I have explained this plan to countless politicians over the years, nobody in this town ever thinks big enough.
Route 6 has been the center of commerce in Bristol since before the “development” of the 60′s. If we are going to bring people into the geographical area that includes the mall property, we have to start at route 6 and build southward toward the mall area. The most valuable piece of commercial real estate in Bristol right now is the southwest corner of route 6 and North Main. It remains an empty field.
Don’t expect any fancy marketing or pretty pictures. We don’t need pie in the sky dreamy looking buildings and street scape. We need to develop real estate infrastructure comparable to the way we develop industrial parks ( road ways water, sewer, utilities and building lots that can be sold to individuals and groups that present the best proposals. Here is my plan.
1) Dead end Federal Street east of the railroad tracks.
2) Every property on the south side of route 6 from the tracks to Federal Street should be assessed and analyzed for rehab or taken by eminent domain. The same goes for the few residential properties on Federal Street west of the railroad tracks. Federal Street west of the tracks becomes part of the new Downtown footprint along with the previously mentioned property on the north side of route 6.
3) The railroad bed should be moved as far east of it’s right of way as possible, preferably bordered on the west with a sheer retaining wall. There could be state and federal transportation dollars available for this particularly if commuter rail becomes a reality.
4) The decrepit commercial property on Center street that borders the tracks to the east (the Zipp property?) should also be either taken by eminent domain or maybe it could be swapped for property in the vacant industrial park on Middle street. It boggles my mind that any plan to rehab downtown doesn’t include eliminating this eyesore.
5) Center street should be regraded so that it bridges over the railroad tracks. This final step creates a continuous mass of marketable real estate from route 6 all the way to the mall site. It also brings the railroad into play for future commuter use.