By Aaron Keebaugh
“We want Broadway to change. We want to improve it,” Economic Director John Festa said at the opening of a meeting of the Broadway Advisory Council (BAC) in the Council Chamber last Tuesday afternoon.
Last fall BAC, a group consisting of city officials and local business owners, unveiled a three-year beautification plan for Broadway that they hope will reenergize Revere’s central business district. Last Tuesday the group met to provide an update on the project plans and gather input.
Phase one of the plan—construction of 29 ornamental lights on Broadway—is underway but still in the works. Festa said that construction of the lights—which will span Hyde St. to Central Ave.—has been delayed because materials, like the cement bases that support the lights, had not come in by the original late-November completion date.
The cement bases are now in, one member informed those in attendance last Tuesday. And by conservative estimates, the bases, which take roughly two weeks to install, should be in place by early April. The lights, Festa noted, are double LED lights and are presently scheduled to be completed by mid-June.
The second phase of the project will include renovating the streetscape and including new crosswalks, curb ramps, and street trees. And the final phase—year three of the project—involves revamping Broadway storefronts so there is some continuity and “consistency” on the streetscape—uniformity of sign design and awning colors that “still allows for some creativity,” Chamber of Commerce President Bob Upton said. Several members noted as a model the work of Jamie Russo, who has been developing the multistory building on the corner of Broadway and Pleasant St.
Festa said that the city hopes to provide incentives for business owners on Broadway to renovate their storefronts. He told BAC members that he hoped funding for the incentives would come by way of the mitigation package, should the state grant a license for the planned resort casino to Suffolk Downs.
But the limited parking on Broadway poses a problem for the revitalization, BAC members noted. “We’re curbing that,” Festa said.
The group discussed several alternatives to street parking, including both public and private spaces. One option is to develop 58 parking spaces behind People’s Bank, because it is centrally located on Broadway. Another proposes making use of the current McKinley School site, where an estimated 32 spaces could fit where the trailers presently rest. Another proposal: Demolish the old police station to create 39 parking spaces.
Festa also discussed using the municipal lot but adding more lighting to it (more attractive to visitors).
The new streetscape designs for Broadway involve sidewalk bump-outs that would result in the loss of parking spaces. Councillor-at-Large Robert Haas noted that some bump-outs, depending on their placement, eat up two parking spaces.
But Festa said that such bump-outs will only result in the loss of 7 to 9 street parking spaces on Pleasant Street. A parking lot on the site of the old station would bring a net gain of 30 spaces, he added.
With the streetscape renovations, “We want to try to bring in a flavor of Revere Beach,” Festa summarized.
“It’s been an important vision for me and my administration to make Broadway, our central business district, a vibrant, more beautiful place where visitors can come shop and spend some time,” Mayor Rizzo told BAC members.