City urged to expedite residential development in downtown Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 23, 2005

Suffolk needs to aggressively move forward on plans to boost residential development downtown-and now is the time to do it, an urban revitalization expert advised.

&uot;It’s key to bringing about the revitalization of downtown,&uot; said Ray Gindroz, principal with Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh. He briefed the Suffolk City Council on the Down-town/Civic Center Initiative Plan during Wednesday’s work session at the Suffolk Conference Center.

&uot;The market is hot and it’s not going to last forever,&uot; he said.

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&uot;I’m encouraging cities to capitalize on this now.&uot;

With the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts opening next spring, the city should focus on improvements to the Civic Center community. That area includes Prentis, Clay and Pine streets.

Gindroz recommended the city consider opening Clay Street – now a one-way street – to travel in both directions, with parking on one side of the road.

He envisions the city’s new downtown library being built on Clay Street, next to the Thomas Jefferson School.

The city should also implement programs to encourage area landowners to make property improvements, Gindroz added.

People living downtown is important to protect the growing commercial investment downtown, he said.

Elizabeth McCoury, the city’s downtown development director, agreed.

&uot;Commercial and retail businesses would all benefit from more residential development,&uot; she said.

&uot;Residential development within the core business district is critical to building a more walkable downtown.

&uot;The new project on West Washington Street is going to be a tremendous suc-cess…because more people will be able to walk to get their basic goods and services.&uot;