Tourism isn't something New Bedford should try to plug as the city's next primary industry. However, tourists spend money in local businesses and that's never a bad thing. Tourism should never be considered the salvation of the city, but it can be a nice compliment to a hard-working port and fishing industry.

Personally, I'd rather see an emphasis on trying to bring educated people to the area with more white-collar work. People leave New Bedford for greener pastures in Boston, Providence, New York, etc. New Bedford won't ever break out of its rut unless it finds a way to retain educated people. Nearly everyone I grew up with in the area who has a degree has moved to Boston or elsewhere (hell, I moved after I got my degree).

06-18-2009, 03:01 PM
Hi. It was more recent than 30-40 years ago that Bourne was a hotel. I appreciate that your young friend in the mayor's office might not remember it, but it was there.

Remember that up 'til the '80s, there was more local travel. Now, visitation to Concord and Lowell is down. Mystic Seaport is in financial trouble because visitation is way down (and despite two casinos in the region). Local shopkeepers in NB tell me that tourism is way down here, more every year. The trend for domestic travel is going the other way.

The Bourne Counting House was recently for sale and was sold to a company late last year as a tax shelter for a decent price. So it could have been purchased by the LaFrance Hospitality Group and made into hotel and/or banquet rooms.

The Fairfield Inn will incorporate the stone building if possible (the mayor refused to allow creation of an architectural review committee for the waterfront). However, have you seen the artist's rendering of the finished product? Typical big box Fairfield Inn. What's weird is that it will not have enough parking, so it is going to use parking spaces across the street. That parking lot is nearly always full right now.
I would support the hotel if there was going to house function rooms and banquet facilities, because that would make all the difference. But there won't be.

What's lost in a Fairfield Inn (besides optimal profit to the developer and the city) is New Bedford's provenance: Its story and its unique value proposition. Its special-ness. The sort of people who would visit NB to see the last of the working waterfront don't want to stay at a bland Fairfield Inn. We can do better and generate more profits and assets in the process.

The former N-Star facility you refer to is across the street from the Fairfield Inn site. it was purchased by Sprague. Remember that our waterfront is designated working waterfront. That site would be a great biofuels depot. I had a potential contract for 500,000 gallons of biodiesel lined up for one of the private islands, but Sprague wasn't interested. Weird. A city likely makes more money with seaport industry than with sales of trinkets and ice cream cones. There aren't many businesses downtown compared to Portsmouth or Newburyport. The real industry downtown is social services, professional and legal, (two courts here). That's why everything is open 9-5 weekdays, then closed.

"If you build it, they will come" just isn't a valid principle. Nor is "any development is better than nothing." (We have a big new empty mall complex near the south end to prove that.) And "New Bedford doesn't deserve top-tier businesses" is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

There is not enough market share here for 106 rooms. Fairfield Inns are about highway pit stops. It would make more sense to have one at the Fairhaven Mill site...which is on a highway (and the waterfront and next to Ashley Boulevard's shops). In fact, that was proposed and subsequently recommended by the advisory group set up to advise the mayor on which proposal to choose for the Mill site. But the mayor did a back-door deal with another developer so that wouldn't happen.

Local business owners support A hotel, but not a crappy big box that will mar our waterfront and spoil its chance to provide a unique and high-value experience that reveals a taste of a 19th- and 20th-century working waterfront.

We are going to need working ports in the future, and NB can serve that purpose (it's a fish processing and refrigeration port now). That angle needs to be exploited more and it perhaps is by the port director.

LfFox, I'm an educated person who brought her white-collar creative economy business here. Did the mayor, etc., ever ask about my business or support my efforts to create civic volunteer groups of the sort in which I took part in other cities? No. In fact, they let me know that only Scott Lang or local politically connected people can do that. No one here is surprised by this story.

The reason white-collar businesses do not locate here is that the schools have a bad reputation, perhaps because we have a high dropout rate. So executive families do not wish to be here.

I walk across the bridge to Fairhaven every day. It's brilliant. I also had an office near there and spent all hours there. It's not unsafe. There's hardly any activity around the strip club, which is for sale.

LrFox, I'm glad you're upbeat about NB, despite the political inbreeding you also have seen. I recommend attending the APA and Congress for the New Urbanism conferences if you don't already. You'll see great examples of urban renewal in forgotten cities like New Bedford. And you'll hear how it happened. It becomes apparent that New Bedford's lack of forward movement is due to software, not hardware.

That said, it's worth it for visitors to drive through the south end and north end business districts to see the last of the independently owned bakeries, hardware stores, etc. It's like going back in time (try County Street).

06-18-2009, 03:31 PM
I'll spare you another lengthy hotel debate because I think it's safe to say we should agree to disagree.

I like your proposal for the Nstar site. I was unaware of any potential uses for it at the moment which is why the mixed-use proposal came to mind. I too agree that trying to build an economy around tourism is a big risk. If they can put it to industrial use, I'd fully support it. I read a lot about short-sea-shipping that sounded appealing for New Bedford, but have heard little since. New Bedford is and always will be a city that survives on industry (whaling, textiles, manufacturing, fishing, etc) and I'd hate to see a possible industrial or commercial use be trumped in favor of a tourist trap. That doesn't mean tourism can't be a part of the city's economy (the more diverse the economy is, the better).

I fully agree with your comment about the problems being a result of the "software, not the hardware." I'm hopeful that that can change, but I'm certainly not holding my breath. New Bedford is, and has been for some time, all about untapped potential.

It's funny you mention the North and South Ends. I personally enjoy walking through Acushnet Ave. in the North End. I know it's far from perfect but it's gritty, lively (NOT just from 9-5 mon-fri), and quite unique. It can be a dangerous area on some of those side streets, but the plethora of specialty shops, restaurants (where you're almost more likely to hear Portuguese or Spanish spoken than English), bars, social clubs, etc. are quite a sight. People tend to shy away from this area due to the reputation for crime and the large ethnic populations (not to mention, the ever so annoying presence of teens "cruising the ave" blaring music in their beaters on rims) but I like the area.

The South End (to me) is a bit sadder of a site. Traveling down 18 (which is a constant reminder of urban renewal in and of itself) you're greeted by sprawling housing projects and a vacant (but GORGEOUS) old theater in the Orpheum. I think the area has LOTs of potential, but is far from reaching it (I particularly like the area around Ashley Park along Rivet which could be a true neighborhood center, and Rodney French which has stunning views and a great park in Fort Tabor). It's a really depressing area in my opinion.

06-18-2009, 07:23 PM

The former N-Star site was purchased by Sprague for use as a fuel depot.

If you'd like to see the inside of the Orpheum, you can sign up for clean-up crew for Saturday (Operation Clean Sweep and ORPH). Unless it's pouring, there will be cleaning around and inside (unless I have that wrong) the Orpheum 9-11 a.m.

NB is still a bit of a freight port. Fruit comes in on smaller freighters (interesting to see them scoot through the swing bridge with just a few feet on either side) as you stand on the bridge.

That's what makes NB cool: You can see all of this happen up close. That and its scale and other assets give it potential to be a very livable city. Alas, it is also grant- and aid-dependent, and so a whole system is in place to keep the same families and groups circulating in jobs and positions of power. There is no room for newcomers (and certainly not volunteers) in this.

08-19-2009, 07:51 AM
'A symbolic hotel' for downtown

This project will be the first hotel in the city's downtown since the New Bedford Hotel closed its doors in 1969.


09-08-2009, 08:15 AM
A good overview of things happening in town with an interesting aerial shot of a good chunk of Downtown.

Within Reach
Once just a dream, a revitalized city core is now a reality

http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/2/9/8/jfoahs04/f_10pet7sum2fm_a8ffe38.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

September 06, 2009 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The city's downtown has always been poised for great things although that potential was at times cloaked by vacant storefronts and empty streets.

But to some people, the gleam of opportunity was always there.

It was in the cobblestoned streets and the stunning harbor; it was in the historic architecture and the cutting-edge artists.

Now, less than a decade after UMass Dartmouth moved into the Star Store ? an event almost universally pointed to as the catalyst that helped recreate downtown as a humming commercial and residential center ? the revitalization that was just out of reach for so long is finally coming to pass.

From the "realistic" real estate prices to the vibrant group of young entreprenuers, there are great possibilities in downtown New Bedford, said Philip Dwane, a Martha's Vineyard-based developer.

A lot has happened downtown in just five or six years, and there is still tremendous room for growth, said the developer, who is set to open a new coffeehouse on North Water Street and also has a small interest in the Cummings Building.

"If you were to give me a choice between the Vineyard and New Bedford, as regards investing, I'd take New Bedford ? that's how positive I feel," he said. "New Bedford is definitely heading in the right direction."


Although downtown now buzzes with activity, that wasn't always the case.

When John Magnan, a Centre Street resident, moved downtown 13 years ago, he was one of only a few people living in the neighborhood, he said.

What is now one of the most charming streets in the historic district had at the time an empty lot on the corner, he said, and at least one building in danger of collapse.

Entertainment options were limited to hardscrabble bars such as the Seabreeze ? "One of the hardest driving drug bars with prostitutes in downtown," said Magnan ? and Cultivator Shoals.

"It was just empty place after empty place," he said.

When Bill King, a downtown resident, started working downtown at the New Bedford-Acushnet Cooperative Bank as an entry-level banker in 1978, it seemed there were banks on every corner he said.

While downtown was busy during the day with bankers and insurance agents and other 9-to-5 types, its streets emptied quickly at the end of the business day, said King.

"Work ended; you vacated downtown," he said. "By six, six-thirty, you wouldn't want to be caught down there for anything," he said.

The historic district was even more desolate, home as it was to notorious bars such as the National Club and the Cultivator, he said.

"In the evening, you never walked down below Freestone's, below the Whaling Museum, because that was uncharted territory so to speak," said King.

Twenty-five years ago when Arthur and Jean Bennett bought their property on the corner of Front and Centre Street, no one was interested in buying property downtown, they said.

"It was kind of pioneering to think of actually living down here," said Jean.

However, the Bennetts ? who remember downtown in the 1950s, "when you could buy a fur coat in three different stores," said Jean ? thought then and are not surprised now that the downtown would take off eventually.


In the mid-1990s, Montigny, who was elected to the state Senate in 1993, started thinking about the Star Store, the former department store on the corner of Purchase and Union streets.

This building, once home to a thriving department store, had been sitting empty since 1985, its vacancy not only symbolic of how far downtown had fallen but also "a physical barrier" to the revitalization of downtown, said Montigny.

"You couldn't attract private investment to do the Star Store and yet leaving the Star Store empty" was preventing other entrepreneurs from coming into downtown, he said.

At the same time, administrators from UMass Dartmouth approached Montigny, looking for funding to build new space for the university's College of Visual and Performing Arts.

"In the beginning, there was never a specific (goal) that this has to be an arts and cultural center," Montigny said of the Star Store. "This project very easily could have been something else."

But marrying the two goals ? redeveloping the Star Store and building a campus for the College of Visual and Performing Arts ? had the potential to recreate downtown New Bedford as an arts and cultural hub, said Montigny.

"The risk was pretty serious because we could have built it on the campus for cheaper," he said.

The university came on board, and Montigny, after what he calls one his toughest political battles, secured the funding for the $18 million project.

In 2001, Star Store re-opened; it now serves about 400 UMass students a semester as well as several hundred students from Bristol Community College, according to John Hoey, a UMass Dartmouth spokesman.

Meanwhile, several years earlier Waterfront Historic Area League, known as WHALE, and other advocates had succeeded after years of work in getting downtown's historic district designated a national historical park.

The renovated Star Store and the national historic park anchored downtown, the two developments acting as catalysts for the revitalization that was to follow.

For downtown to become the arts and cultural center he was envisioning, institutions such as the Zeiterion and the Whaling Musuem had to succeed; small galleries needed to open; residents needed to move into downtown's second and third floor spaces, Montigny said.

So, Montigny helped different downtown organizations secure seed money and private developers secure tax credits that made residential building projects economically feasible.

"In many cases, they were coming to me at budget time asking for a survival chit," said Montigny.


The plan worked, and private investment started to roll into New Bedford.

In 2003, Hall Keen LLC of Norwood finalized the purchase of five different buildings along Union Street between Purchase and Pleasant streets.

The project, known as the Union Street Lofts, created 35 apartments and also contains 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, according to Mark Hess, of Hall Keen.

The funding for the $13 million project was a mix of conventional financing, grants and tax credits, according to Hess.

The project would not have been feasible without public financial support, he said.

"You have this beautiful, building stock that sort of deserves and warrants that kind of investment," he said. "But on the other hand, the economics aren't there to do it right."

For developers to bridge the gap, at least based on the current market in New Bedford, they need historic tax credits and other subsidies, he said.

According to Hess, Hall Keen decided to leap into New Bedford based on two factors: a study completed by the city in 2000 that identified critical properties for redevelopment and the major investment by UMass Dartmouth in the Star Store.

"New Bedford has been a diamond in the rough for quite some time and really needed, particularly in the downtown, a critical mass of investment activity to get it over the hump," said Hess.

In the early 2000s, "it seemed like the city was ready for a sustained redevelopment," he said.

The Hall Keen project, when taken with other residential projects completed around the same time such as Jim Muse's rehabilitation of the Hudner Building on Union, was another critical juncture in downtown's trajectory, said Hess.

"I think this project was really a pivot point in terms of demonstrating that it really could be done," he said.


Despite the renewed interest, development occurred in fits and starts through the mid-2000s. A 2007 economic study of downtown New Bedford found that 38 percent of ground-floor retail space remained vacant ? a rate virtually unchanged since 2000.

However, the same study found that more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space in the district, or one-third of the total available space, had been renovated since 2000.

In total, more than $80 million in renovations and new construction had been completed, started or planned between 2000 and 2007, the study found.

Downtown's residential community continued to grow, and commercial outlets followed suit: No Problemo, a Mexican restaurant, opened on the corner of Purchase and William in 2002; the Catwalk Bar and Grille opened on lower Union Street the same year; Cork came to Front Street in late 2006.

