Report: Mass Bay Campus Should Be At Corner of Concord & Howard Downtown
The recommendation of the Urban Land Institute's technical advisory panel is that the best location for Mass Bay Community College's new downtown Framingham campus, to revitalize the area, is at Concord and Howard streets.
The best way to revitalize downtown Framingham is for Mass Bay Commnity College to establish its campus at the corner of Concord and Howard streets, recommended the technical advisory panel of the Urban Land Institute.
The panel spend all day Tuesday in Framingham, including touring several sites downtown and made its recommendation to Selectmen Tuesday night.
The corner of Concord and Howard streets is the current location of Sewfisticated, the former Fabric Place.
Mike Gatlin, chair of the Framingham's Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, said the Panel's final report is expected in about six weeks.
Panel member Ryan Pace, an attorney, said Framingham has a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" with Mass Bay Community College's plans to create a downtown Framingham campus.
"I can't overstate that opportunity," said Pace. "It is a transformative opportunity. The best place for the campus is the corner of Concord and Howard Street."
Pace said it is important the campus is not an island and that the Concord & Howard location accomplishes that. It would "instantly infuse people downtown," said Pace.
It would also be very close to the MBTA commuter rail.
The other major recommendation of the panel was to have the Salvation Army, located across the street from the recommend college campus site, become a "real community center" where people gather.
"The Salvation Army has to be turned from an image negative into an image positive," said panel co-chair Barry Abramson.
In October 2012, Gov. Deval Patrick came to Framingham to announce $22 million in capital funds for Mass Bay Community College to explore opportunities for a permanent Framingham campus and to construct a new allied health academic building.
A request for proposal will be issued later by the state and the college, but the proposed campus would be about 130,000 to 150,000 square feet with a multi-level garage that has about 100 parking spaces per level.
The Panel said it looked at other sites downtown, including the Dennison building; but felt that if the campus was located there, students would visit the college and then leave and would not help to revitalize downtown Framingham.
The panel also looked at the soon-to-be-vacated Danforth Museum of Art. The recommendation there was to consider it as re-purposed art studios.
"This is a great opportunity for Framingham's downtown to see some revitalization," said Selectman Jason Smith.