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A Revitalization Study Main Street Returns for the Future Gardner, Massachusetts

This Regional Planning studio project was undertaken for the Gardner Industrial Foundation ("the Foundation"). The Foundation requested that we make development recommendations for a 20 acre site along Main Street, adjacent to the "Central Business District" of Gardner, Massachusetts. The Site, containing mostly vacant manufacturing facilities, is a large and visually significant part of the downtown area. It is visible from Route 2, the main transportation highway in the region and is the "gateway property" to Main Street and the Central Business District after exiting Route 2 and heading downtown. The Site is fast becoming an eyesore given the recent departure of GEM Industries one of the last active concerns on the premises. The scope of our services is to recommend development options and create a conceptual site design which will improve Gardner's economy and enhance the visual quality of its downtown. In order to make development recommendations, the Gardner Project Team studied three principal areas: (1) the community including its history and demographics, (2) business growth trends and the economy of Gardner and two nearby business centers, and (3) the physical aspects of the Site and its context. Once options were developed they were translated into a physical site design. This report will begin with the Gardner community and will be followed by the economic analysis conducted. These two factors influenced the initial selection of the development recommendations. The physical aspects of the Site and the surrounding context were the final factors shaping development recommendations. The characteristics of the Site will be discussed throughout the report particularly as they relate to recommendations. However, the bulk of information pertaining to the Site is contained in the conceptual site design section (VI. The Design).