The development started snowballing: since the start of 2007, more than 30 retail businesses have opened or expanded in downtown.

Despite the broader economic meltdown of the past few years, there is a sense right now that a good business concept will be successful in downtown, said Jay Lanagan, one of the owners of Rose Alley Ale House on Front Street.

"You can't really make a huge impact" in a larger city, more established city such as Boston, he said.

"Where in New Bedford, if you have the energy and the foresight, you can probably do well and be part of something that develops quickly," he said. "It's just a big, old interesting city and has a lot of potential."

Downtown has had upswings before, upswings often followed by downswings, according to Diane Nichols, executive director of Downtown New Bedford Inc.

But this time, there's a palpable feeling that the positive change is for keeps.

Downtown's advocates ? frankly, these days it's hard to find a detractor ? point to more than just the retail developments: There's AHA!, an event that has grown from nine partners to more than 50 and which pumps more than $500,000 a year into the local economy; there's the recently-expanded Ocean Explorium; the many festivals held in Custom House Square.

There is, many people say, so much going on in New Bedford, there's no need to go elsewhere.


However, downtown's transformation is not all sunshine and roses: as more people ? residents, business owners, customers ? have congregated downtown, some tensions have emerged.

The Centre Street neighborhood ? home to both a growing residential population and an emerging nightlife district ? is the epicenter of the growing pains.

"It seemed like the spigot just got turned on," Steve Beauregard, the city's Licensing Board chairman, said of the changes in that neighborhood. "Rose Alley, I think that had a lot to do with it, that might be the tipping point."

Rose Alley Ale House, which opened earlier this year, joined a group of entertainment venues ? among them Cork, Catwalk and Fins ? that are clustered within a few blocks of each other from Union to Centre streets.

For years, the city has wanted this kind of development, said Beauregard.

"Well, they've come; they're here," he said. "Each place has a slew of people. Now what? ... Now, I think the city has to step up to the plate and provide some resources."

Some of the nearby neighbors claim that with the people have come loud, late-night arguments and vandalism.

"This neighborhood has taken a lot of hits that we're old and don't want to have noise," said Centre Street's John Magnan. "We know we're in a city."

The issue, he said, is one of planning: growth and new business is not bad, but that development needs to be better managed by the city, he said.

The Bennetts, who live next door to Magnan, agree that more management of the growth ? perhaps more of a police presence on weekend nights, they said ? would help maintain the balance between the residents and the late-night businesses.

"We have to learn to live with them, and they have to learn to live with us," said Jean Bennett. "You've got to have a critical mass to have a city."

But, she said, "Now we have to control the tipping point."

Lanagan, one of the owners of Rose Alley, said some residents want too much control over the neighborhood.

People ? residents and business owners alike ? need to realize they own a piece of downtown, not all of it, he said.

"People try to tell people what to do with their businesses too much," said Lanagan. "If they're doing something that's within zoning and within the law, they have the option to make a run for it."

While the tensions can be chalked up to growing pains ? two different groups learning to live with each other ? they have consequences, he said.

"Unfortunately, those growing pains are expensive, and they send a funny message to people who are considering starting a business or building a building in New Bedford," said Lanagan.

Some of the Centre Street neighbors are in ongoing negotiations with the Rose Alley owners to try and find a common ground.

Bill King, also a Centre Street resident, said more attention needs to be paid to the details of different business proposals and how a new business will fit into the larger picture.

"At times, for the sake of development, we don't look at the details," he said. "Development for the sake of development isn't always good."


Despite some of the concerns, everyone interviewed for this article was extremely positive about the future of New Bedford's downtown.

The city recently completed a plan for the downtown district.

The downtown hotel project ? a $12.5 million project will consist of a five-story, 106-room hotel on the city's waterfront ? is under way and should be ready for guests by early summer 2010.

The long-planned reconstruction of Route 18 took a tentative step forward last month when a public hearing to discuss the project's 25 percent design plans was held.

Many people are pointing to the Route 18 project, which would transform the downtown portion of the road from a high-speed highway to a more pedestrian-friendly boulevard, as a critical component in continuing to move downtown's growth forward.

"It is the key that ties this thriving downtown to what could be a thriving dual purpose waterfront," said Montigny.

Rose Alley's Lanagan said no one truly knows how Route 18, when complete, will affect businesses downtown, but, he continued, the project will be a good thing.

In fact, he said, "when local and state politicians say that the Route 18 project is going to happen within these time-frames it really does dictate how much investment and development does go on downtown ... I think there are a lot of people holding their breath to see it get started."

Indeed, Kevin Santos, who owns The Waterfront Grille and recently purchased the National Club building on Union Street, indicated in a recent Standard-Times story that his plans for the National Club building will be influenced by the Route 18 reconstruction.

But even though questions about the timing of the Route 18 project remain ? MassHighway is expecting design and construction to take another three years, while local and state politicians say they want the project expedited ? they have not interfered with interest in downtown real estate.

Denis Keohane, owner of the Catwalk and the Keystone site, said he has another building on Union Street under agreement, a purchase influenced by Santos' purchase of the National Club building and by the plans for Route 18.

The deal for the Keystone site, which had been under agreement to a Boston-based real estate firm, fell through last month, but Keohane said he is now may keep the site.

"Now with all the development talks in downtown, I may just develop it myself," he said.

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090906/NEWS/909060344/1011/TOWN10

09-08-2009, 09:01 AM
I liked that article alot. It made me want to check out New Bedford. Thanks for the post.

09-08-2009, 10:18 AM
I know New Bedford is excited about the prospect of commuter rail connecting it to Boston, but just as importantly I think is better transit within the city itself. It seems like a streetcar or light rail line serving downtown and nearby areas that are ripe for growth could be a real catalyst for attracting people to live and work downtown, particularly those who are looking for a car-free or car-lite lifestyle, but who don't want to move to Boston. Perhaps part of the Route 18 reconstruction could be the addition of a streetcar?

09-08-2009, 11:00 AM
I know New Bedford is excited about the prospect of commuter rail connecting it to Boston, but just as importantly I think is better transit within the city itself. It seems like a streetcar or light rail line serving downtown and nearby areas that are ripe for growth could be a real catalyst for attracting people to live and work downtown, particularly those who are looking for a car-free or car-lite lifestyle, but who don't want to move to Boston. Perhaps part of the Route 18 reconstruction could be the addition of a streetcar?

This is a good point. A Streetcar heading North-South along 18 connecting the South and North Ends of the city (Ironically, the sales pitch on 18 to begin with was that it would "connect" the South End to the rest of the city) would be a big improvement. In addition, another line along Union could do really well for connecting the city in an East-West fashion (feeder lines could be added later). While downtown is thriving now, many neighborhoods are still struggling (an understatement in many cases). Connecting them to the city center is necessary if there are going to be serious hopes for a full revitalization, not just downtown. This has been discussed by many (Montigny and Kristina Egan of the EOT to name a few), but little has been done to get it beyond casual discussion.

The good news is that the Commuter Rail station downtown is intended to be intermodal. It will obviously have the commuter rail to Boston, but it will also have connections with local and regional buses as well as easy access to Martha's Vinyard and Cuttyhunk ferries (which are both located within a close proximity to the station site). The commuter rail to Boston will be a good thing, but intermodal and local transit will be what helps the city the most.

09-14-2009, 09:20 AM
Not a huge project, but a great one no less. I love this building. It's right on Front St. near all the newer bars and restaurants in what's turning into an awesome area. I'm thrilled that they're making it green too.

Here's the rendering of what it's going to look like when finished:
http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/2/9/14/f_l1u524ahct5m_30491f3.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

I am glad they are keeping it mostly in tact (It was built in 1832). I can't find a picture of it as it is now, but it looks like the rendering, just in need of a little TLC. It joins a growing list of historic buildings in this stretch of Downtown that are finally be revamped and used as they should be. What the rendering doesn't show is that it sits on the corner of cobbled streets and is adjacent to other buildings of this sort so it's not on an island.

Coalition for Buzzards Bay builds 'green' headquarters

September 14, 2009 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Imagine this city's industrial rooftops lush with grasses and plants that soak up stormwater, thereby preventing combined sewer overflows that pollute New Bedford Harbor with untreated sewage.

Mark Rasmussen, president of the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, imagines such a future in his quest to improve the health of Buzzards Bay. He is one step closer to achieving his dream now that construction is under way at the advocacy group's new "green" headquarters on Front Street.

The group is renovating the 1832 Coggeshall Counting House with environmentally friendly features that will reduce energy usage and educate the public about green building techniques they can replicate in their homes and businesses. Using historic photographs and records, architects and builders are attempting to restore the building's exterior brick and granite facade to its 19th century condition, when it housed a chandlery, counting rooms, and sail and rigging lofts. Partially rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1939, the building has lost much of its original character and beauty.

"The level at which they are carrying out the restoration and the level at which they are bringing in sustainable design is at a level that we have not seen yet in New Bedford," said Derek Santos, chairman of the New Bedford Historic Commission. "We are very excited and couldn't be more supportive of what they are doing."

The four-story brick building will showcase a vegetated roof that will absorb up to 50 percent of heavy rainfall during storms.

With a traditional roof, 100 percent of the rainwater would flow down the building and into storm drains, where it would mix with untreated sewage. Overburdened sewer pipes would dump the wastewater into the harbor rather than sending it to the city's wastewater treatment plant.

The green roof is the "one thing that the building is doing directly" to reduce pollution in New Bedford Harbor and Buzzards Bay, Rasmussen said.

The building's first-floor environmental education center will indirectly improve water quality by teaching the public about how human activity on land affects the health of the 28-mile-long bay. A large, three-dimensional model of the bay and its watershed will serve as the primary education tool. In addition, cylindrical water tanks will provide visitors with two different views of the bay's ecosystem, one healthy and the other polluted.

The public will have access to fourth-floor meeting rooms and a library containing scientific and historical documents about Buzzards Bay. Coalition staff will occupy the second and third floors. A laboratory on the first floor will support the Baywatchers water quality monitoring program.

The $4 million project is being funded by a mix of public and private funds, Rasmussen said.

Most of the building's green elements are designed to reduce energy use, he said. Foam insulated walls, double-glazed windows, and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems will result in the building requiring only 65 percent of the electricity needed for a building of the same size constructed to the state Building Code.

South-facing solar panels installed on the roof will provide approximately 8 percent of the building's total electricity needs. The coalition aims to run the building without using fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. To do so, they plan to buy renewable energy sourced electricity from NStar, Rasmussen said.

In keeping with the theme of reuse, the building's hardwood flooring will be made from southern yellow pine support beams salvaged from the basement.

"It's exciting seeing an 1830s building become a green building," said Bill Reich of W.W. Reich, a Cape Cod construction and management firm. "It's definitely a unique experience."

With a membership base extending from Westport to Woods Hole, Rasmussen said it was difficult to decide the location for the coalition's first permanent home. The group is currently renting space on Belleville Avenue in the city's North End and also operates a seasonal office in Woods Hole.

The coalition's board of directors chose downtown New Bedford for the new headquarters because "it is the region's only city and is located where most of the bay's largest problems span from, the area from Westport to Wareham," Rasmussen said.

Those problems are suburban sprawl and nitrogen pollution, which have contributed to a loss of open space and to poor water quality that has diminished the bay scallop population.

The location in the city's Waterfront Historic District should also provide high visibility that Rasmussen hopes will translate into increased awareness of the coalition and its mission.

Mayor Scott W. Lang said he is very supportive of the project since it meets a variety of city objectives such as historic preservation, environmental education and sustainable design.

"It's the best of all possible worlds," he said.

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090914/NEWS/909140315#STS=fzla0tz3.jof

09-19-2009, 06:59 PM
Downtown New Bedford streets sparkling PBN


09-20-2009, 07:39 AM
Downtown New Bedford streets sparkling PBN


This is an awesome program. It's good to see these guys all pitching in. Thanks for sharing the story.

09-29-2009, 10:20 AM
Kind of exciting news about the station proposal. I knew it was going to be intermodal, but I didn't expect much more than a platform with pullout area for buses only. It seems as if this is going to be a real station. I also like that it's going to get started by next fall. A $71.5 Million dollar station (and connecting pedestrian/bike bridge) sounds like a pretty big deal for New Bedford.

I can't wait to see a rendering.

Proposed rail station aims to reconnect city to waterfront

By Brian Boyd
September 29, 2009 12:00 AM

TAUNTON ? A proposed commuter rail station off Route 18 would become the new home of the Greater New Bedford Career Center, as well as a catalyst for private development in the neighborhood, according to state and city officials.

Kristina Egan, the manager of South Coast Rail, offered details Monday of the proposed Whale's Tooth Station during a meeting of the Southeastern Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization.

State officials have applied for $71.4 million in federal stimulus money for the station proposal, which is a piece of the larger, $1.4 billion plan to extend commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River.

"We have a vision of making this really beautiful and reconnecting the city with the waterfront," Egan told members of the planning organization.

The proposal calls for an intermodal transit station at Whale's Tooth, which would tie the proposed rail service with existing shuttles, buses, and ferries. The building would be completed in 2012.

The plans include a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting the station with the neighborhoods on the other side of Route 18, near Clasky Common Park, as well as the reconstruction of four deteriorated railroad bridges... (continued)

Full Story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090929/NEWS/909290335

10-11-2009, 01:27 PM
In this morning's Standard Times there was a pretty good article regarding Urban Planning in general (obviously with its effects specifically on New Bedford being the primary subject) and changing trends. While it was mostly regarding situations in the city itself, the general theme should interest those elsewhere too. Anyway, here it is:

Jack Spillane: A New Bedford history lesson: Building a better city can be tricky
October 11, 2009 12:00 AM
Jack Spillane:

A New Bedford history lesson: Building a better city can be tricky

No one knows old New Bedford like the folks at Spinner Publications.

And once those folks have shown you old New Bedford, it's hard to come away thinking that the city has changed for the better since the great "urban renewal" wave of the 1950s and '60s.

