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Old 04-17-2012, 09:12 PM   #1
LordStanleyCup2011
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Design a Better Fall River

I made a map on another forum detailing some fixes to the City of Fall River. Hopefully this gets an awesome thread going. I am also going to post something that was full of ideas as well. I also want to make this thread to have ideas on how to improve the area.

FALL RIVER 2050 PROJECT: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=...32606,0.076818

Fall River Improvement and Ideas thread on Citydata.com: http://www.city-data.com/forum/massa...-river-ma.html

Over 9 pages of ideas from many people. Thats a great read.

MODS: If its against the rules to post a link to another forum I apoligize and I encouarge you to edit that away if need be.

Once I find a rendering program Ill post some renderings. Hopefully we get a good discussion going! Let's discuss away!

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Old 04-17-2012, 10:34 PM   #2
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Links to relevant sites are always encouraged here.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:59 PM   #3
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Links to relevant sites are always encouraged here.
Awesome! Did you check them out?
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:21 AM   #4
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Cool thanks for sharing
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

I'd love to see Fall River improve. I spent most of my childhood about 5 or 6 miles from downtown Fall River and I have a lot of friends who still live in the city. However, I have very little faith in a recovery there any time soon.

Fall River has the second highest unemployment in MA (Lawrence is number 1). Creating jobs is the key to any sort of revitalization and Fall River isn't doing much in that department. Over the past few years I've spent some time doing some work with the city and have familiarized myself with the key players in local government. They keep shooting themselves in the foot to the point that it's sickening.

A few recent examples:

1) Route 79 reconstruction along the waterfront. In a nutshell, the plan is to demolish the viaduct along the waterfront and replace it with pedestrian friendly surface boulevard ( more on the plans here and here). It's an excellent and worthwhile project on paper and if you're familiar with the area, you know just how big of an improvement this would be. The best part is that the state has approved AND funded the $170 million project which has the green light.

The problem? Fall River is keeping the project from moving forward because it would involve removing a small off-ramp from I-195 that connects to downtown and 138. That would seem significant except that there is another ramp from 195 to downtown about 1/4 mile from the ramp planned to be demolished. Furthermore, studies show that traffic impact would be minimal and demolishing the existing ramp would bring more people through the downtown area (the existing ramp skirts around downtown) to access 128 to Tiverton RI and Fall River's South End. Removing the ramp also improves pedestrian access from downtown to the waterfront. Every state and federal study supports the argument that removing the ramp is a good thing, but a few Fall River officials refuse to change their stance.

With the deadline for utilizing the funds approaching, there's a good chance that Fall River will lose the funding. It's hard enough to get money for these projects as it is and Fall River's willing to let it go away over a nitpick and no substance to back it up. When (if) the funding will become available again is a mystery. Even then, state officials are less likely to work with Fall River because of their current stance. Many places would be thrilled to have that money.

2) Commuter Rail. The South Coast Rail project has been in the works for decades, but is finally nearing the green light. Most of the plans have been finalized, almost all of the approvals are either in or about to be in and the project is ready to secure full funding (it already has a few hundred million invested). At this stage in the game, the routes, station locations, layover stations, etc. are locked in.

Fall River's station is planned at the intersection of Davol and President Avenue (right near Al Mac's Diner). The rail planning process has actually collaborated with the Route 79 planning process so that the highway removal and station construction go hand in hand. It was a smart planning move and something that's atypical for the South Coast. The plans have been drawn up and approved and simply await funding and final environmental approval from the Army Corps (which is imminent).

Even though the current plan has been on the table for the better part of a decade, leadership in Fall River is just now deciding they don't like it and want to change it. Changes to the plan now would delay the project at least a year or more. What's worse is their proposal for a new station. They would like to move the station to Weaver's Cove. An isolated plot of land about about 3.5 miles from downtown and surrounded by water and highway (here's a link to the site on google maps). It's literally a wasteland. It's not within walking distance of just about anything (especially downtown).

