September 28, 2011

Downtown plan hearings slated soon

Joint Press Release from City Hall and Renaissance Downtowns, just issued:

Since the execution of the Preferred Developer Agreement between Renaissance Downtowns and the City of Bristol in May of 2010, significant progress has been made in revitalizing Downtown Bristol. City officials, along with Renaissance Downtowns,  embarked upon a collaborative and comprehensive year-long planning process  that included dozens of public and community organization presentations, and countless planning workshops. In addition , the formation of the the nation’s first Crowdsourced Placemaking process, better known as Bristol Rising, has brought over 1,100 members of the Bristol community together giving the public the opportunity to provide valuable input to the planning process. All of this work and community input (which continues each day) led to the April, 28, 2011 submission and presentation of the initial Concept Plan for  downtown in a joint public meeting of the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation and the City Council.
Following the Submission, all City Boards and Departments were given a 60 day period to review and submit comments regarding the concept plan. In addition, Renaissance and its community partner, Bristol Rising continued to garner feedback from the community at large on Concept Plan recommendations while implementing near-term initiatives such as the highly successful Pop-Up Piazza Festival which drew over 15,000 attendees. Comments from the City Agencies and Departments as well as community comments were reviewed with the Renaissance team and revisions to the plan are being made for the final plan submission at months end. 
Following the submission, the BDDC and City Council will hold public meetings where they will vote on the Concept Plan for downtown. Those meetings are scheduled for October 6, 2011 at 6:30 p.m., in the second floor Staff Lounge at City Hall and October 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the first floor in City Hall.  It is important to recognize that a vote to approve the Concept Plan simply means that the Public/Private Partnership agree on the general mix of uses (residential, retail & commercial etc.) for the Depot Square Site. This allows Renaissance to work with financial institutions and other development partners on implementation of the revitalization efforts. However, Renaissance will still be required to adhere to standard policies and procedures for the development including approvals by all necessary land
use boards. For the most part, the proposed uses for the downtown area are already permitted under current zoning regulations including the Depot Square parcel. Depot Square is the only land in the downtown that Renaissance has development rights to and the remaining parcels located downtown that Renaissance has led a collaborative visioning process for still remain under private ownership. Private owners are under no obligation to implement the Renaissance Plan on their properties however the Renaissance team has worked with approximately 100 property owners to ensure the Concept Plan for downtown is as comprehensive as possible. It is this comprehensive process that has led to Renaissance receiving letters of intent to open businesses downtown from retail users in excess of 50,000 square feet of space including a National Dinner Theatre company which fits the desires of Bristol Rising members to see a dinner theatre as well as a small movie theatre option in Downtown. In addition, Renaissance has been in discussions with several office users and most importantly has been working with the Bristol Rising members to address the need for new walkable housing options throughout downtown. In fact, over 40% of the Bristol Rising members have expressed interest in a vibrant Downtown living option.
Once the Final Concept Plan is approved Renaissance can begin preparing for phase one of construction. As noted, the initial phase will be subject to the same approval process that the City already has in place for new construction. The agreement between Renaissance and the City calls for Renaissance to only purchase portions of the Depot Square site as these portions are ready to be built, while the remainder of the property will continue to be owned by the City of Bristol. As the project progresses ,we will have further information relative to items such as project financing and infrastructure funding prior to construction commencing.
Renaissance Downtowns takes pride in the level of public participation that has occurred, and will continue to occur in this process. For more information, please visit the Renaissance office on the first floor of City Hall at 111 North Main Street, call 860-582-0030 or log on to

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

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