Mark Hamin - Chair, Frank Sleegers - Member, Scott Hanson - Member
The City of Springfield, Massachusetts is one of the largest cities in western Massachusetts, and was established on the Connecticut River for trading and as a fur-collecting post. In 18th and early 19th century, it experienced an industrial boom and became a regional financial center. Springfield became a major railroad center and grew to become the regional center for banking, finance, and courts. However, in mid-19th century Springfield suffered due to the flooding of the Connecticut River and the disinvestment in industry. These resulted in an urban sprawl as people started moving away from heart of the city.
Now, once again, the city is trying to revitalize its downtown and neighboring areas to attract people by improving different types of social and cultural amenities. In this thesis, the author studies the relation of the city with its natural asset 'The Connecticut Riverfront' which can be a great place to attract people towards the heart of the city. The author has also researched the various reasons causing this natural asset to be underutilized for several years. In addition, the author also explores the possibilities of connecting the Springfield city and downtown to the riverfront, providing safe and undisturbed access mainly to pedestrians, physically challenged people, and bike riders. Research shows that the existing transportation paths and presence of industrial area are the major barriers discouraging people from reaching the riverfront.
In order to overcome this problem, firstly, the author suggests the rezoning of the riverfront area by changing the existing industrial zone into a business B zone which will allow various types of businesses. Secondly, the author proposes relocation of most of the existing business to open up the land for new development. The proposed development will include dedicated residential areas with semi-private green open spaces, mix-use development with street-front retail area to provide safety on the roads, a dedicated retail complex to serve the new development, demolition and renovation of abandoned buildings, and some activities on the riverfront such as restaurants, bars, cafes, art galleries, exhibition spaces, plazas, and green public open spaces. The connection from city to riverfront will be improved to provide better and safe accessibility. This proposal will increase the residential area in the heart of the city, which will also increase safety in this area.
Residents and visitors can take advantage of this beautiful natural asset thereby bringing Springfield city's waterfront in the limelight. Lastly, this proposal lays the foundation for further development of the riverfront area due to increased accessibility and safety.