As with 79, the state is so angry with Fall River's stance on this that the idea of eliminating the Fall River leg of the commuter rail is not out of the realm of possibility if the city doesn't change its tune. Again, shooting themselves in the foot.

3) Insular attitude. This happens too often to get specific, but I'll try. City officials in Fall River view themselves as an island that's entirely separate from neighboring communities. Freetown, Westport, Tiverton and Somerset (the four immediate neighbors) have all felt the impact of this. There was a time in the early 2000s when Boston Beer was looking to build a new facility in Freetown near the Fall River city limits. Freetown had wooed Boston Beer and had all but finalized the project. Fall River, however, wanted Boston Beer in Fall River. Because of that, they at first refused to allow Boston Beer to access their water supply (the Assonet side of Freetown is on Fall River water) and then demanded extraordinary high fees to allow them to use it. Boston Beer scoffed and moved elsewhere (I think Ohio). The majority of the employees would have been Fall River citizens. Citizens who live in a city that has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in MA. Instead of realizing that, Fall River chased them away. It's happened in all of the neighboring communities as well as within the city limits itself (see: Hess LNG). Fall River needs to realize that there are bedroom communities nearby. People can come from outside of the city to work and vice versa. A new office or factory a mile outside of the city limits can (and will) employ Fall River residents. Until FR works well with neighboring communities this problem will continue.

Those are all political problems with Fall River that CAN be fixed. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Fall River has been gutted by the exodus of the textile industry as well as urban renewal. Downtown Fall River is literally split in half by I-195 which acts as a wall for any sort of pedestrian activity. Route 79 is a massive wall separating the city from the water. Historic structures have crumbled or been demolished and turned into surface lots as a result of abandonment.

I'm a big optimist as far as cities go, but I can't fathom the city revitalizing much in my lifetime (and I'm only in my mid 20s). Small improvements? Maybe. However, it's just so far gone.

That's not to say Fall River is all bad. South Main St. in downtown is as urban as you'll find in any small city in Massachusetts (here's a streetview). The Highlands are an incredibly intact district of great historic homes. The waterfront is actually pretty cool (with the caveat that you pretty much HAVE to drive there) as Heritage Park/Battleship Cove and Bicentennial Park/Iwo Jima Memorial bookend a boardwalk that's over a mile long. It's incredibly pleasant. Fall River may have next to nothing in terms of high end restaurants, but it's chalk full of awesome ethnic places. There are a number of Brazilian, Lebanese, Cambodian and Portuguese places that are outstanding. The Portuguese is the most famous (and deservedly so... better than anywhere else in the US aside from maybe New Bedford), but the others are awesome too. The location is pretty good. 1/2 hour from Newport, 15 Minutes from Providence, 50 Minutes from Boston and 1/2 hour from Cape Cod. It is a harbor which keeps it from being completely economically irrelevant.

All that said, Fall River's still going in the wrong direction. Growing up, I used to consider Fall River and New Bedford to be one in the same. Not anymore. While Fall River has slipped further and further, New Bedford improves. Fall River's government can't attract business or complete transit projects, New Bedford turns a downtown highway into ped. friendly surface boulevard and rebuilds one of their most urban neighborhood streets. While Fall River's downtown literally crumbles (read recent history), New Bedford turns 13 blocks into a beautiful National Historic Park. While Fall River's port fails, New Bedford's becomes the highest grossing fishing port in the nation while continuing to increase shipping volumes and investing millions into seaport infrastructure. While Fall River closes its airport to allow the dump to expand, NB expands its airport and improves operations. While Fall River chases away business, New Bedford incubates small business while luring high tech industries. It's like night and day.

Last edited by Lrfox; 04-18-2012 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:22 PM   #6
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Is Route 79 even necessary anymore? Could it be converted into a waterfront boulevard with a pedestrian/bicycle pathway/boardwalk alongside?
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:29 PM   #7
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Is Route 79 even necessary anymore? Could it be converted into a waterfront boulevard with a pedestrian/bicycle pathway/boardwalk alongside?
No. It's not necessary. Route 24 intersects with I-195 about 3 miles away and is perfectly viable for all north/south through traffic connecting to/from 195.

