Planning Board, City Hall Library
About 20 people attended a public discussion of findings that East Second Street between Leland and Johnston avenues is in need of redevelopment.
Veena Sawant of the Nishuane Group\
Planning expert Veena Sawant of the Nishuane Group presented the highly detailed study that compared each property to Local Redevelopment Housing Law criteria. Of 41 parcels, ten had adverse conditions warranting redevelopment and all were eligible because they are in the city's Urban Enterprise Zone.
Twenty-eight of the parcels had residential buildings over 50 years old and Sawant described other conditions that signaled a need for rehabilitation.
In comments after the presentation, Rev. Paul Dean said, "Thanks for allowing this to happen."
Dean said former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs brought him on as project manager in 2012 and he had taken part in a study by Dr. Roland Anglin of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.. His church, Visions of God Family Worship, had formed a community development corporation.
"We have made a vast difference," he said, citing youth employment and formation of a merchants' association. "People have been promised that something will happen."
The neighborhood has better lighting and new road paving, he said.
A resident asked what was next following the new study and Planning Director Bill Nierstedt explained. With the study completed and public participation, the board upon adoption of the study could recommend it to the City Council. The council might then ask the Planning Board to make a redevelopment plan. With more public input, the plan will be written and referred back to the council for a hearing and adoption on two readings. If all goes well, final adoption of a redevelopment plan could happen in December.
All that will be the framework for actual development, he said.
One benefit could be that property owners will invest in renovations in order to gain a five-year tax abatement. The plan could spur developers to launch projects in the neighborhood. In fact, a dilapidated former meat market was recently demolished and a developer will be seeking Zoning Board of Adjustment approvals for a mixed-use project with 20 apartments and a 7,500 square feet of commercial space.
After the presentation and public discussion, the Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the study and recommend it to the council for further action.