DBA learns about plans for Olde Towne revitalization

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 27, 2003


Suffolk City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposed plan to revitalize the Olde Towne area of downtown at its April 16 meeting.

Bob Goomis, principal long-range planner for the city, gave a presentation on the project at Wednesday’s meeting of the Downtown Business Association.

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The project, according to Goomis, follows the same plans as other neighborhood and village initiatives undertaken throughout Suffolk over the past few years.

Planning got under way about a year ago with the appointment of a steering committee for the project. Meetings were held to assess the area’s strengths and weaknesses, and a design plan created based upon the input of residents.

The Olde Town area, one of the earliest neighborhoods in the city, basically encompasses the area bounded by Pinner Street, the backs of commercial property along East Washington and North Main Street, Moore Avenue and the railroad tracks. It is replete with what Goomis described as &uot;architectural gems, gems in the rough and areas of concern.&uot;

Goomis said the project was divided into several separate geographic areas, among them: The Pinner Street gateway – just across the bridge over the railroad tracks headed toward East Washington; Newport Street and Holladay Street; Neighborhood Square at Pear and Pinner streets; Holladay Street, Joyner Park and the train station; and Franklin, Bank and Grace Streets.

Among highlights of the plan are increasing the percentage of homeownership, reducing crime and traffic speed; cleaning up rental properties; enforcing building codes; creating neighborhood entrances and the installation of historic lighting, such as that on Washington Street.

Goomis noted that much of the plan involves long-range projects, but that there are many smaller projects that could be undertaken almost immediately. Among the long-range projects, the plan calls for vacating Commerce Street and erecting a large, covered parking structure to address a need of downtown businesses.

If adopted by City Council, it will be incorporated into the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

Goomis noted that $50,000 will be available to begin work in the capital budget July 1.