That's what the "Route 79 Plan" entails. Demolishing it and converting it into a pedestrian boulevard with a bike path and the existing boardwalk alongside of it. It's been approved and funded and Fall River's on the verge of letting that funding slip away over a small detail. This is the portion that is currently funded. It involves demolishing the elevated highway and construction of the at grade roadway. The second phase will complete the conversion of 79 into a surface boulevard from the new bridge to the Braga Bridge.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:12 PM   #8
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Fall River needs to look at what New Bedford did to its waterfront. I forget I'm in New Bedford when I drive thru it. They should also knock down most of the mills. I dont care about there "historical significance". There an eyesore and the space could be used for something benefecial to the area. The mills that are abandoned are home to places for crime and fire starters.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

As long as all the retailers, dining establishments, casinos, amusement parks and whorehouses are plugged into the EBT system this plan will be mint.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:14 PM   #10
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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As long as all the retailers, dining establishments, casinos, amusement parks and whorehouses are plugged into the EBT system this plan will be mint.
Thanks aton. I still want to edit this and broaden it up, thats why I posted it here so we can update this more.

When I'm older I also plan to run for Mayor of Fall River, or at least head the office of economic development.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:22 PM   #11
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Anyone know how to use Google Sketchup? Im trying to render alot of these things and post it here but I cant figure out how to do it nice and crisp. I have a basic idea but it comes out really bad.

Thanks
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:56 PM   #12
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Thanks aton. I still want to edit this and broaden it up, thats why I posted it here so we can update this more.

When I'm older I also plan to run for Mayor of Fall River, or at least head the office of economic development.
Why wait? The current head of the FROED is not in favor with the majority of the city. The mayor doesn't have a wonderful reputation either. I'm assuming you're in high school (correct me if I'm wrong). It won't be a long time before you have the qualifications to occupy either of these seats. There's a good chance you're capable now.

I'm only a few years removed from college. Working in Fall River was an eye opening experience for me. While I never had any delusions that gov't officials were persons of flawless character; I always assumed they were mostly smart and qualified. Turns out, I was naive. The sheer level of ignorance in Fall River politics is astounding. Turnover would do them a lot of good.

I'd do it, but frankly I don't find the hassle to be worth it. I'll actually be in Fall River tomorrow for a political event. I'm dreading it. It's just one of those places that needs a complete overhaul. I know the state coming in and running things is considered to be the lowest of the low, but wiping the slate clean (starting at the top) would be good for the city. If you're that passionate, go for it.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:24 PM   #13
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

Brick mills should be reused, not demolished. Take a look at Lowell to see this done well.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:53 AM   #14
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Brick mills should be reused, not demolished. Take a look at Lowell to see this done well.
I agree in most circumstances. Fall River has a great collection of fairly unique mills (used to house the factory outlets) made of Fall River Granite clustered close together just east of downtown. They need to be preserved. A few have been turned into 55+ housing and look pretty nice. Others currently make great retail and office space (the 99 and DMV make great use of their mill locations). In any case, they're worth of saving.

There are some nice older red brick mills between downtown and the waterfront too. These are worthy of preservation as well. These are actually nicely utilized already. The Narrows Center for the Arts makes great use of one of the spaces and Workout World has a huge chunk of space in another mill. A number of small businesses ranging from screen printing, to law offices to retail occupy much of the remaining space.

A Jerry Remy's is opening in a great brick mill on the waterfront. BCC already uses some space in the building and luxury apartments are under construction on the higher floors.

The mills are a huge part of Fall River's heritage. Fall River may not have the benefit of having them clustered together around the city center in the same way Lowell does, but they're still useful and certainly important.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #15
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Why wait? The current head of the FROED is not in favor with the majority of the city. The mayor doesn't have a wonderful reputation either. I'm assuming you're in high school (correct me if I'm wrong). It won't be a long time before you have the qualifications to occupy either of these seats. There's a good chance you're capable now.