Last Thursday night, Joe Thomas and Jay Avila of Spinner provided a good look at old New Bedford to a gathering of history buffs at the First Baptist Church. The occasion was the annual meeting of the New Bedford Preservation Society.

The Spinner program showed New Bedford before, during and after the urban renewal wave of the post-war era.

First, photos of intact, wood-framed neighborhoods, big houses and cottages, factories and storefronts could be seen built tightly on top of each other in the pre-suburban styles. Then, there were pictures of cranes taking those same houses down. Finally, they showed photos of large swaths of desolate-looking, open land as the highway of progress cut its way through the heart of a city.

Thomas and Avila showed it by means of Spinner's wonderful black-and-white slides, but also through a 1964 U.S. Department of Commerce newsreel called "Rising Tide."

The film, in grainy black and white, was commissioned by something called the Area Redevelopment Administration was narrated by the legendary newsman Chet Huntley, of all people.

And I've got to tell you, I was particularly unnerved when Huntley, an authority figure to anyone like me who grew up in the Sixties, spoke in his serious baritone of the wise plans of New Bedford "movers and shakers" to modernize their city.

The redevelopment authority and economic development types, all with their dark suits and skinny black ties (the best and brightest of the New Bedford of the day) were shown in the photos. Utterly convinced, they were, that progress for this city meant demolishing the old waterfront neighborhoods of South Central to build Route 18. Ditto for some 150 blocks around the old Weld Square to make way for the interchange between Interstate 195 and Route 18.

The black-and-white photos showed these New Bedford leaders pointing with pride to their plans to demolish blocks and blocks of waterfront warehouses and rooming houses, bank buildings and churches, commercial blocks and tenements.

The idea, Thomas said, was that with the textile mills gone and the garment factories on their way out, New Bedford needed to expand its one remaining successful industry: fishing. The goal was to transport fresh fish and scallops more quickly to market by trucking them out on a new superhighway.

"The intent was to remake the waterfront," he said.

Amazingly, the original redevelopment plan called for demolition of the Custom House and the bank building where Freestone's is now located in order to run the highway a block west of the whaling museum.

At the last minute, the museum persuaded the planners to build the highway closer to the water, and the city was saved that catastrophe.

Imagine it.

In another case, citizens, as a weekend approached, obtained a court order to stop demolition of the old Rotch Counting House, located roughly where Route 18 now sits just west of the Wharfinger Building. The urban renewers then took the building down on Sunday before the court order could take effect on Monday.

Hindsight is easier than foresight, of course, but Thomas believes the planners of the day could have made the city road system better without the wholesale demolition of old New Bedford.

"They could have improved the roads without doing all this," he said, noting that the Sixties' thinking was to take down almost everything, believing that most everything new was better than most everything old.

So United Front's plain block-construction would be better than the run-down Greek Revival and two- and three-family colonials they would replace.

Now, the interstate highway system was bound to come to New Bedford and other urban settings in the years following World War II. It wasn't going to be stopped in this city any more than it was going to be stopped anywhere else.

But we now know that urban renewal often ended up killing whole sections of cities like New Bedford, making previously vibrant, if poverty-stricken, neighborhoods into no-man's lands.

Boston, in the past two decades, has spent billions and billions of dollars knitting its urban neighborhoods back together by putting the "Big Dig" Central Artery underground.

New Bedford, will have no such grand solution; the most it can hope is that somehow Route 18 can be reconfigured in a way that once again connects the city to its own waterfront. The best it can hope for is that contemporary planning doesn't soon make Coggeshall Street an urban traffic nightmare as the new Market Basket mall and other development goes in.

As Thomas and Avila showed their powerful pictures of the old New Bedford, you couldn't help but be sad.

Joe Thomas is not some sort of Pollyanna about the old New Bedford.

He acknowledged that many of the old neighborhoods were desperately poor. People thought of urban renewal as progress, as making blighted things better, he noted.

But today, new urban planners tell us that the same Route 18 for which Water, South First and South Second streets were all eliminated should now be knit back to the waterfront.

Urban planning, we now realize, is a tricky business. The best intended plans can end up replacing problematic neighborhoods with even worse ones. And what's thought to be progress in one decade can end up being an embarrassment in future ones.

New Bedford now is at the cusp of its greatest redevelopment since the post-war era. We can only hope that this time the best-laid plans, the best intended plans, don't once again lead the city astray.

Poor New Bedford has been decades trying to recover from its last bout with an urban renewal plan that came promising to lead the way to prosperity.

Contact Jack Spillane at jspillane@s-t.com

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091011/NEWS/910110359

10-21-2009, 11:10 AM
$30 million Regency tower rebuild to start in 3 months.

http://img01.imagefra.me/img/img01/2/10/21/f_xd3vpwf1m_7e2a3bb.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

October 21, 2009 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Work on a $30 million rehabilitation of the Regency Tower could begin within three months if the project's developers are awarded a state tax credit in the next several weeks.

The developers are expecting a decision by early November on the tax credit, which is the final piece needed to complete the project's financing, according to Patrick Lee, principal with Trinity Financial, the Boston-based development company behind the project.

Reconstruction could start about two months after that, Lee said.

Lee was one of about two dozen people who gathered Tuesday at the 16-story building to celebrate the project and what it could mean for the ongoing revitalization of downtown New Bedford.

Attendees were treated to breathtaking views of the city and Buzzards Bay from windows that lined the 15th-floor apartment where a press conference was held.

"The cost of housing is a real constraint to getting people to move here," Rep. Barney Frank said at Tuesday's press conference. "So things we can do like this to preserve housing, to keep it more affordable, are really very important."

Regency Tower, located at 800 Pleasant St., was built in 1988 as a luxury apartment complex but deteriorated over the years. Today, more than 90 of the building's 123 units are vacant.

MassHousing foreclosed on the property in 2005 and then, in 2008, selected Trinity Financial's proposal from a number of bids.

"It struck me that you rarely get the second chance to do the right thing," said Thomas Gleason, executive director of MassHousing. "We have an opportunity to set this building to right. ... We need to take this property and bring it back to life."

Trinity plans a significant overhaul of the building that will include conversion of underused commercial space into apartments, replacement of parts of the facade and replacement of the building's roof, according to a release.

The number of units will be increased to 129, of which 25 percent will be reserved for families with incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income ? about $37,000 for a family of four, the release stated.

Rents for the building's apartments, which will be primarily one- and two-bedroom units, will range from $625 to $800 for the affordable units to $900 and up for the market-rate apartments, according to the release.

The total capital investment in the project will be about $30 million, of which hard construction costs are expected to account for about $20 million, according to Mayor Scott W. Lang.

Financing for the project has been secured from a number of sources, including MassHousing, which has committed to a $15 million construction loan, and Massachusetts Housing Partnership, which has committed to first mortgage financing of $6.8 million, according to a release.

The city of New Bedford has committed $200,000 as a local match, the release stated.

"It certainly is going to be a challenge," said Rep. Stephen Canessa, D-New Bedford. "I don't think anyone's trying to hide that fact ... (but) it's another step in the right direction in terms of revitalizing downtown."

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091021/NEWS/910210308/1011/TOWN10

10-22-2009, 09:52 AM
nice view

11-08-2009, 08:23 AM
New Bedford emerging as cleantech leader

http://img01.imagefra.me/img/img01/2/11/8/f_fr81nld5cm_fe33a10.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)
Photo by David White/courtesy Konarka An employee at work in the control room at Konarka's New Bedford plant, the former site of Polaroid.

November 08, 2009 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Efforts by city officials to position the city as a "cleantech" hub have started to pay off, and many industry experts say the city could see a burst of economic activity over the next several years.

"Is there going to be a 1,500-person, thin-film manufacturing facility in New Bedford tomorrow? No," said John DeVillars, a partner at Blue Wave Strategies, an advisory company to renewable energy projects.

"Can New Bedford, over the course of several years, develop a cleantech economy that employs several thousand of its citizens?" he asked. "I believe it can."

The city first zeroed in on the economic potential of the cleantech industry several years ago, said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

Cleantech is a broad term that covers a range of emerging industries and technologies related to alternative or renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"We know that our traditional manufacturing base will continue to decline," Morrissey said. "We are acting right now to stem those losses we know are coming."

Cleantech was one of several industries city officials identified that matched up well with New Bedford's assets, including its geographic location and its existing work force, and that had considerable support from private investors and the government, according to Morrissey.

Venture capitalists have invested about $8.7 billion into energy-related startups in the U.S. since 2006, a trend that could continue over the next several years, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has pledged to invest $150 billion in energy technology over the next 10 years, which the administration says could create 5 million jobs, according to the AP.

Energy ? a $6 trillion industry worldwide ? will need to be completely transformed over the next several decades as existing technologies are replaced with cleaner alternatives, according to Nick d'Arbeloff, president of the New England Clean Energy Council, an organization aimed at accelerating New England's green economy.

Entrepreneurs with good ideas are leading the charge to create those alternative technologies.

"There's enough data that clearly supports this is a growth sector that will continue to be a growth sector over the long term," said Morrissey. "This is not a bubble."

The city developed a plan to attract cleantech companies that included applying for government-funded renewable energy projects and aggressively pursuing individual companies, according to Morrissey.

Morrissey said he also focused on meeting and developing relationships with state officials who could steer potential leads toward the city.

Cleantech is still a nascent industry in many ways, industry experts say the city's efforts are already bearing fruit, both in actual job creation and in building the city's reputation as a welcoming business environment.

"I really do think there isn't a city in the state that has a clearer vision or more concentrated focus on this area than New Bedford," DeVillars said. "Ultimately, that's the key to turning good intentions into meaningful results."

n n

In New Bedford, there are more than a dozen companies that fall under the broad umbrella of cleantech; in total, those companies employ a couple hundred people, Morrissey said.

However, the number of jobs is not the yardstick by which New Bedford is measuring its progress now, he said.

"There are very few communities in this country that can boast about thousands of cleantech jobs right now," said Morrissey. "We're not talking about a sector that's frankly mature enough yet."

Instead, Morrissey points to companies that have chosen to locate in New Bedford, such as Ze-Gen and Konarka, or existing companies that have moved into renewable energy, such as Beaumont Solar, as examples of the city's early success.

In 2007, Ze-Gen, which was founded in 2004, needed a place to build its first pilot demonstration facility, a small-scale plant the company could use to test its technology.

Ze-Gen has developed a gasification technology that uses liquid metal to convert waste into synthesis gas, or syngas; syngas can be used in the same way as natural gas.

Ze-Gen settled on New Bedford based on, in part, the city's willingness to work with the company and to move at a speed that worked for Ze-Gen, said Bill Davis, the company's chief executive officer.

"New Bedford understood I didn't want to wait a year to get permits," he said. "We got permitted to build our first facility in eight months ... There wasn't any kind of pause."

Ze-Gen is now looking for a site to build its first commercial plant and is considering a number of locations in New Bedford, according to Gideon Gradman, the company's vice president of corporate development.

Konarka, which manufactures Power Plastic, a photovoltaic material, located in New Bedford even more recently.

The company, founded in 2001, was ramping up its small pilot facility in Lowell in 2006 and 2007 when it became aware of the former Polaroid facility in New Bedford.

The equipment plant, which was last operated by MultiLayer Coating Technologies LLC, was ideally suited for what Konarka was trying to do, according to Rick Hess, the company's president.

At the end of 2007, the company decided to purchase the plant's equipment and lease the facility; earlier this year, Konarka bought the facility as well.

Perhaps even more important than the building and equipment, however, was the available workforce, Hess said.

"It provided people who knew how to operate the building, the facility and the equipment," he said. "It's something we would have had to build out piece by piece, person by person."

Konarka initially hired 12 of the people who had been working in the plant for the former owners, and there are now about 20 people working in the facility.

As Konarka continues to grow, so do the possibilities of locating more than just manufacturing operations at the New Bedford site, including the company's sales applications group as well as some of its researchers, said Hess.

"It is a natural growth process," he said. "Even if companies do locate there originally for the manufacturing capability and workforce, that will foster the growth of all areas of the business."

Meanwhile, Beaumont Solar is an example of an existing company that has moved into the cleantech space in order to survive.

When Phil Cavallo bought Beaumont Signs about four years ago, the company's revenues came solely from signs. The sign business took a downturn in early 2008, which prompted Cavallo to shift gears into solar installation.

By expanding the company into renewable energy, Cavallo was able to keep his original employees as well as hire some additional workers; he estimates he's grown from about 11 full-time equivalent positions to 21 employees over the past two years, although he notes that many of his current employees work part-time.

"We still do signs," said Cavallo. "What we were able to do is retool the talent that we have, use the existing skills and infrastructure to support a parallel business in renewable energy.

n n

According to city and industry officials, New Bedford's early and aggressive focus on attracting cleantech companies has put the city in excellent position to attract more investment.

However, the city and the state face stiff competition in the race to become a cleantech hub, said Dan Rafferty, vice president for business development for Natural Currents New England, a tidal energy company with office space in the city's Quest Center.

"If New Bedford really wants to keep its early lead, or its potential early lead, we're all going to have to figure out how to make it happen," he said.

The city has recently formed a renewable energy task force made up of representatives from local cleantech companies, including Davis, Hess and Cavallo.

The plan is for task force members to leverage their own networks of contacts and to work with state and national officials in order to develop a cluster of cleantech companies.

"It won't take too much effort to get it to the tipping point where enough of a cluster has formed," said Davis, who said he thinks the city will see increased development over the next six months to four years.

Companies benefit from being near similar companies: clusters promote innovation and make it easier to attract investment, according to industry experts.

Once a cluster appears, it creates a snowball effect, with one company attracting another company which attracts five more companies and so on, according to industry experts.

"New Bedford really does have a very powerful opportunity to grow a microcluster," said d'Arbeloff of the Clean Energy Council.

"It's got available facilities that it can offer to emerging companies at the right price point. ... And it's got a talented labor poll that can be tapped to staff these factories," he said.

One project that could increase New Bedford's chances of attracting offshore and ocean energy companies is a plan to build a maritime renewable facility on the city's waterfront.

The facility would allow New Bedford to host offshore projects, including wind farms or tidal energy projects, according to Morrissey.

