February 26, 2006

Hudson’s Revival

Globe West Weekly takes a look at Hudson's downtown revitalization, noting that "a newcomer with fresh ideas helped spark a revival in Hudson."

"Walk along Main Street and you'll find gourmet French-inspired food at Chloe's American Bistro, local artwork and one-of-a-kind gifts at Lottie Ta-dah, handmade crafts and jewelry at Serendipity, back-to-basics toys at Toy Boat (''Our motto is no batteries required"), and live jazz and folk music at Harvest Café.

The four-story Esplanade, a condo complex for people ages 55 and over, has replaced the crumbling foundations of mill buildings at the edge of downtown. Its 140 units feature granite counters and Bosch washers and sell for up to $300,000."

The piece also notes an increase in foot traffic -- almost always a good sign of how well a neighborhood business district is doing.

There's been more than $5 million in public and private money poured into Hudson's relatively small downtown. Government projects include a "canal walk."

The renaissance started in part when a town employee, Michelle Ciccolo, thought it would be a good idea to get better landscaping and street lights -- in other words, an improved pedestrian streetscape -- as part of a Rte. 62/Main Street upgrade project. Executive assistant Paul Blazar agreed, and put the idea on a Town Meeting warrant. Residents approved it. Ciccolo then began seeking -- and winning -- state grants to help improve the downtown. Hudson is in the last stages of a two-year state-sponsored program to renovate the exteriors of five downtown businesses," the article notes. "Soon businesses were adopting areas of town to beautify, leading to a landscaped alley that guides shoppers to South Street."

Framingham still keeps talking about how to improve the downtown business district. Meanwhile, other communities from Waltham to Hudson are way farther along in actually revamping their downtowns into pedestrian-appealing neighborhoods with businesses that draw people both within and beyond walking distance. No matter what community you read about, you'll find that streetscape improvements are a critical part of the mix. Things like better sidewalks, trees, improved building fronts aren't simply frills; they're vital components into turning around any neighborhood business center.

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