I'm only a few years removed from college. Working in Fall River was an eye opening experience for me. While I never had any delusions that gov't officials were persons of flawless character; I always assumed they were mostly smart and qualified. Turns out, I was naive. The sheer level of ignorance in Fall River politics is astounding. Turnover would do them a lot of good.

I'd do it, but frankly I don't find the hassle to be worth it. I'll actually be in Fall River tomorrow for a political event. I'm dreading it. It's just one of those places that needs a complete overhaul. I know the state coming in and running things is considered to be the lowest of the low, but wiping the slate clean (starting at the top) would be good for the city. If you're that passionate, go for it.

I'll be in high school at the end of this school year, so during the 2012-13 school year ill be a freshman.

I think converting the brick mills into a museum would be really cool.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:52 AM   #16
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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I agree in most circumstances. Fall River has a great collection of fairly unique mills (used to house the factory outlets) made of Fall River Granite clustered close together just east of downtown. They need to be preserved. A few have been turned into 55+ housing and look pretty nice. Others currently make great retail and office space (the 99 and DMV make great use of their mill locations). In any case, they're worth of saving.

There are some nice older red brick mills between downtown and the waterfront too. These are worthy of preservation as well. These are actually nicely utilized already. The Narrows Center for the Arts makes great use of one of the spaces and Workout World has a huge chunk of space in another mill. A number of small businesses ranging from screen printing, to law offices to retail occupy much of the remaining space.

A Jerry Remy's is opening in a great brick mill on the waterfront. BCC already uses some space in the building and luxury apartments are under construction on the higher floors.

The mills are a huge part of Fall River's heritage. Fall River may not have the benefit of having them clustered together around the city center in the same way Lowell does, but they're still useful and certainly important.
I couldn't agree more about preserving and reusing mills in cities like Fall River, and thanks for sharing some history and pointing in the right direction to find the mills on Street View.

I've only ever driven through Fall River and am not familiar with the city, but looking at the map and from what I've read here and on Wikipedia, it sounds like Fall River needs to demolish its highways, not its mills. I wouldn't count on I-195 going away any time soon, but converting Rt. 79 to an urban boulevard and getting rid of the maze of ramps at the waterfront would be huge. It seems like it would also restore a (sense of) connection between the brick mills in that area and the downtown.

The stone mills along Plymouth & Pleasant seem like they're already well-used, and unusual compared to the brick mills found elsewhere in most mill cities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Those are the sort of spaces and buildings that people want to work, live and shop in these days. While they're not clustered in a single area like in Lowell or Manchester, the seem to be pretty close to downtown and seem like they have the potential to anchor neighborhoods around them.

I grew up in Manchester, which despite receiving awards for later preservation of its millyard, allowed about half its mills to be demolished in the name of urban renewal. While most of the largest buildings remain, nearly all of the smaller buildings--the ones that defined streets and lent the larger buildings a more human scale--were lost. And they can never be rebuilt. The Millyard there is a bustling economic center for the city during the workday, but it doesn't function as a neighborhood or mixed-use district.

Before considering the demolition of mills, Fall River residents and planners would do well to look at places like Manchester and Lowell. Learn from their mistakes and successes. But don't let the heritage of the city fall in the name of urban renewal or economic development--it is preserving and adapting that heritage that will fuel economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

On a side note, I just wanted to commend the LordStanley for your interest in your hometown. While I love Manchester and want to see it continue its (somewhat stalled) resurgence, I don't live there at the moment. It's easy to give up on a town--especially an industrial revolution-era mill city--that has seen better days. They don't have the glamour or curb appeal of places like Cambridge, Providence or Portland. But they were once great cities, and while it's lacking leaders with a strong urban vision at the moment, I think Manchester--along with Lowell and others--shows that they can grow into being great cities again.