The city's Harbor Development Commission has submitted an application under the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant program for funding for the project.

According to Ian Bowles, state secretary for energy and environmental affairs, offshore wind is likely to become a very significant growth industry for the state.

The state is very interested in bringing to Massachusetts any potential jobs from Cape Wind, a proposed project to build the country's first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, according to Bowles.

"New Bedford has a lot of existing infrastructure in place and may well be able to proceed with a project like that without needing to have major new infrastructure put in place," said Bowles. "I think New Bedford is probably best positioned among all the ports."

link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091108/NEWS/911080310
(more photos on the website)

11-19-2009, 05:24 PM
Just a photo I took with my phone today while going to the bank in downtown, NB.....they were hanging the holiday decorations on the lamp posts.


11-20-2009, 01:26 PM
Sweet! Thanks for sharing. I would love to see that surface lot gone!

11-20-2009, 04:28 PM
A nice 18-22 story office building would fit in that are nicely! Just the right scale...

11-20-2009, 06:07 PM
A nice 18-22 story office building would fit in that are nicely! Just the right scale...

Agreed. It would fit in perfectly. the Regency is 16. It's good to dream.

11-29-2009, 11:09 AM
Well, the final renderings have been posted for the United Front neighborhood redesign but they leave a lot to be desired. First, the subsidized housing portion looks like a modern take on typical older housing projects. There's too much "front yard" space that, like any project, will be trash strewn and desolate. The renderings are WAY too bright and cheery to resemble the reality of what's being built here. It looks looks generic, suburban (this is only a short distance to the center of the city), and just plain crappy. However, I wouldn't expect anything different from a public housing project (for those who don't know, probably the worst in the city... home to the United Front gang).

The project is twofold. As the images show, it will rebuild an aging public housing stock that is in desperate need of disrepair. What it doesn't show is the most important part of the project... the rebuilding of the street grid. The biggest fail (among many fails) with United Front is that it did away with the street grid and just built an expansive project with no streets (take a look at United Front in Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&q=united+front+homes+new+bedford&fb=1&gl=us&hq=united+front+homes&hnear=new+bedford&cid=0,0,870751976735775261&ei=CacSS-SCG4LGlAe2isSVBA&ved=0CAgQnwIwAA&ll=41.635516,-70.934719&spn=0.002887,0.006899&t=h&z=17 ) but instead, a grid of walkways that are desolate, and quite frankly, scary. The renderings don't show the redrawing of the grid. Despite the crappy suburban architecture, the street grid is going to be restored. You can look at the above map and see what's going to be reconnected: Elm, Morgan, Ash and Middle will be put back together by this project which is good. By dividing up these projects and rebuilding a grid, it leaves the potential for improvement. It's clear that what exists currently is the worst project in the city (perhaps in the region).

I would like to see a render of the new project in relation to a redrawn grid, but I guess I'll have to wait. Construction is set to start this month.

The story:
Renovation will construct new housing, reconnect United Front to street grid

http://img38.imagefra.me/img/img38/1/11/29/f_1egwu5ifug5m_a510eca.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

November 29, 2009 12:00 AM

Construction could start by the end of the year on a long-planned, multimillion-dollar renovation of New Bedford's United Front Homes that aims to reconnect the West End development to the surrounding community.

The project's scope is ambitious: five existing buildings will be demolished; sections of eight additional buildings will be taken down; and 35 housing units will be constructed.

Finally, in one of the project's biggest changes, streets will be built across the 12-acre parcel to reconnect it to the city's street grid.

"I think that the key on reconfiguring the project is to turn it from a compound into a neighborhood," Mayor Scott W. Lang said. "Reconnect it to the immediate neighborhood ... so that it becomes something that people look to as a neighborhood within the city."

United Front Homes was built in the early 1970s after a group of city residents banded together to address the need they saw for affordable housing in the city's West End.

The residents formed the United Front Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that has had an ownership role in the housing development since its inception.

The original design of United Front ? a number of apartment buildings grouped around a community center and other open spaces ? was almost experimental at the time, said Donald Gomes, vice president of UFDC's board of directors.... Full Story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091129/NEWS/911290339

more renderings and photos of the existing project in the link to the rest of the story

The interesting thing is that when this begins this month and the Intermodal station begins construction near downtown within the next two months it will mean that New Bedford has about five major construction projects actually underway (Waterfront Hotel, Buzzards Bay building, United Front, mixed-use at Fairhaven Mills site including office/ residential and retail, Rail Station and Veteren's Housing in the North End). Not bad for a struggling city even if 2 of them are public projects.

Ron Newman
11-29-2009, 11:24 AM
Why are houses built just 35 years ago in such disrepair as to require demolition? Much older buildings in downtown NB are still solidly standing and in active use.

Are the new front yards significantly larger than those of older wooden housing stock in the same neighborhood?

11-29-2009, 07:26 PM
^The disrepair is probably due to the fact that it's a poorly maintained public housing project that was cheaply built in the first place. The residents (for the most part) are getting a free or highly subsidized ride and just plain don't care about upkeep while the people who own properties in town tend to care more for their own property as they have something at stake.

The new front yards are much larger than what typical homes in the area have. In fact, this area is relatively high density. In comparison to the existing United Front project, I would say the new front yards are larger. However, in all fairness, the existing project has large parking lots in the front (abutting the streets) and large backyards/shared space in the rear.

I'll go ahead and say that the new project is progress over the existing one, but that's not saying much and it's not nearly as good as it could be. The reconnection of the street grid is about the best thing that's happening here as it can really contribute to the improvement in the immediate vicinity of this project (it's nice not far at allfrom United Front).

11-29-2009, 08:40 PM
first - any rendering looks a lot better than what is actually built in new england. only renderings of projects in places like miami even remotely resemble the actual projects when built. But, imagine the reaction of public officials if they were shown a project on a treeless street with trash floating around in the winter. I realize this is stuff people probably already know, but I am restating it because I too for a while used to complain about how crappy actual development looks compared to renderings, and this is the only conclusion I could come up with. The drawings have probably been used in a pitch to the local community or to get federal aid or something.

Also, I agree it looks too suburban. At first I was going to say I liked it (compared to other housing projects, especially) but then when I read it was close to the city center I reconsidered. I know what your mean about the trashy front yards. in the summer (and perhaps the winter also) there will be plastic swimming pools, abandoned kids bikes, jump ropes and skateboards and other 'debris' hanging out. It is unsightly. I think what the city should concentrate on is more public space, and less private front yards, because in an area like this, it sounds like that may be the only way to enforce some cleanliness.

11-29-2009, 08:49 PM
^You're right about the finished product not matching the rendering. It never happens. I'm guessing that this rendering is so colorful and bright so it could be used to seamlessly move those project dwellers out of their units so it could be rebuilt. Think about it, everyone of those people probably dreams about having a colonial home in the suburbs. This rendering makes it appear that the city is giving them exactly what they dream of. If I were in their shoes, I'd be thrilled about the idea of it (the reality is a different story all together). I just think that the "suburban" urban housing project has been done before and has never worked.

This project is too close to the city center for it to be this suburban looking. It's not IN the city center, but it's only about 8 or 9 blocks away which is close. If they wanted the open space, they could have rebuilt the street grid (as they're going to do), and built the project much higher density (wall to wall, hugging the street- even keeping the same generic architectural theme if they wanted... one section is row house and looks ok if it were closer to the street) and left either half or probably even a whole newly formed block as a nice public park (they could use a little one here). It would get a heck of a lot more use than the tiny "yards." But yeah, I'm just waiting for the plastic pools and uncut grass. This is a real dark spot in an otherwise decent urban neighborhood.

Anyway, it's a housing project so I guess I shouldn't expect too much. The redoing of a grid here is enough for me to be happy about because it leaves the potential for it to be filled in the future with something a bit better.

11-29-2009, 10:17 PM
I can only imagine the decision to include yards like this is linked to research studies that conclude lack of definable personal space in larger urban housing projects (think chicago) is what has led to so many problems in those places. But then again, I don't know if this could be ameliorated or not by the type of park that I suggested and you agreed with (I think we were saying the same thing, anyway). Sometimes parks are areas for trouble too.

I think the best idea is to integrate section 8 with other types of housing. there should be no 'project' anywhere in the country. Developers are often times given density bonuses for including affordable housing units (or subsidized units) in their projects, and this is the right approach I think. A redeveloped project is still just a pig with lipstick.

projects from china to maine are all disgusting failures.

11-30-2009, 09:45 PM
The design looks pretty standard Hope VI. This is what you get when you mix government planning, value engineering, and New Urbanism.

Ron Newman
12-01-2009, 12:11 PM
A redeveloped project is still just a pig with lipstick

In Boston, Harbor Point and Mission Main came out of redevelopment pretty well.

12-04-2009, 10:36 AM
Nothing big today, but these are cool construction/renovation photos of the Rose Alley Ale House on Front Street (taken from their facebook page). RAAH opened last fall and is one of the best bars in New Bedford now featuring two bars of craft beers, live music, harbor views and great pub grub. It's in one of the city's most historic buildings which is why the renovation was cool to watch.

some samples from the page:

http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/1/12/4/f_uiw1um_078136c.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

Exterior (They build an addition on the right side to nearly double the size of the building).
http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/1/12/4/f_uiw1vm_848ec34.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

The facebook pics: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2023392&id=1472037254

The official site: http://www.drinkrosealley.com/index.htm

12-04-2009, 05:08 PM
Went there a couple weeks ago ... lipstick on a pig. It's a New Bedford shitbox with the same dirtbag clientele as every other place in town. You still pay $7 for a beer but it no longer comes with a complimentary eightball.

12-04-2009, 06:09 PM
^Oh Come on, it's not that bad. The beer selection is great (a pretty diverse lineup) and the crowd isn't bad. If you want to see a dirtbag clientele, check out the National Club or Fins around the corner (you can get your eightball there). What more would you expect out of a pub in a small port city? It's just fine for what it is.

12-04-2009, 06:57 PM
Perhaps it was just the night I was in there but it was a trashy crowd, nearly on par with that of the Tam. It didn't help that they didn't have Stella and the stooge behind the bar retorted that they had a special on some Dogcrap Maple Syrup "IPA" which turned out to be complete trash, not to mention grossly overpriced. I just don't see the appeal in drinking with a bunch of fist pumping wannabe beer connoisseurs from ZooMass-Lite. I should note I later dined at the new Airport Grill on that same evening. It wasn't up to the average quality of Boston, but for what it is it was quite passable and the crowd was decent as well.

12-04-2009, 09:51 PM
In any of the small cities in Eastern Mass. you're bound to run into some of that trashy crowd. In fact, you get plenty of it in and around the bars on Lansdowne or Faneuil Hall too. New Bedford is no exception and Rose Alley has its nights. I'm no fan of Stella, but whenever I've been to Rose Alley, they've been pushing the Dogfishead crap (I hate it too... I go downstairs and get a large bottle of Fin Du Monde from Unibroue... 9%abv and $9 with a glass) too. The Dogfishead is grossly overpriced. I think it's junk.

I've been on rough nights (the "good" crowds rotate primarily 4 bars downtown... RAAH, Hibernia, Cork, and The Pour Farm) and also on good nights. I guess it's just a matter of luck (and knowing where else to go if it sucks). For a small city nightlife, I think it's alright and it's getting better. It's not Newport, nor will it ever be. It won't be Providence either (though Providence has some crowds I would judge as trashier), but it's not so bad (I'd take New Bedford over a good bunch of cities in New England for nightlife). The Wannabe "beer connoisseurs" is an unfortunate annoyance. The Pour Farm up the street has better prices, a good selection, and a better crowd (founded by brewers) but no food. It doesn't have the feel of people trying too hard like RAAH does.

Never been to the airport grill (old or new) and you're the first person I've heard even mention it. I'm glad it was OK. The best restaurant, hands down, (and crowd for that matter) in New Bedford is the Fresca Grill ( http://www.frescagrill.com/ ). Check it out when you're down there. Reasonably priced and relatively inventive. Waterfront Grille is a close second but it has some of the annoying "cliche" New Bedford types occasionally. I haven't been to Candleworks in forever, but found it to be highly overrated.

12-07-2009, 02:13 PM
The Airport Grille seems to be busy 7 days a week, it became popular very quickly. I have only been to the "new one" 2 times but I work nearby and see the crowds in the parking lot and inside the terminal.

12-18-2009, 01:49 PM
Another developer locks up a second potential casino site just south of Downtown at the Canon Street Power Station (NStar). These plans are impressive and if NB gets a casino, this has to be the one. Here's an article from the Standard Times: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091218/NEWS/912180319 .

The company is KG Urban Enterprises and they have an IMPRESSIVE slide show with every sort of rendering you can imagine. The slide show is here: http://kgurbanenterprises.com/cannon_street_show/cannon_street_station.htm

Here are some select images for those who don't want to check the link:

This image shows where the casino site is relative to the historic district:
http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_1gir3b3o6vdm_a2a70a4.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

a view from downtown (Zeiterion area):
http://img39.imagefra.me/img/img39/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_48ale4nbum_440b00c.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

From the South:
http://img39.imagefra.me/img/img39/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_tjous545tpam_13a19be.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

A view of the waterfront work:
http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_1kcf2t3tgsqm_55fc051.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

A view of the Exhibit Hall and Ped. Bridge:
http://img38.imagefra.me/img/img38/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_rq5lnek5gsbm_b3ec41b.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

Street level view of the entrance and renovated power plant:
http://img38.imagefra.me/img/img38/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_17qpr4efdvdm_cda22f9.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

A view of the floor inside the power plant's main structure:
http://img38.imagefra.me/img/img38/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_162eeqa89elm_bd0469e.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

An interior view of an addition to the plant:
http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_j9m96exhxgcm_3b6f344.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

A view from the Whaling District:
http://img38.imagefra.me/img/img38/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_1d2uvpq6ardm_d18d21a.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

Night view from the Whaling District:
http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_16ame4phg4am_dab5a6b.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

Harborwalk Portion:
http://img39.imagefra.me/img/img39/2/12/18/jfoahs04/f_ma6ce1oliom_e60acca.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

I have to say, I'm VERY impressed. From the renovation of the old power plant to the harborwalk and effort to incorporate the existing historic area by making seamless connections, this looks very promising. More than that, it's a truly urban project.

