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Creating Livable Neighborhoods in Old Hill and Six Corners, Springfield, Massachusetts

This report documents the work of the Graduate Urban Design Studio in Springfield’s Old Hill and Six Corners neighborhoods with 12,000 inhabitants. Both neighborhoods are challenged by a very low average household income, housing foreclosures, lot vacancies, lack of substantial home ownership, high traffic volumes and poor quality of open space. The primary goal of the project was to develop a vision to renew Old Hill and Six Corners to improve livability for their residents and create new opportunities for housing, recreation, working and commercial activities. Crucial keys to attaining this goal will be creating a stronger sense of place throughout the neighborhood and improved connectivity to the existing public open spaces like the Watershops Pond and the proposed recreational trail “Arc of Recreation”. Four physical design objectives were explored: Creating a vision for livable streets - a more livable streetscape improves walkability, urban ecology, commercial activities and provides an enriching sensual experience. Creating a better physical environment for commercial and business activities – attractive streets create a new identity and support existing businesses. Creating and improving a pedestrian and bicycle oriented circulation and coherent public open space system. Exploring new housing opportunities - new sites for housing integrate the student population in the neighborhoods. We are proud that our proposals were recognized after a tornado hit Springfield in June 2011. REBUILDSPRINGFIELD targeted the tornado-impacted neighborhoods in a collaborative effort with engaged citizens and community groups. Our plans created a valuable planning and design framework to rebuild the City.