Again, I'm not familiar with Fall River or New Bedford, but I've felt that they might fall into the same category of sister cities like Lowell and Lawrence, and maybe even Hartford and Springfield, where one city might make a comeback while the other continues a decline. From what I've heard, I've long assumed that New Bedford would make a comeback while Fall River continued to slide. It takes engaged citizens to prevent that from happening.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:54 AM   #17
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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I couldn't agree more about preserving and reusing mills in cities like Fall River, and thanks for sharing some history and pointing in the right direction to find the mills on Street View.

I've only ever driven through Fall River and am not familiar with the city, but looking at the map and from what I've read here and on Wikipedia, it sounds like Fall River needs to demolish its highways, not its mills. I wouldn't count on I-195 going away any time soon, but converting Rt. 79 to an urban boulevard and getting rid of the maze of ramps at the waterfront would be huge. It seems like it would also restore a (sense of) connection between the brick mills in that area and the downtown.

The stone mills along Plymouth & Pleasant seem like they're already well-used, and unusual compared to the brick mills found elsewhere in most mill cities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Those are the sort of spaces and buildings that people want to work, live and shop in these days. While they're not clustered in a single area like in Lowell or Manchester, the seem to be pretty close to downtown and seem like they have the potential to anchor neighborhoods around them.

I grew up in Manchester, which despite receiving awards for later preservation of its millyard, allowed about half its mills to be demolished in the name of urban renewal. While most of the largest buildings remain, nearly all of the smaller buildings--the ones that defined streets and lent the larger buildings a more human scale--were lost. And they can never be rebuilt. The Millyard there is a bustling economic center for the city during the workday, but it doesn't function as a neighborhood or mixed-use district.

Before considering the demolition of mills, Fall River residents and planners would do well to look at places like Manchester and Lowell. Learn from their mistakes and successes. But don't let the heritage of the city fall in the name of urban renewal or economic development--it is preserving and adapting that heritage that will fuel economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

On a side note, I just wanted to commend the LordStanley for your interest in your hometown. While I love Manchester and want to see it continue its (somewhat stalled) resurgence, I don't live there at the moment. It's easy to give up on a town--especially an industrial revolution-era mill city--that has seen better days. They don't have the glamour or curb appeal of places like Cambridge, Providence or Portland. But they were once great cities, and while it's lacking leaders with a strong urban vision at the moment, I think Manchester--along with Lowell and others--shows that they can grow into being great cities again.

Again, I'm not familiar with Fall River or New Bedford, but I've felt that they might fall into the same category of sister cities like Lowell and Lawrence, and maybe even Hartford and Springfield, where one city might make a comeback while the other continues a decline. From what I've heard, I've long assumed that New Bedford would make a comeback while Fall River continued to slide. It takes engaged citizens to prevent that from happening.
Mike, I also commend you on your commitment to your home city. For all of my interest in design, a city is nothing without its people. The populace and its nature make the difference between an energized place and a place that had given up on itself. 20 years ago, Manchester was a place that had given up on itself, with a strictly utilitarian downtown. 10 years ago, it was a renaissance city. Today, your description above is accurate—stalled, but not down for the count. That’s a product of the recession as much as anything else.
My thought on mill cities is that they can all be improved with simple design and ped enhancement projects. The streetview shots LRFox showed are some nice urbanism, but if you “walk” up the street the urbanism tapers off pretty quickly into some ugly misplaces corner lots and downtrodden dilapidated structures. I’m sure they could be revitalized, but right now they look less than invigorated. Some quality new construction at key anchor or gateway areas in any city goes a long way, as do quality sidewalks, trees, crosswalks, bike lanes, and a commitment to local businesses, first floor retail, and first floor permeability (lots of windows). Good street lighting and places for people to sit also do wonders.