Of course, this hinges on the state passing casino legislation AND selecting this company as one of 3 (I believe the current plan is to allow 3 casinos) in the whole state to build. That is, to say the least, a long shot. However, I was skeptical of the casino plans but this looks like it can really be beneficial to the city.

Ron Newman
12-18-2009, 03:22 PM
There's got to be a better use for a space like that than a casino. How about a market?

12-18-2009, 09:58 PM
There's got to be a better use for a space like that than a casino. How about a market?

The site was where they originally planned to put the Aquarium. Budget restraints shrunk the project and it was opened in a smaller package (but still nice) on Union St. downtown.

Personally, I think the site would be great for some expansion of the seaport (it's being considered and they've even applied for $50+ million in grants). However, nothing seems to be close to reality at this point.

A casino isn't my favorite option, but that plan is pretty good.

Dr. Donald A. Kadlec
12-19-2009, 08:32 AM
The Casino not only beautifies the downtown area, but guarantees 4,000 permanent jobs.
Anyone that believes a "MARKET", or an "AQUARIUM"; could do more for New Bedford is not very informed on economics !!! The KG Project is outstanding. It will totally bring life back to the downtown, increase the the tax base income by mountains, and could also help all the small local downtown businesses that are starving at this point and can't hold onto a "DREAM' if the politicians don't get moving. This is a golden opportunity for New Bedford to make a glorious comeback and draw the tourists back. Keep sitting on your hands and contemplate small ideas; and you certainly will be the looser....

Ron Newman
12-19-2009, 09:27 AM
Casinos help local businesses? Usually they destroy them. Does New Bedford want to become Atlantic City?

12-19-2009, 01:03 PM
Wow, i must say that i like it alot!

If there has to be casinos in Mass, I would much prefer this, than building a new resort type deal on a field in Middlebury.

12-19-2009, 09:30 PM
The Casino not only beautifies the downtown area, but guarantees 4,000 permanent jobs.
Anyone that believes a "MARKET", or an "AQUARIUM"; could do more for New Bedford is not very informed on economics !!! The KG Project is outstanding. It will totally bring life back to the downtown, increase the the tax base income by mountains, and could also help all the small local downtown businesses that are starving at this point and can't hold onto a "DREAM' if the politicians don't get moving. This is a golden opportunity for New Bedford to make a glorious comeback and draw the tourists back. Keep sitting on your hands and contemplate small ideas; and you certainly will be the looser....

I believe a market or aquarium would do more for New Bedford in terms of livability (everyone forgets, the aquarium exists, just in a smaller form on Union Street-- the Ocean Explorium) and aesthetics. I think that for prospective residents (and even some general tourists), those things are far more attractive than a casino. Furthermore, the casino will bring a negative aspect that those other attractions wouldn't bring. Most people consider a market or an aquarium a positive thing to live around while casinos have a negative stigma that's far from unfounded.

I don't know that the Casino "beautifies" the downtown area either. It cleans up and revitalizes a stretch of harbor south of the downtown area. Aesthetically, it does little for the downtown area other than offer a view of the two towers (something I assume historic district residents won't be too fond of). What it DOES do is clean up an area and bring life to an area that is currently largely unused.

Personally, I haven't been thrilled with the idea of casinos. You are correct to point out that they do have an apparent immediate economic boost (i.e. taxable revenue), but Ron pointed out that they often take away from local businesses. The other casino proposal for the Hicks-Logan area (along I-195 north of downtown) terrifies me because of these reasons. It is planned to be a self-contained resort casino. It's like a city within a city. Furthermore, it's between downtown and the primary traffic source (I-195) which means that no one will travel into town to get to the casino. It essentially cuts off traffic from downtown New Bedford. Finally, it makes no effort to ingrain itself into the urban fabric of the area (including downtown) which means that it will draw AWAY from the city center and not enhance it.

This proposal doesn't do that. It's not the typical walled off resort. It looks like every effort was taken to have this proposal blend into the city's urban fabric. There are connections to downtown (it's RIGHT next door) and the waterfront. It's south of downtown which means traffic and people will have to travel through the center of the city to get to the casino which means more exposure for local businesses. It really appears that this developer wants something a little different than the prototypical resort casino and the renderings show a significant effort to blend the resort into the existing fabric of the city.

I don't see New Bedford following the footsteps of Atlantic City. If built, this would be the only game in town. New Bedford would hardly resemble the strip of casinos and boardwalk that exists in New Jersey. Furthermore, the Whaling District and historic downtown area are established already. Sure, I wouldn't say that they're "booming" (although they're steadily growing in popularity for tourists, residents and businesses), but they're doing well enough. This market won't change for the worse with the addition of the casino, it's already there. It can only benefit from the added traffic flow. The existence of a functioning historic core is something else that Atlantic City doesn't have. It's built around the casinos... This casino proposal is tailored to New Bedford, not the other way around.

Tying the resort into New Bedford's historic center also benefits the developer. Casinos are popping up in a lot of places. This site is further from New York and the mid-Atlantic than Foxwoods or Mohegan. These guys need something extra to draw people into their resort. Having it located adjacent to a picturesque historic seaside New England city center (with ferry service to Martha's Vineyard, and HOPEFULLY rail to Boston) is a huge selling point. I know, I know, it's New Bedford, but the marketing team will advertise it as something like Newport (which NB isn't and never will be) in order to hook people into it. I think if this comes as advertised, it can be hugely successful for both the city and the developer.

I would still prefer the $50+ Million renovation of the plant as a shipping center. The city will find out if they received that money in January. New Bedford grew by 30% as a cargo port over the past year, and continuing that growth can do more for the city's economy than any casino could. However, if that money isn't granted, the Cannon Street Station proposal looks to be a solid back up (if legislation passes, of course).

Markets are wonderful, but I think one would fail at this site (too large and a bit out of the way). I'd like to see a local produce market (seafood as well as locally farmed produce and wine, etc) somewhere downtown (like Wings Court, or Herman Melville Square) on a regular basis before dedicated indoor space is given up for that purpose. Unfortunately, I think the Bourne Counting House would have been a perfect location for a market on the first level, but it was renovated into office/retail space instead ( a good renovation).

Anyway, I like this proposal. I still prefer other means of renovating this site, but if the shipping grants don't end up in NB, I think this casino location would be great for the city. It's too close and too tied into downtown for it not to help. It certainly wouldn't have a negative impact on businesses there.

12-19-2009, 11:29 PM
Just saying, they have casinos in downtown St. Louis, and they do absolutely nothing for the urban environment. They're giant sarcophagi, swallowing people each morning and not spitting them out until late at night. There are no windows, and no outward facing retail or dining. Not even the Four Seasons hotel, which is attached, has an entrance that isn't tucked away from the street. Totally self sustaining, totally anti-urban.

01-03-2010, 08:52 PM
New ferry service to connect New Bedford and Woods Hole

By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

New Bedford officials say a new ferry service will open Monday between their city and the community of Woods Hole on Cape Cod.

Mayor Scott Lang says it's the first time such a service has been offered regularly, though a three-month pilot program was tried with some success two years ago. He said the ferry service would set up a "water highway" between the two communities.

The private Cuttyhunk Ferry Co. will provide two round-trips per day, said Jono Billings, owner and operator of the company.

Lang noted that the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology is located in New Bedford, while the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is located in Woods Hole.

"We think that by establishing the route, we'll see the synergy back and forth between Woods Hole and New Bedford," he said.

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/01/new_ferry_servi.html

And the website for the new service: http://www.nbwhferry.com/

01-07-2010, 09:18 AM
A cool Photo Tour of the Ocean Explorium from Boston.com is HERE (http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/massachusetts/galleries/ocean_explorium/). The interior renovation is fantastic.

The city was highlighted in the "Tank Away" segment on Boston.com's Travel page in December. Link to that article is HERE (http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/massachusetts/articles/2009/12/02/new_bedfords_whaling_heritage_is_well_preserved_wh ile_seafaring_still_thrives/).

01-07-2010, 02:00 PM
Forgot to add some construction updates.

The new Courthouse in Downtown Fall River:



and a shot at 65mph of the new bridge in Fall River going up:

01-07-2010, 02:28 PM
Why are Fall River's government buildings always bad knock-offs of Boston's? Their city hall is a tragic version of Boston City Hall and this is an imitation of the courthouse at Fan Pier.

01-07-2010, 10:00 PM
Why are Fall River's government buildings always bad knock-offs of Boston's? Their city hall is a tragic version of Boston City Hall and this is an imitation of the courthouse at Fan Pier.

I was wondering the same thing. It seems like Fall River imitates all of the bad construction in Boston. Beyond city hall, Fall River has a "central Artery" that still bisects the center of the city (even though, like the old South Station tunnel, a small chunk is underground). It also has a rotting, ancient, distracting upper and lower deck (route 79) like the one in Boston. Even the Braga Bridge resembles the Tobin to a degree. While I don't think the Moakley Courthouse in Boston is bad at all (in fact, from the water, it's great), this one sucks. I didn't get a picture, but it ignores the street completely with the exception of this (soon to be barren) little plaza out front. Anyway, even though I grew up nearby, I have very little love for Fall River except for the Highlands (upper and lower), Portuguese food, and some friends that still live there. It's a city that has destroyed most of the good urban roots it had in addition to being an economic black hole.

01-08-2010, 06:17 PM
Good news, but it's taken too long.

Riverside mill apartments could be ready this summer

By Brian Boyd
January 08, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Plans to transform a historic mill building on the Acushnet River into 100 market-rate apartments are moving forward after months of legal wrangling.

Developer Steve Ricciardi closed last month on the property, the former Whitman Mill No. 2 at 10 Manomet St. He will likely break ground this winter, and the new apartments could open this fall, according to Ricciardi.

City officials said the project will help save a mill building and bring welcome development to an area with much potential. The apartment building will be known as Victoria Riverside Townhouse Lofts.

More (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100108/NEWS/1080316)

01-10-2010, 09:47 AM
Cool picture of the Governor, Barney Frank and Mayor on one of the Regency's top floors discussing the $30 Million renovation taking place there:

http://img01.imagefra.me/img/img01/2/1/10/jfoahs04/f_wfn8hf0m_423c055.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

The article is all stuff we've heard before. Link is HERE (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100109/NEWS/1090336/1011/TOWN10).

01-12-2010, 06:00 PM
I was in New Bedford today (Job interview) and took some time to snap a few photos of current construction sites in town.

First, the Coalition for Buzzards Bay (http://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/Page.aspx?pid=194) headquarters renovation looks like it's coming along nicely. This building will be entirely green when completed:




(far right of this photo)

I also went by the new Marriott hotel site to see how progress is moving. To my surprise, it's moving pretty fast. Now, Half of this structure will be the renovated portion of a historic Whale Oil building but I couldn't see that side as the way was blocked. So, you're only getting the waterfront side, and not the historic side:





The new hotel sits right across from one of my favorite buildings in town, the Bourne Counting House:

01-14-2010, 06:49 PM
Interviewing for a job in New Bedford? Come on, you can do a lot better than that.

01-15-2010, 08:50 AM
Interviewing for a job in New Bedford? Come on, you can do a lot better than that.

I know, you're not the only one who had a hard time believing it. It's a city position and I know the people involved. It's actually contingent on grant money so I'm not holding my breath.

01-15-2010, 11:44 AM
Wait, someone is actually looking to hire? I thought they erased that word from the dictionary.

what is the position?

01-15-2010, 12:30 PM
Wait, someone is actually looking to hire? I thought they erased that word from the dictionary.

what is the position?

It's just an entry level position at the office of economic development. Really low level, but right now, I could use the work and it would be a good resume booster. I still don't think it'll happen. Like I said, it's contingent on grant money that they applied for and I doubt they'll get it.

01-15-2010, 04:18 PM
Well resume boosting jobs can matter as much or more than education in some instances, so I don't think you should be downplaying it...plus, that's a good place to start to build within the city.

01-16-2010, 03:16 AM
There's got to be a better use for a space like that than a casino. How about a market?

A 24 hour attraction isnt a good use of space?

Im thinking of the casino in Montreux, Switzerland, which is by the water and is very urban (and the only thing open past 6pm)

01-16-2010, 04:10 PM
Yeah, I agree with your general point ^

You can't just want a market because it looks nice, because the reality is unless public money subsidizes it (and why would it?) they usually don't work out in american cities (with a few exceptions for larger cities). Europe seems to still do quite well with the markets, but america, especially small cities like NB, seems to not do so well. a lot of cities do, however, benefit from occasional outdoors farmer's markets, and these are great because they A.) provide the same service as an indoor market, and B.) do so at the most economic cost (free or close to free) because the city just needs to allow a bunch of wagons and stands to hang out for a couple hours on a saturday. A casino would be more viable, obviously since this is planned rather than a market, and this in itself should indicate that there would be more demand for its use than something else. True urban vibrancy comes from people, adn whatever gets them in town is good (most of the time). I know casinos get a bad reputation, and I wouldn't want one in my city, but if it was struggling I would be much more open to the idea.

01-16-2010, 06:38 PM
Yeah, I agree with your general point ^

You can't just want a market because it looks nice, because the reality is unless public money subsidizes it (and why would it?) they usually don't work out in american cities (with a few exceptions for larger cities). Europe seems to still do quite well with the markets, but america, especially small cities like NB, seems to not do so well. a lot of cities do, however, benefit from occasional outdoors farmer's markets, and these are great because they A.) provide the same service as an indoor market, and B.) do so at the most economic cost (free or close to free) because the city just needs to allow a bunch of wagons and stands to hang out for a couple hours on a saturday. A casino would be more viable, obviously since this is planned rather than a market, and this in itself should indicate that there would be more demand for its use than something else. True urban vibrancy comes from people, adn whatever gets them in town is good (most of the time). I know casinos get a bad reputation, and I wouldn't want one in my city, but if it was struggling I would be much more open to the idea.

