Concord’s award winning Main Street Project is a huge success – and I am proud of my firm’s contribution to that project that has made Concord the next great place to visit and work. The doubters are gone, and the power of imagination and vision is now clear.
Now with the dividends coming in, the question remains: now what? Here are some thoughts to keep the good times rolling!
Upgrade the side streets. Walk a block off Main Street and it is “back to the future” – ugly asphalt sidewalks, poor lighting, no trees, and dodgy snow removal. These side streets were never part of the original project, and certainly could be made more attractive and welcoming with better lighting, sidewalks and a few trees. Spread the love. The same is true for the block between the Capital Center for the Arts and the big “Main Street” banner – while it is nice to have a throw-back to see just how much nicer the new portion is, the difference is a bit jarring.
Light ‘em up! There had been talk of lighting buildings so you could see downtown from the highway. There was an attempt to light the trees. There was an attempt to add a water feature – not one of these came to be – but now would be a wonderful time to add some pizzazz to our incredible Main Street.
Fill the squares. The success of the art market is a lesson of how regular events are great for downtown. Why not have a regular antiques market, or flea market to help fill Eagle Square and other venues.
Invest in preservation. No one ever traveled to see parking lot, and yet dozens of historic homes have been demolished in recent years to make way for empty lots. Beyond the fact that we have a workforce housing shortage, turning historic buildings into parking lots is a terrible idea – and over the past decade the historic fabric on Main Street on both sides of downtown has been damaged by swapping historic homes for gas stations. We need to invest in our past, it is part of our future. Maybe start with the Gas Holder…
Work with the State on the expansion of 93 project- it is a huge opportunity to undo the errors of the past, and to clean up Concord’s Front Door. Every Friday and every Saturday thousands of out-of-staters whoosh past Concord, and the view from the road is not our best foot forward: The old rail right of way, back of the Storrs Street Plaza – and a few views of the river. But this project can help Concord put a new outward facing welcome sign.
Label the parking garages. For the most part, downtown garages do not have big signs over the main entrances with the name of the garage. The new names are great, but unless they are labeled, the names won’t stick, and out of towners may not find them.