Very basic things go a LONG way and they should be implemented without first embarking on long range plans. In fact, I’d be surprised if there was one plan in the country that couldn’t support these basic infrastructure and design upgrades. Yet most places think that if they haven’t attempted these things yet, a new plan has to be created to tell us what we all already know—certain places need to look better. People are visual, as are all animals. In fact, the presence of eyesight is likely what sparked the Cambrian explosion billions of years ago (when the number of species on earth exploded, probably because one predator developed eyesight, causing all others to adapt accordingly. Yellow dots on a snake indicate “Stay Away!” the same way a front parking lot on a main street does.

In Massachusetts, where many mill cities ring Boston, even stretching into Manchester, the cities are in a great position to cater to a working class population priced out of the metropolitan center. Housing is expensive in Boston, and less so in its suburban cities, so these places will probably never suffer from a lack of people (assuming policies are in place to discourage sub-suburban construction, as in the suburbs of the suburban cities themselves, as they should be). Lowell adopted a form based code for the Hamilton Canal District, which should turn into a fine example of what it possible in these places.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:59 AM   #18
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

I updated the map and added a view major things and made it easier to read. TAKE A LOOK!

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=...35318,0.084543
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:19 PM   #19
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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I've only ever driven through Fall River and am not familiar with the city, but looking at the map and from what I've read here and on Wikipedia, it sounds like Fall River needs to demolish its highways, not its mills. I wouldn't count on I-195 going away any time soon, but converting Rt. 79 to an urban boulevard and getting rid of the maze of ramps at the waterfront would be huge. It seems like it would also restore a (sense of) connection between the brick mills in that area and the downtown.
Yeah, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. The highways bisect the town and separate the city from its waterfront (or as you put it, the sense of being connected). Hopefully the city doesn't blow the chance to take them down. What's scary (to me, anyway) is that there is a real fear among many residents that removing 79 will be a bad thing as they feel (though there's no evidence to substantiate the claims) that traffic will be worse. Removing 79 would be huge. 195 can be manageable if they can eventually build a deck over most of it (in the city center). They've got a deck at City Hall, but I don't think it'll be feasible for a developer to deck it completely for a long time (with cheap space available all over the city).

Quote:
The stone mills along Plymouth & Pleasant seem like they're already well-used, and unusual compared to the brick mills found elsewhere in most mill cities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Those are the sort of spaces and buildings that people want to work, live and shop in these days. While they're not clustered in a single area like in Lowell or Manchester, the seem to be pretty close to downtown and seem like they have the potential to anchor neighborhoods around them.
Those mills are very unique in that they're made from local granite as opposed to brick. They can be pretty nice looking when all fixed up. They're used moderately well in cases, but it used to be better. In the 80s and 90s they were full of factory outlets that were such a big draw, I remember living in Maine and having people tell me (when they found out where I was from) there used to be buses from Portland that went down to the outlets in Fall River. When I was little, my mother took me to them for all my school shopping. Today, little of that remains. My favorite retail there is the Oddarh Plaza. It's a small shopping center that's completely Asian. It includes an Asian grocery store, a jewelry store with all sorts of stuff imported from Cambodia and Vietnam, a Nail Place (of course), a video store with Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese movies (best posters ever) and a restaurant that serves the best Pho I've had outside of Southeast Asia. Still, there used to be so much more. I feel that these mills are full of potential. Like you said, they're close to downtown (walking distance) and can be neighborhood anchors.

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I grew up in Manchester, which despite receiving awards for later preservation of its millyard, allowed about half its mills to be demolished in the name of urban renewal. While most of the largest buildings remain, nearly all of the smaller buildings--the ones that defined streets and lent the larger buildings a more human scale--were lost. And they can never be rebuilt. The Millyard there is a bustling economic center for the city during the workday, but it doesn't function as a neighborhood or mixed-use district.
That's a shame, though I've read good things about the Millyard. I have family in Manch. but don't get up there enough. Fall River is down to 60 something of its original 100+ mills. Not so bad, but I'm fairly certain I'll see more demolished as the time goes on. The lack of a human scale is a BIG problem. It still doesn't mean they can't be modified to have more of a human scale though. The mills along Anawan street near the waterfront do, actually have a fairly human scale. Opening up bricked up doors would be a huge improvement and it can be done. They would work best as a neighborhood as they are along narrow, cobbled streets. The ones out along Plymouth and Pleasant are more along the lines of the Mill Yard (massive sprawling complex) but not quite as large.