Good points, New Bedford actually has a few successful markets including an excellent one at Sid Wainer and Sons (http://www.sidwainer.com/saturdaysatsids.asp)on Saturday mornings. There are a lot of local farms in the area and of course New Bedford is the leading fishing port in the country, so there are some great markets. I still don't think the powerplant site would make a good spot for one just because it's too large and too prime of a location. I'd rather see some of the mill space elsewhere used for a big market.

New Bedford as a whole is struggling economically, but downtown isn't. The fear is that the casino would take away from downtown businesses (thus bringing the area down) rather than provide a boost. I personally believe it wouldn't have a big impact either way, but mostly leaning towards improvement. The market for businesses that's downtown is established and growing. A casino won't take away from that. The people who frequent the nicer restaurants downtown do so because they're unique. Candleworks, Waterfront Grille, Cork, etc are all successful because they're local and different. An Emeril's or Ruth's Chris may be wonderful for the elderly visiting from CT, but the people who help the businesses that are already downtown there succeed will continue to do so. I think the added traffic and the fact that the hotel will be right next to the city center will bring SOME foot traffic (the Casino developers promise to host shows at downtown's Zeiterion Theatre (http://www.zeiterion.org/)... a beautiful spot), but not tons.

In all I think the biggest benefit of having a casino is the tax dollars. New Bedford is so grant-dependent that it has difficulty producing and sustaining progress anywhere outside of downtown which really is an oasis in an otherwise struggling city.

01-16-2010, 07:31 PM
a casino doesnt seem like it would compete for downtown traffic. instead, it seems like the kind of venue that would attract new visitors who, but for the casino, would otherwise not visit the area (in addition to a few who are regulars). Bangor maine just opened a casino, with a large attached hotel, and it seems to have brought a lot of people to the area. the city is now also considering building a new civic center bigger than portland's.


also, casinos bring a lot of venue-specific traffic, like a civic center, and such people demand other spinoff services so, unlike a civic center, a casino would enliven an area with foot traffic for restaurants AND provide additional tax dollars (instead of being subsidized by them). It seems like a smart thing to do. Of course, there is the issue of bringing an unwanted "type" of people to town, but when that sort already inhabits the area, there shouldn't be too much of a problem. Don't take that the wrong way, I'm just saying NB and the surrounding area isn't some conservative suburb. The key, I think, is to make the development contingent on having the supporting economy (restuarants, clubs, bars, etc) all be built OUTSIDE of the casino, so as to embrace the community, which would in turn spur further econ development, in theory.

02-08-2010, 10:29 AM
Another historic mill set to be converted into apartments. Good news for this entire complex which really is massive:

Developers take on New Bedford mill once slated for demolition

February 08, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? A multimillion-dollar proposal to transform the Cliftex 1 mill building into rental apartments is wending its way through the city permitting process and will come before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday.

The project, if permitted and financed, will secure the future of the historic mill building, which at one time had been slated for demolition

Original Story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100208/NEWS/2080313)

02-26-2010, 08:14 AM
REAL Urban development downtown. The owner of the Catwalk Bar and Grill has pulled paperwork on "Rose Alley Townhouses." These townhouses are to be built on a parking lot on the narrow cobbled street known as Rose Alley (just behind the new Alehouse). Personally, I think this is a wonderful development. It's a small parking lot on a more quiet downtown street that wouldn't be good for businesses. Adding more residences to the area is only a good thing. I think the location would mean high demand too. No yards, No driveways, Just wall-to-wall urban town homes. The ground floor garages remind me of many residential neighborhoods in San Francisco. If this were on a main street I'd be concerned about the lack of street level interaction, but this project is on a tiny back alley that rarely sees traffic anyway so it's fine.

There hasn't been an official press release, but i DID get my hands on some renderings:

http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/2/2/26/jfoahs04/f_1ay4963w6kkm_a747e7e.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/2/2/26/jfoahs04/f_1ca3dfa13r5m_8c036cc.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

This is the location:

02-28-2010, 09:30 PM
A little positive press for NB from NBC 10, Providence/New Bedford

Businesess Find a Home in Downtown New Bedford (WJAR). (http://www2.turnto10.com/jar/news/local/article/businesses_find_home_in_downtown_new_bedford/30371/)

(video at the link)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.?Downtown New Bedford is buzzing with new businesses.

Despite tough times, some 39 new shops and restaurants have opened their doors here in the past two years.

?New Bedford for a very long time has come into recessions early, has gone very deep and has come out very, very late. That?s not what we?re seeing, exactly, this time around,? said Matt Morrissey of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

Morrissey said vacancy rates in the downtown area have dropped from 38 percent in 2007 to 16 percent today.

Part of New Bedford?s downtown area was designated as a historic district in 1997, leading private companies to invest more than $85 million in renovations.

More available by following the link at the top of the post.

Another hotel story:
Waterfront Hotel set to open on schedule (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100227/NEWS/2270333/1011/TOWN10) (June)... additional funding made possible the renovation of a historic neighboring building as part of the hotel happen ahead of schedule.

03-02-2010, 02:51 PM
I don't know why it wasn't mentioned in the article, but the city has applied for $54 Million in federal money to acquire and clean another site closer to the State Pier. If this money is awarded to NB, it will be used to turn the location into another major shipping pier.

Port's shipping business quietly taking off

By Steve Urbon
March 02, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? It was just a few years ago that not a single freighter tied up to a New Bedford pier. Today, by comparison, it is almost a traffic jam. About 28 freighters, most of them offloading produce from northern Africa, are scheduled to dock in the harbor this year, and the future is looking bright.

More (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100302/NEWS/3020329)

03-02-2010, 03:00 PM
That is fantastic news. I'm a big supporter of investing in sea/short-sea shipping. It isn't just a boost to the economy but a boost to civic pride to have a healthy shipping industry (especially for a city with a rich history of one.) It's also great for the region to have less truck traffic clogging highways. Southern Mass is a great place for a big rail-transfer station.

I'm a bit ignorant of the geography of State Pier, is it above or below the Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge?

03-02-2010, 04:34 PM
^Yeah, it's real good news. I'm all for Short-Sea shipping too. New Bedford has been talking about it for years and has actually done something to make it happen (Fall River on the other hand has all but spurned it). New Bedford really is in a prime location to be a shipping hub. It's at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal, close to the Islands and closer to Boston than the current Island shipping hubs (Hyannis and Falmouth).

The $20 Million in stimulus money that's being touted as a "victory" for the commuter rail project is actually going to benefit the shipping industry in New Bedford sooner than any potential passenger rail. It will repair bridges allowing for larger trains to travel in/out of the city faster. It's a good connection and will only help.

The State Pier is right at the intersection of Union and Route 18. Just South of the Fairhaven/NB Bridge.

Oh, and the city is working on potentially expanding the airport again. It's zoned for international trade but the runways are too short currently to really accommodate the aircraft involved with such trade. About 10 years ago, DHL wanted to use it as a hub, but neighbors opposed expansions and the noise from additional traffic. The current administration is working on opening up these discussions again. The increased sea shipping and improved freight rail will be great compliments to air trade. NB will likely never see too much passenger traffic (Cape Air will still serve the city and potentially a shuttle or two in the future, but not much else with PVD and BOS so close), but the airport is zoned for trade so why not take advantage of it?

03-02-2010, 06:34 PM
What exciting news! Good for NB.

Ron Newman
03-02-2010, 10:07 PM
The current administration is working on opening up these discussions again.

but presumably not with DHL, which has exited the US market entirely.

03-02-2010, 11:05 PM
but presumably not with DHL, which has exited the US market entirely.

No. They're working on expanding the runways in order to be more attractive as an international air shipping destination. DHL (or UPS, USPS, Fed Ex, etc) haven't been mentioned. There's no evidence that a company is even involved. It's simply a matter of working on expanding the airports capacity.

03-03-2010, 08:59 AM
They might have more luck courting a smaller air cargo carrier such as ASTAR (http://www.astaraircargo.us/services/loc-us.html), which currently flys out of both Manchester and T.F. Greene. Congestion is probably not a real issue at either of those airports, but they could provide cheaper landing/takeoff fees and combine with the sea and rail shipping aspects, NB could be quite attractive to them.

Disclaimer: I know nothing of the air logistics industry!

03-04-2010, 08:56 AM
DeLeo has just proposed 2 casinos in MA and slots at tracks. I would love to see the New Bedford one constructed (Did the fed port money get approved?) I would certainly visit every once and a while.

I much prefer the NB one also (as opposed to Middleboro), because the land has already been developed.

The port expansion would be ideal, but i wouldn't be mad at the casino either.


03-04-2010, 09:13 AM
^Thanks for the link. I don't know if one of DeLeo's proposed casino's is in New Bedford? I like the one near downtown; I just think it would add a lot to the area. It's proposed for the same site that the city wants to use as an additional shipping hub, so either one of those would be good. I'd rather see the casino there as I think it would be great to have that big of a destination right there. The Federal money hasn't been awarded yet, and the casino developers have purchased the right to the land on the condition that legislation passes and they are allowed to build. Essentially, if the legislation passes and New Bedford is a selected site for a full casino, they're going to build.

I'm not nearly as fond of the other casino proposal just off of I-195. It's designed like and island and won't bring people into the city. The tax dollars would be good, but it will do very little in terms of increasing tourism.

03-06-2010, 02:12 PM
Nothing like a late-night pizza joint after bar hopping. This one actually has a beer/wine license too which is awesome. The building is pretty and was an underutilized office before. This sits directly across from the National Club which has been a fisherman/hooker haven for as long as I've been alive. The owner of the Waterfront Grill recently purchased that and is going to turn it into a more "upscale" bar. New Bedford is quickly getting a very decent downtown nightlife selection. This will make 6 new downtown bars in the last 1.5 years. Furthermore, the pizza by the slice will be a big hit. Anywhere with late night pizza by the slice does well. Bill's in Portland, Via Via in Newport, Antonio's in Providence, etc. "Pizans" sounds dumb, but it's a welcome addition.

Rose Alley owners to open downtown restaurant

March 06, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Construction on a new lower Union Street pizza place is under way and could be complete by May, said the project's developer.

Pizans, which will be located at 29 Union St., will serve New York-style pizza by the slice along with other signature Italian dishes and salads, said Jay Lanagan, one of the restaurant's owners.

"Whatever we can do with a pizza oven, we're going to do," said Lanagan.

Lanagan is working with two partners ? Howard L. Mallowes IV and John T. Mello ? on the restaurant; the group also collaborated on Rose Alley Ale House, a Front Street bar that has been open about a year.

Full Story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100306/NEWS/3060320/1011/TOWN10)

03-09-2010, 02:20 PM
An interesting article using New Bedford as an example of how to use the arts to boost the local economy.

New Bedford?s free downtown AHA! cultural nights, supported with a $35,000 grant through the Mass Cultural Council, drew approximately 23,000 visitors in 2009. Half of these participants made purchases, spending $17 on average, according to an evaluation by UMass-Dartmouth?s Center for Policy Analysis. Because this spending bought mostly local products (as opposed to those made elsewhere) these dollars stayed in the region longer and had a sizeable multiplier effect.

Full Story (http://www.massinc.org/INCSpot/Creative-Economy-Roundtable-Shows-Economic-Development-is-Fine-Art.aspx)

03-13-2010, 10:15 AM
6 weeks into renovation at United Front, developer locks up financing


NEW BEDFORD ? The nonprofit developer behind the multimillion-dollar renovation of the United Front Homes property officially closed on the project's financing this week, according to a release.

However, Boston-based Preservation of Affordable Housing was confident enough in the financial commitments it had lined up that it kick-started construction about six weeks ago, according to Rodger Brown, a development adviser with the organization

full story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100313/NEWS/3130341/1011/TOWN10)

03-21-2010, 04:53 PM
Just stumbled across these today. I am such a sucker for this type of stuff:

This is downtown Fall River (looking South along Main St.). You can see the St. Anne's spires in the distance and the Academy Building (both still around) on the left. The image is depressing though. First, much of what you see here is lost completely (the photo was taken from the Old City Hall area which is now Gov't Center/ I-195) or marred terribly. That's one hell of an urban environment and it's long gone.

Downtown Fall River again:

Downtown New Bedford. This area is almost entirely intact. This photo shows what it could look like with continued growth. There are serious thoughts into reintroducing at least two streetcar lines in New Bedford, but the focus now is on commuter rail. It would be awesome to have streetcars downtown again.

This is one of New Bedford's theatres. It was located on Acushnet Ave in the North End but was demolished to make way for I-195. There's still another theatre that's currently serving a retail purpose near where this one was. The Orpheum (http://www.orphinc.org/) in the South End is a candidate for restoration (big interest) but it hasn't been done yet. The Zeiterion (http://zeiterion.org/), downtown is in great shape and hosts a ton of great bands, plays, ballet's, symphonies, etc. There's a market for at least one more theater in town.

Ron Newman
03-21-2010, 07:33 PM
Is that bus terminal (left side of photo #3) in the same place where today's bus terminal is?

03-21-2010, 09:21 PM
^The current one is on the opposite side of the street from where that one stood. THIS (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=new+bedford+ma&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=New+Bedford,+Bristol,+Massachusetts&gl=us&ei=SdSmS9bvLsTflgf3kpV0&ved=0CAwQ8gEwAA&ll=41.636202,-70.927091&spn=0.00328,0.006968&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=41.636202,-70.927091&panoid=yyZjFdo4HkjJYO5_JtCeoA&cbp=12,184.57,,0,-4.98) is the current view from that location. Some of the buildings have changed a bit (particularly in the foreground) but the street wall's mostly in tact.

04-12-2010, 10:28 AM
Momentum along the river' snags another developer

April 12, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Cliftex North is the latest mill in the city's Upper Harbor district to be slated for redevelopment after two Cambridge-based investors closed on the property earlier this month.

Bart Bussink and Michael DeVos purchased the Riverside Avenue mill building for $1.1 million on April 1 through their limited liability company, Boston Common Investments.

