April 19, 2004

Transformation of a Waterfront

Perth Amboy, N.J., is about to get a major new revitalization project. The $600 million mixed-use waterfront plan was "designed by architects advocating 'New Urbanism,' which, in the words of one of them, Ted Liebman, 'is really about providing people with the kind of lifestyle that preceded today's overdependence on the automobile,' " the New York Times reports.

"The project will include low- and mid-rise condominium buildings, town houses, duplexes and triplexes, all with shared courtyards, underground parking, and access to three waterside parks, retail shops, an international market selling ethnic food, restaurants — and, eventually, a hotel."

The idea isn't yupscale gentrification or "creating a gated community," Liebman told the Times -- that would be out of character for a place that has a history of housing new immigrants (not unlike, say, Framingham's downtown). This revitalization project is designed to create a community "with pedestrian-friendly streets, trees, recreation areas and an accessible downtown," Liebman said. "It's about a place that encourages people to leave their cars behind and go out on foot to socialize, relax, shop and play."

Precisely what's bringing life back into places like Waltham's Moody Street -- and what downtown Framingham needs. More asphalt won't do the trick.

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