Bergen Record Article on the Englewood Master Plan
I wanted to share an article with you that appeared in The Bergen Record this Friday, March 1st on the progress that the Master Plan process has been making. As you know, over the course of well over a year, the City has been embarking on historic Master Plan process.
Drawing on Citywide meetings with the enitre community as well as with key stakeholder groups, the professionals have been hard at work articulating our vision. Now some of that vision is beginning to take shape and form into specific recommendations.
I would urge you to give the article a read and see some of the exciting developments taking place.
The full text of the article is pasted below for your reading convenience.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
Planners: Englewood future should center on BergenPAC
FRIDAY MARCH 1, 2013, 1:50 PM
BY REBECCA BAKER
ENGLEWOOD — The city can remake itself as a cultural hotspot by creating a district around BergenPAC and rezoning part of the south side so artists and entrepreneurs can live and work there, planning consultants have recommended.
The consultants, hired to overhaul the city’s Master Plan, presented an arts-centered vision for the future of Englewood to its Planning Board on Thursday night. The board will hold a public hearing on the plan, which serves a blueprint for development, on March 28.
Consultants from Brown & Keener, a Philadelphia-based urban design and planning firm, and Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit advisory group, said the city should center downtown improvement efforts around BergenPAC, which draws 250,000 people to the city each year. They suggested creating an “avenue of the arts” on North Van Brunt Street, where BergenPAC and City Hall are located, and repurposing City Hall as an arts venue.
They also suggested the city develop a public arts program and try to get landlords to turn vacant storefronts into temporary art galleries. They encouraged music venues and small theatres downtown, as well as support businesses such as art supply stores, cafes and printing shops.
“People go to the BergenPAC and go home,” Brown & Keener Planner Neil Desai told Planning Board members. “How do you get them to stay?”
Mayor Frank Huttle, who sits on the Planning Board, said the city should capitalize on the success of BergenPAC, which he described as a “major economic engine” in Englewood.
“We have many assets, and one of those assets is the arts,” he said. “I think the concept [of an arts district] is pretty exciting.”
The consultants also had a vision for south Englewood, which has two large apartment complexes, a hotel, a host of light industrial businesses and vacant buildings.
They suggested creating a “live-work district” where artists and entrepreneurs could reside in their workplaces. They also recommended the city create “business incubators,” with low-cost leases for startup firms, in a group of low-rise buildings on Dean Street between Bancker and Honeck streets.
“The proposed district on Dean Street would complement the arts by providing live-work opportunities, particularly for artists,” the consultants said in their report.
Other recommendations focused on parking. The city should double downtown meter times to two hours, hang better signs leading to the Dean Street garage and consider building a new municipal lot on the west side of Williams Street, the consultants said in their report.
Two city-owned school buildings near downtown should be preserved and reused, the consultants said. The Liberty School, on Tenafly Road, could include government offices, community and recreational activities and arts-related uses, while the boarded-up Lincoln School, on West Englewood Avenue, could be redeveloped with the fire department building next door as apartments, offices or arts space.
The city bought both buildings from the school district a decade ago for $11.5 million. The district vacated the Lincoln School in 2008. The Liberty School currently houses the city’s recreation department. The city is looking to build a new firehouse next to the Police Department.
Officials also should consider rezoning the area near the West Palisade Avenue traffic circle as a “downtown gateway” and create a “medical campus district” to support offices and industry connected to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
The recommendations were based on input from hundreds of residents who attended a series of workshops about the master plan last year. Municipalities are required to renew their master plans every 10 years. Englewood updated its plan in 2009, but Huttle called for a revision due to the economic changes in the city and region.