"We're excited about it," Bussink said. "We think it's a great building."

Bussink said the plan is to renovate the building for a mix of purposes ? some light commercial uses in part of the mill and between 30 and 60 residential units facing the water ? while preserving the historic character of the mill.

full story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100412/NEWS/4120304)

Great news. This one of of the complexes worth saving. It joins the Victoria Mills (Construction just began), and the Fairhaven Mills site (under construction) as another major riverside redevelopment along the river in the city's North End. Wamsutta Place (http://www.loftsatwamsuttaplace.com/) is just South of these new projects and just opened last year and is at or near 100% occupancy.

04-14-2010, 10:58 PM
The casino bill just passed the House vote and KG Urban Enterprises is really hoping to get one of the state's two casinos. They have purchased the rights to the Cannon Street Station power plant site just south of Downtown NB.

I posted some of their renderings a few months back, but they've since added more (including the following two) as well as a few videos of their proposal in their slide show which you can see here (http://www.kgurbanadvisors.com/cannon_street_station/index.htm). I REALLY hope they get one of the two bids.



04-15-2010, 07:01 AM
where is the rest of the city in that picture? I like high rises, but this one looks out of place a bit. Not saying I don't support it, but is there anything else around it? Its about 30 stories in an otherwise low rise district (unless the image is misleading).

Also, the design could use some improvement. but good for NB nonetheless.

04-15-2010, 07:08 AM
also, do you like the smoke stack look to the two high rises? I get it, but I don't think I like it from an aesthetic perspective.

04-15-2010, 09:20 AM
You have a 16 story high-rise nearby (currently undergoing a reclad) and a few 10+ story buildings close, but these are almost twice as tall as anything else nearby. The development site is JUST south of downtown. The taller buildings are on the NORTH side of downtown. I used my top-secret high-end professional editing software to give you an idea of where these buildings will be in relation to the rest of the central city:
http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/6/4/15/jfoahs04/f_152pyjmuu2nm_23f7159.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

They're quite a bit taller than anything around, but personally I don't mind them. They're narrow enough on the East and West sides, the sides facing the city and the water (intentional... so they don't block the view of the harbor that residents already have). I don't think they're too out of scale. While there are only about 6 or so buildings over 10 stories in the downtown area, there is some "height" (I use the term loosely... 16 story mixed-use towers aren't what I consider tall) to counterbalance the waterfront hotel towers. They're certainly not on an island. The city is pretty dense all around them too (New Bedford has 93,000 people living in 20 sq. mi. for a density of 4,550 people per square mile). It's a very urban area around there too. I think that the towers will work to create an interesting scale in an otherwise boring skyline. They're also abutting the downtown core, so it's not a bad spot and they certainly wouldn't be the only buildings you see poking up there.

As far as the smokestack goes, I can take it or leave it. New Bedford's a port city first and foremost. However, it does have a period of industrial importance which means there are still some industrial facilities around the city. Many (most if you include what's being renovated at the moment) have been restored and preserved for their "historical and architectural importance." Personally, I can take or leave some of them. Certainly a few are really nice (the Wamsutta mill to name one). But many are the 1800s equivalents of "megablocks" and need to go (like Fairhaven Mills which was demolished this year and is being turned into a scale development). Thankfully, New Bedford was not a real "mill city" (like Nearby Fall River) and as such grew to size long before industry took foot in the city. This means that MOST mills are a ways outside the city's core. The smokestack is intended to be a nod to the city's industrial heritage and the building's former purpose (powerplant, actually). I don't know how I feel about it. I wouldn't be sad to see it go, I don't think; but it doesn't bother me too much either. I guess I could go either way.


04-15-2010, 11:33 AM
I really hope NB gets one as well. It would be much better to redevelop and existing site such as that, than to start construction on a wooded site.

How will the winning casino sites be determined? I would hope it would go to the highest bidder for a license but knowing this state.

04-15-2010, 03:01 PM
I really hope NB gets one as well. It would be much better to redevelop and existing site such as that, than to start construction on a wooded site.

How will the winning casino sites be determined? I would hope it would go to the highest bidder for a license but knowing this state.

It would be a great redevelopment opportunity for that particular location. It was slated to be an Aquarium at one point but they've since moved that toward the center of Downtown. New Bedford really supports the casino project. Middleborough (and other small towns) residents seem to be very much against it. If I were the developers and the state, I'd want to build where the support is. It will mean more revenue (and less headache) sooner.

Frankly, I have no idea how the sites will be determined. There's a lot of optimism in NB that they'll get one, but I haven't heard a state official or anyone else for that matter commit to the city. I think New Bedford's chances are good because of the support from city hall (which will mean expedited permitting). However, I would have to imagine that these licenses would go to high bidders which is the fairest way to do it. I'd assume that a developer with rights to the land locked up and a real proposal (not to mention significant community support) would be willing to bid high, but who knows?

04-16-2010, 01:03 PM
Do you happen to know anything about the other casino that has been proposed for NB?


04-16-2010, 02:17 PM
The other Casino plan for New Bedford is for the waterfront area along I-195 just North of downtown. It was the first proposal for New Bedford, but no one has heard anything for a while about it. In fact, the Northeast Resorts Group who is behind that plan (and also the Palmer one) is really difficult to find ANY information on.

This is their proposal (from an old Standard Times article):
http://img40.imagefra.me/img/img40/6/4/16/jfoahs04/f_vdu6r35ukqlm_4a95b4c.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

I don't like the location as it's cut off from the city by two highways and it's North of downtown meaning you won't pull any traffic into that area. I also don't know how it gets built. It was proposed before the Wamsutta Mill Complex was renovated into market rate and high end apartments and condos and the photo above seems to imply that they would use that facility. I can't imagine residents of the Wamsutta Mill would be too supportive.

04-25-2010, 09:33 AM
New Bedford's current revival will be featured as part the History Channel's new "America: The Story of Us" series.

City's rebirth featured in Bank of America film

April 25, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? The city and its ongoing revitalization efforts will be showcased tonight at 9 on national television through a mini-documentary created by Bank of America to air during a new series on The History Channel.

The two-minute-long mini-documentary ? one of 12 created by Bank of America as part of its sponsorship of the series "America The Story of Us" ? will talk about the bank's efforts to help revitalize city neighborhoods through real estate development, mortgage and small business loans.

Mayor Scott W. Lang said he was surprised and flattered that Bank of America had chosen to highlight New Bedford.

full story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100425/NEWS/4250362/1011/TOWN10)

Also, Part of the Whaling Museum's $5 Million expansion will include reuse of an attached historic bank building and a new Water St. entrance.

Whaling museum to unwrap hidden space

By Steve Urbon
April 24, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Hidden from the public for nearly a century, the original core of the whaling museum will soon be restored to exhibit space with an added entrance on Water Street, according to Arthur P. Motta Jr., the museum's senior director of marketing

and communications.

Originally the National Bank of Commerce, the building was acquired by Henry Huttleston Rogers for use as a whaling museum in 1907, Motta said. A decade later, the Bourne building, which houses the half-scale ship model Lagoda, the world's largest, was built. The original space, which is immediately adjacent to the central Jacobs Gallery, became furniture storage and work space and still retains most of its lavish woodwork and fittings. full story (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100424/NEWS/4240345/1011/TOWN10)

05-08-2010, 11:08 AM
Hope some of these possible developments go forward. I have always had a fondness for New Bedford and consider it a "real" city that has the right amount of grit and a tremendous amount of potential due to it's great location on the coast.

05-09-2010, 06:21 PM
Yes, "potential" is the key word. Downtown is actually starting to look great (pockets of some other neighborhoods are too) with some moderate and small scale development taking place (the new waterfront hotel opens next month). They actually opened some 40 new stores downtown between 2007-10 (while losing only about 8). The tallest building in the city is getting a complete renovation (new condos instead of affordable rentals) and a reclad currently. It's getting there, but it's a lengthy process.

Still, there's too much grit. A little is nice (the diverse populations certainly adds a bit) and adds character, but New Bedford has too much. The coastal location is great and the bones of the city are excellent

05-21-2010, 09:02 AM
New Bedford pitches for UMass bio site
Boston Business Journal - by Michelle Lang

The City of New Bedford is rolling out the red carpet to land a $15 million biomanufacturing facility planned by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The facility was originally slated for Fall River, which has since refocused its efforts to potentially site a casino at the same location, according to a report by SouthCoastToday.com.

New Bedford made its pitch in a formal proposal to UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack. The offer was submitted via a letter from Massachusetts state representatives Antonio Cabral, Stephen Canessa and Robert Koczera.

Original plans called for Fall River to site the biomanufacturing facility in a 300-acre proposed BioPark, but the location has more recently drawn attention as a potential casino site proposed by the Mashpee Wampanoag.


Very smart move IMO. Lrfox, any idea where they might try and put this?

05-21-2010, 10:56 AM
^Yeah, I've been following that one a bit.

That story is actually a little strange. The mayor of Fall River seems to have shot himself in the foot with the Casino proposal and New Bedford is right there to pick up the pieces.

Fall River has been trying to sell the Wampanoag Indians on that land for the casino for some time. The land had originally been earmarked for the UMass facility. Obviously, the city of Fall River's pitch for the casino annoyed UMass Dartmouth. What's worse is that Fall River didn't do its research. First, the city had secured state and federal money and has just about begun work on a new highway on/off ramp on Route 24. Deval Patrick has made it clear that if the casino goes in, the state will withdraw the funding for the highway ramp, not too small a project.

Second, and perhaps the biggest oversight, is Fall River's complete oversight of the land involved. It turns out that 33 acres of the site the city has pitched to the casino developers aren't in Fall River at all. They're in Freetown which absolutely won't support a casino on their land.

It looks as if New Bedford will end up with the UMass development, and if legislation passes, it's still by far the most likely spot for a South Coast casino to end up as well. The Fall River mayor is taking some serious heat on this blunder.

If it does end up in New Bedford, it will be in the bio tech park in the city's North End.

06-10-2010, 09:21 AM
It's been a while since the last update. I've been busy.

The new Waterfront hotel opened last weekend and is 100% booked through the summer already. For a mediocre hotel (Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites), it looks O.K. on the inside, but the exterior is sort of "blah" (tries too hard to look "maritime"). At least it's not cookie cutter. I'm also glad that only about 12 parking spaces were added. A major surface lot adjacent to a downtown hotel is counter-productive. The addition of this hotel to the downtown area is huge and is already paying dividends.

Also, the re-clad of the Regency Tower (New Bedford's tallest) and the interior renovations are well underway (it looks naked).

Finally, the reason I'm posting is because there is a real push to model the new railroad station downtown after the old one that was leveled long ago. Current renderings show a large, glass, mixed-use structure (office on the upper floors, retail and platforms on the lower levels). I'm a big fan of the mixed-use, but glass is so redundant nowadays. If they could model it correctly (not entirely precast) off of the old station, I'd be all for it.

Let's avoid bad planning with train station
Jack Spillane column

http://img37.imagefra.me/img/img37/6/6/10/jfoahs04/f_11q5921ohoim_714145b.jpg (http://imagefra.me/)

"Just rebuild the old station!"

Peter Barney was whispering to me as we sat at the South Coast Rail Project's public meeting Tuesday night.

The latest "best and brightest" planners were unveiling their vision of a post-modernist, glass-encased rail station for New Bedford ? complete with unemployment center located on the second floor.

It looked nothing like New Bedford, and nothing like a train station.

It didn't remind you at all of the quaint MBTA depots that make Massachusetts places like Beverly and Concord terrific places to live.

It looked more along the lines of the impersonal Quincy station, the concrete modernist jungle off Route 128 that is the kind of spot you wouldn't want to be caught alone in after dark.

more (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100610/NEWS/6100341)

despite the fact that Spillane is entirely misinformed on almost every level (there's a difference between Post-Modernism and Modernism/Brutalism as well as the fact that there's a big difference between quaint platforms and urban terminal stations), he does have a point. There's no need to get fancy (especially when fancy state projects are not fancy at all) when you could do good by recreating the station that was once there (minus the front yard of course). I like the idea. I like it because I doubt the state will pay for anything modern AND good. It just needs to be done right.

The other big news for New Bedford is that Cape Wind is nearing a deal to make New Bedford its home port for staging and development of the 150 turbine project. This would bring over 1,000 jobs to the city with about 50% of them permanent. Big news for New Bedford.

Cape Wind, New Bedford near deal

June 10, 2010 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? A Cape Wind official said Wednesday the project's developers are in ongoing discussions with the city about using New Bedford as a staging port for the project and hope to make a formal announcement soon.

"I'll tell you, that's an announcement we want to make, and we're working very hard with (the city) to make that a reality," said Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind.

Rodgers spoke in New Bedford during a seminar on offshore wind projects held during the opening day of the Commercial Marine Expo, a major marine trade show being held in the city this year for the first time.

more (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100610/NEWS/6100334/1011/TOWN10)

06-29-2010, 01:35 PM
If/When a casino in New Bedford is approved and constructed, I wonder if said casino would be interested in a partial funding of the south coast rail.

Then, they could run a train from Boston to New Bedford similar to the Aces train that goes from NY - AC.


However, i think for that to happen, there will need to be a stop almost at the casino.

06-29-2010, 02:48 PM
Is there a rendering of the proposed station floating around the internets?

08-03-2010, 10:32 AM
Is there a rendering of the proposed station floating around the internets?

Man, I need to update this thread. No, there isn't a proposal online. I'm trying to get one. I saw the initial one and it was complete and utter crap. The project manager said it's just to give an idea of the scale and not an actual architectural rendering... they're still "working on that." That contradicts the notion that construction could begin this year.

In other news, the Route 18 project (converting it from a highway to a pedestrian friendly boulevard) is well underway and the conversion of the Regency Tower from affordable housing to market rate condos is currently happening as we speak too.

Victoria Lofts, another mill conversion to market rate/ high end condos is about midway through construction right now. It's located in the north end along the river and will have a community boathouse behind it as well as a riverside park which will connect to the Riverside Landing mixed use development (office, retail, condos) located just North of 195 along the river. That's a project that's about 25% complete too.