This is the largest complex in Fall River. It's currently moderately well occupied, but does need some major improvements. I feel like a developer could do well to turn the upper floors into residences (maybe some office space) and leave the ground floors as retail. They could easily turn many of the driveways and parking lots into bricked and tree-lined pedestrian only walkways with storefronts and office entrances facing the walkway. Maybe build a parking garage to concentrate parking in only one or two areas while leaving the rest open as pedestrian only. While it may never be a traditional neighborhood center, it could have 24 hour mixed use life.

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Before considering the demolition of mills, Fall River residents and planners would do well to look at places like Manchester and Lowell. Learn from their mistakes and successes. But don't let the heritage of the city fall in the name of urban renewal or economic development--it is preserving and adapting that heritage that will fuel economic development and neighborhood revitalization.
Agreed. Manchester and Lowell have succeeded because of their preservation efforts. Personally, I think Manchester and Lowell have better urban bones than Fall River. Still, Fall River has a lot of room to improve.

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Again, I'm not familiar with Fall River or New Bedford, but I've felt that they might fall into the same category of sister cities like Lowell and Lawrence, and maybe even Hartford and Springfield, where one city might make a comeback while the other continues a decline. From what I've heard, I've long assumed that New Bedford would make a comeback while Fall River continued to slide. It takes engaged citizens to prevent that from happening.
It's easy to lump Fall River in with New Bedford because they are so close together and as a result have some cultural similarities. Growing up in the area, I even did it. Where I think they differ from sisters like Lawrence and Lowell (or Hartford and Springfield) is that their roots are actually quite different from each other. Lowell and Lawrence are planned industrial cities on the Merrimack a few miles apart. Springfield and Hartford were founded around the same time on nearby sites along the Connecticut River and developed side by side.

Fall River and New Bedford don't share those common roots. New Bedford was settled and incorporated decades before Fall River. It was, above all else, a seaport city. It was a fishing port, but Whaling is what really spurred the city's primary growth. As the whaling industry declined, the city utilized its location at the mouth of a river and its seaport to adopt textiles and remain an economic power.

Fall River, on the other hand, didn't really experience rapid growth until the textile boom in the late 19th century and it grew primarily as a textile manufacturing center.

The differences are clear if you visit. Fall River's downtown area is surrounded by large mill complexes. New Bedford has far fewer mill complexes than Fall River (19 in NB to over 60 in Fall River), and all of its mill complexes are a mile or more from downtown. The city centers look very different from one another (it's too bad there's no streetview in the Whaling District) as New Bedford really feels and looks the part of a seaport city and Fall River doesn't.

Again, it's really an oddity because they are so close. If you're outside of the South Coast, you rarely hear one mentioned without the other. Even in the Fall River/ New Bedford area they're often associated with each other. But a visit to each and it's quickly apparent how different they are.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:25 PM   #20
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Re: Fall River, MA-- The rebirth of a mill town

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Originally Posted by LordStanleyCup2011 View Post
I updated the map and added a view major things and made it easier to read. TAKE A LOOK!

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=...35318,0.084543
Nice! My only suggestion with the streetcar would be, if you're planning one, don't forget to run a line up Pleasant Street and through Flint Village. Not only is the area densely populated, but Pleasant Street is a real urban neighborhood center retail, restaurants and shops. You could also run one up Bedford (though it's not as important as Pleasant and the others) so I can ride the Streetcar to Graham's for a hot dog, Marzilli's for a meatball sub, or Billy's Cafe for Chourico and Chips and no last call.

You could also add in the project to restore the Quequechan River to flowing. That would be a great improvement. You'd also be able to extend the bike path from where UMass Dartmouth and Meditech are to the downtown area (and over to the bridge).
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