Tag Archives: Next Steps Summit

Envisioning a better Arms Park & how to get there (literally)

New Hampshire may not be getting a casino this year (for better or worse), but that doesn’t mean that cities like Manchester can’t do more to attract visitors, not to mention residents and workers. Last month we wrote about all the good things happening and being planned in downtown Manchester, and how city leaders–beginning with the mayor–need to take more of a, well, leading role in guiding the future of downtown if it’s really going to thrive.

Iconic view up Stark Street to City Hall Plaza from Arms Park past Mill Girl Statue - photo by Brad Danielson
It’s a great view from the Millyard to Elm Street, but there’s not much actually tying the two together – photo by Brad Danielson

One of the major things that city leaders need to promote, we wrote, is a better connection between the Millyard and riverfront with Elm Street and the heart of downtown. This was identified as one of the most important topics at Intown Manchester’s Next Steps Summit in February, and we wrote last month that we’d be talking about that idea more the following week. Well, clearly we’re late on that, but here are some specific ideas of what how that could be accomplished.

We first wrote about the need to bridge the divide–literally the former series of canals–between Elm Street and the Millyard back in September 2011. And since then, we’ve been glad to hear that need mentioned by many other people and organizations–connecting the riverfront, the employment center of the Millyard, and the nightlife and dining center of Elm Street would remarkably transform downtown Manchester.

The riverfront is only about a quarter-mile–only three or four blocks–from Elm Street, but the desolate, highway-like expanse of Canal Street, and the lack of any retail, dining or other attractions along the way makes the distance feel much farther. It’s not a pleasant walk or an easy drive (and parking is tough at both ends) between the Millyard and Elm Street. The free Green DASH bus that loops between the two is great, but in order for the two areas to really feel tied together, there needs to be an enjoyable walking experience along streets that run through the old Amoskeag rowhouses like Spring, Stark and Market. In the block between Canal and Elm, those streets are beautiful, tree-lined and even feature some small businesses and restaurants (though not nearly enough). If the City takes the lead to improve Canal Street and promote more retail and dining options both in the old rowhouses and along the riverfront in the Millyard, development and private investment will follow.

Here’s a satellite image of what the area looks like now:

Canal Street_existing

Continue reading Envisioning a better Arms Park & how to get there (literally)

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Things are looking up downtown–now city leaders need to step up

Tower at Lofts at Mill No. 1 – photo from Brady Sullivan

For the first time in its 175-year history, high-end apartments have found a home in the Amoskeag Millyard. New coffee shops and upscale lunch spots have popped up along the riverfront in the Millyard and on Elm Street. The Manchester Food Co-op┬áis moving closer to opening a community-owned natural grocery store downtown. Hippo de Mayo, which has quickly become one of downtown’s biggest events of the year, is just a month away. And the mayor is even talking about the prospects of a downtown movie theater.

Before the new guiding plan for downtown is released, some of the things envisioned at February’s Next Steps Summit are coming to fruition. The summit, attended by over 100 people, sought community input as Intown Manchester prepares to draft a plan to guide the growth of downtown in the coming years. Housing was touted as a catalyst for future growth downtown, and for helping the area grow beyond its dining, nightlife and entertainment base.

As one of the city’s major developers, Arthur Sullivan of Brady Sullivan, said: “Once more people start living downtown again, you are going to see a downtown renaissance, and it won’t just be restaurants.

Continue reading Things are looking up downtown–now city leaders need to step up