Brick Mill Apartments (yet another mill conversion) along the river on the South End is now leasing and nearing completion. Great harbor views from there.

That's what's going on in a nutshell. I'll have to come back with links and photos when I have time later on.

08-03-2010, 12:20 PM
That must be some view. Usually mill conversion projects don't make financial sense, or so I have been told. What are (or will be) the going rates for units? Don't get me wrong, from a reuse standpoint, mill renovations are great, but I have heard from a financial standpoint it would usually be cheaper to tear the whole thing down and start again (which would, obviously, probably be prohibited in most locales).

08-03-2010, 10:36 PM
That must be some view. Usually mill conversion projects don't make financial sense, or so I have been told. What are (or will be) the going rates for units? Don't get me wrong, from a reuse standpoint, mill renovations are great, but I have heard from a financial standpoint it would usually be cheaper to tear the whole thing down and start again (which would, obviously, probably be prohibited in most locales).

Some of the mill conversions in New Bedford (and in places like Lowell, Haverhill, and probably Manchester, I assume) can do well enough as long as there's a market for the units (and there is a growing one). Many of these old mills haven't been out of use too long so they may not have to be torn apart as the most recent uses often have somewhat modernized the insulation, heating/cooling systems, etc. One of my favorites is the recently opened Lofts at Wamsutta (http://www.loftsatwamsuttaplace.com/) in New Bedford. It really beautified a HUGE chunk of the city (there's a major antique store there and a small museum inside as well). The units are great too.

Personally, I think it's a case by case basis. I mentioned the Riverside Landing development right near the Victoria mill conversion. That site was the Fairhaven Mills location. It was a big controversy when the developer said they wanted to take it down. It was deemed a historic site, but it just wasn't feasible to renovate it so they took it down and are now building a relatively large, three-phase, mixed use project. Wamsutta was financially doable while Fairhaven Mill (about 1/4 mile away from Wamsutta) wasn't. I like Wamsutta, but at the same time the Fairhaven Mill Complex was sprawling. The new development includes new streets (smaller blocks) and essentially a new neighborhood center along the waterfront. It's more pedestrian friendly and integrated with the neighborhood better than a mill complex can really ever be (most essentially turn their back on their surroundings).

New Bedford is lucky enough to grown as a seaport/maritime colonial city (as evidenced by the city's focal point, the Whaling District National Historic Park (http://www.nps.gov/nebe/index.htm)) for a long time before industry came to town. Because of this, the old mills are a ways outside of downtown (where in industrial cities like nearby Fall River or Pawtucket, Haverhill, Biddeford, etc they are right in downtown). This means they don't really effect how the city's center functions or appears aesthetically.

Personally, I'd rather see most of them go, feasible or not. Wamsutta is great. I really like what's happening at Victoria (here is the website (http://victoriariverside.com/index.html), by the way) too since it's right on the river near another new project. Those two developments are an influx of over $100 Million in that small pocket of the North End that can go a long way. Still, old mills occupy a lot of space and I'd rather see that space used to tie back together the urban fabric of a neighborhood (like Riverside Landing) instead of just sprucing up a giant old dinosaur. Like I said, it's a case-by-case basis and some can be retrofitted nicely; but more often than not, I'd rather see them leveled.

I don't see the prices posted, but I think the rentals at Victoria are going to start at about $950 (1 bedroom) and the condos at about $250,000. I'm not sure at all what they're going for at Brick Mill.

08-26-2010, 08:45 AM
The Regency is undergoing renovations, here is a render of the recladding.


08-26-2010, 11:52 AM
Nice. Reclads can be just as good as a new building sometimes. I thought this project was complete now, hasn't it been going on for some time?

08-26-2010, 05:24 PM
That rendering doesn't look too bad for Sketchup quality. Anything is better than the faux-brick. What's been lost in all of the "reclad" news is the actual conversion going on in the building. It was originally low-income housing, but it's being converted into market rate condos and apartments. That's a big upgrade for the downtown neighborhood where it's located.

In other news this is a good article (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100822/NEWS/8220334/1011/TOWN10)highlighting (with statistics for support) areas that New Bedford has really progressed. It's amazing to me that New Bedford's assessed property values are rising higher than any other city in Massachusetts. Furthermore, the number of permits pulled for construction in the city have decreased less than just about any other city in the state. There's a lot of other great info in that article too.

*Edit* Forgot to add... Patrick, the project has only been underway since late spring (May, I think). It had been discussed for a while, but finally began construction in the spring. There are some other renovations and reclads elsewhere in the city (including a number downtown) but this is the largest.

08-26-2010, 06:06 PM
Er, it's kind of just a commieblock with a nice hat.

Still nice to see this kind of development in NB, though.

Ron Newman
08-26-2010, 09:53 PM
It was originally low-income housing, but it's being converted into market rate condos and apartments. That's a big upgrade for the downtown neighborhood where it's located.

But what's it like for the people who used to live there? Did they find equally good housing elsewhere in the city, or are they now walking the streets homeless?

08-26-2010, 11:15 PM
But what's it like for the people who used to live there? Did they find equally good housing elsewhere in the city, or are they now walking the streets homeless?

They had been mostly relocated long ago. The building was in terrible condition (walls literally crumbling) and some staggeringly high percentage of the units were vacant (80% or more if I remember correctly). Not many people are being displaced. In fact, I think most will have space in the mandatory 10% of this project set aside for low-income housing.

We're not talking about booting poor folks to accommodate gentrification. We're talking about bettering a building that was crumbling and nearly empty. It's a good rehab.

08-27-2010, 03:14 PM
Actually, the Regency was constructed as luxury apartments in the 80's. It had a gourmet deli and fitness club on the ground level, as well as covered garage parking. The top floor was offices and function space. The middle contained the residences. Over the years it didnt keep current and lost tenants. It did have a required percentage of affordable units but it was never low income housing.

08-27-2010, 08:19 PM
^Really? I was almost positive that Mass Housing owned it in recent years and let it fall into disrepair.

08-27-2010, 09:47 PM
I am pretty sure of that. In fact before buying a house I looked at an apartment there about 2004 and it was 1200/mo for a 2 bedroom.

Mayor Menino's Crohn's
11-23-2010, 03:30 PM
NEW BEDFORD - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - The City of New Bedford and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced details of an informal design competition for a new station off Route 18 to be known as Whale�s Tooth. The multi-modal station will be built as part of the South Coast Rail project and may host a new local and intercity bus terminal. The announcement was made in New Bedford City Hall by Mayor Scott W. Lang and Kristina Egan, Director of South Coast Rail, MassDOT.

"As one of the largest stations on the planned South Coast Rail line, Whale's Tooth station is expected to generate millions of dollars in new economic development," said Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan, "The Patrick-Murray Administration is happy to work with the city and its residents to create a great place for people and for transportation"

"The City is looking for inspirational designs that are consistent with the history, character, and feel of New Bedford," said Mayor Lang. "We want the station to incorporate green building features and reflect the character of nearby neighborhoods, as well as the city�s plans for the future. We have vibrant art and education communities in the region and want to gather ideas from these talented groups of people."

"In anticipation of the South Coast Rail project, the MBTA is pleased to be working with the community in seeking innovative ideas for the Whale�s Tooth Station," said Rich Davey, General Manager of the MBTA and Transit and Rail Administrator for MassDOT. "We hope residents of the South Coast - students, residents, designers and artists - will bring their visions and ideas to the contest."

In addition to holding a design contest, the City, MassDOT, and the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority have launched an initiative to identify ways to improve local bus service and provide service to the Whale�s Tooth station. Customer surveys are underway to gather information from riders and the larger public. Recommendations will be released next year in the first comprehensive report ever developed for the bus authority.

The contest poster and background information about the station site are posted on the project website, www.mass.gov/southcoastrail. Submissions are due on December 20, 2010, and must include one or two drawings or renderings and a description and rationale for the design.

South Coast Rail will restore passenger rail service from South Station in Boston to the South Coast Cities of Fall River and New Bedford. It will address long-standing transportation inequity, encourage economic development, foster job creation and connect people with affordable housing options, while protecting the natural environment. The project is guided by Sustainable Development principles and includes a regional smart growth corridor plan. Whale�s Tooth would be one of the new stations providing service to Downtown New Bedford.

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot


02-15-2011, 11:43 AM
^Just figured I'd post an update since it's been nearly 3 months since the last one.

-The finalists for the train station contest have been selected and are on display at the Whaling Museum. I have only seen one. Damon May, a Dartmouth architect, has submitted this design which is a finalist. It was an effort to utilize the design of the former New Bedford passenger terminal while utilizing modern technology (i.e. solar panals on the roof).


I like it. Rather, it's suitable for the city size and function. It's not South Station, but I don't think it's fair to expect that. It's more attractive than Providence's station.

-There is significant progress in the effort to connect Fall River and New Bedford by bike path (http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110210/PUB03/102100381). This is a small segment of a larger project which would connect and extend some of the existing bike paths to form a massive, interconnected trail connecting Providence to Provincetown. Fairhaven has a big bike path already and the plan is to connect that through Mattapoisett,Marion and Wareham to reach Bourne where it would link up with the existing Cape Cod trails. The New Bedford/Fall River connection could link into both Fairhaven and Rhode Island's East Bay trail (which already extends from Bristol to East Providence). In Providence, there's been progress in connecting the East Bay Trail to the Blackstone Trail which would link Bristol to Worcester via bike trail.

Quite a network, but I am unsure of how they plan to cross the major waterways (Taunton River, Canal, Blackstone River, etc). The Taunton River seems like the easy solution. The existing Brightman St. Bridge is going to be out of service to vehicular traffic when the new span opens this spring. It would make sense to allow bikes and pedestrians to use it. You could probably make room on the relatively sparsely used Henderson Expressway Bridge in Providence for bikes to cross the Blackstone River.You'd simply have to extend the existing path about a mile further up the river and designate an area on the bridge (hopefully with a jersey barrier separation or something). It empties out into the East Side not far from Blackstone BLVD which is already well marked with Bike Lanes. A better route would be along the riverbank. We'll see. Still, that leaves the Cape Cod Canal as the biggest hurdle.

-The Victoria Lofts mill conversion is near completion. Units will be set for occupancy in the next few weeks. Here is more info: http://victoriariverside.com/index.html

- Phase II is about to begin at the old Fairhaven Mills location. Phase II will include riverfront park space (including a community boathouse) and some office and retail. Market Basket is the anchor tenant in phase I and has done outstanding business.

Finally, New Bedford was named one of 12 Distinctive Destinations (http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/northeast-region/new-bedford-massachusetts.html) for 2011 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A nice honor. New Bedford joins the ranks of Burlington VT (2003), Providence (2007), Portland (2003), Portsmouth NH (2008) and Lowell (2000) as New England cities that have received the honor in the past.

02-15-2011, 12:52 PM
I like that station, too. A lot, actually. Is it for Amtrak?

The Victoria townhomes look to be a good idea, but no pictures inside, just floorplans ( I am very visual).

02-15-2011, 01:16 PM
I like that station, too. A lot, actually. Is it for Amtrak?

The Victoria townhomes look to be a good idea, but no pictures inside, just floorplans ( I am very visual).

Commuter Rail

02-15-2011, 02:07 PM
Congratulations on the Distinctive Destination honor. I've never been to New Bedford, but I'd like to visit sometime soon.

The commuter rail station looks nice--am I correct in understanding that it's an existing building that the architect is proposing to renovate and reuse? It's a shame that so many similar sized cities have lost their beautiful, old rail stations. If New Bedford has the opportunity to reuse theirs, I think it would be a great idea to at least very seriously consider doing so.

Do you have a link to the design or any other info on the commuter rail station?

02-15-2011, 03:25 PM
I like that station, too. A lot, actually. Is it for Amtrak?

The Victoria townhomes look to be a good idea, but no pictures inside, just floorplans ( I am very visual).

The station is for Commuter Rail to/from Boston. I don't see NB being on an Amtrak line anytime soon. There are efforts to restore the New York City- Cape Cod rail link which would be a good opportunity for New Bedford to make a push to get an Amtrak stop. However, it's likely that it will more feasible to for Amtrak to retain their northern route through Taunton (missing NB). We'll see. A commuter rail stop is more useful as an economic driver anyway (in this location).

I'm right there with you on the visual thing. I can't find pictures of even a model unit anywhere. I'm guessing they're probably behind schedule. It's the same group who renovated Wamsutta (http://www.loftsatwamsuttaplace.com/) and is doing another renovation in the South End. I'm sure they'll be nice. I'm not thrilled with the location though. A bit too far from downtown for my tastes. Acushnet Ave. is close enough, but I'd rather be closer to the city center if I had that type of rental.Better than a vacant mill.

Congratulations on the Distinctive Destination honor. I've never been to New Bedford, but I'd like to visit sometime soon.

The commuter rail station looks nice--am I correct in understanding that it's an existing building that the architect is proposing to renovate and reuse? It's a shame that so many similar sized cities have lost their beautiful, old rail stations. If New Bedford has the opportunity to reuse theirs, I think it would be a great idea to at least very seriously consider doing so.

Do you have a link to the design or any other info on the commuter rail station?

New Bedford is worth a visit. I think the "Distinctive Destination" thing is awarded to cities that have preserved their historic character well. New Bedford has holes, but the downtown core and surrounding historic residential neighborhoods are very much in tact (part of downtown is a national historic park (http://www.nps.gov/nebe/index.htm)). Very pretty. It's a nice honor to be recognized for their preservation efforts. Good peers on that list.

The commuter rail station (that rendering, anyway) is a NEW structure that is based on the old one. The old one was a nice Victorian one (I think there's a photo one page back in this thread) that was demolished for Route 18 (one of NB's scars). I like the idea of basing the new one on the old one. It's too bad the old one isn't there to renovate.

Unfortunately, I don't have any more info on the station. I think the results came out just last week and I've got nothing but that photo which was lifted from a Standard Times blog entry. I'll try to get some more info and post it.