Sidebar The North End- PDF Version and North End RFP, The North End Plan Revised 2004

Complete and Official Version is available in PFD format. Only the first section of the report is below.

Municipal Development Office Staff
DeCarlo & Doll Report
of April, 1990
JULY 5, 1990 AND AUGUST 24, 1992

1.1 Background and History
Within the larger history of Middletown, the North End has played a special role. It is, as it always has been, an active living area within the city center, characterized by a lively mixture of people and uses. The North End has often served as a reception area and first neighborhood for groups of new arrivals.
The longest-surviving residential neighborhood in the Central Business District (CBD), the North End contains historic buildings dating from the later 18th century, as well as many fine 19th-century commercial, religious, and residential structures. The portions of Main Street that lie within the District are defined by rows of handsome three- four- and five-story commercial and residential buildings.
Middletown is a historic port city. The North End neighborhood abuts the Connecticut River and is bordered by two rail lines, each transportation corridor contributing to its reputation as the gateway to Middletown for generations. Its churches, shops, houses, buildings, and transportation links all express this historic function. Mills, warehouses, and manufacturing plants occupied larger buildings in the riverfront areas; both the Connecticut and the Mattabassett Rivers have played influential roles in the development of the North End. North End residents at the turn of the century not only worked in riverfront industries (including the Portland brownstone quarries); they also shopped in the stores of the Central Business District. The North End is still the location of major regional transportation corridors. At one point the North End was a significant transportation hub, with two railroad stations on Rapallo Avenue and several hotels, including the Arriwani and Kingston, serving the transient population. The building currently [in 2001] occupied by a display-equipment company was once the City’s trolley bureau.

In recent years, the two Connecticut Central rail lines have been improved. As rail and river traffic dwindled in the 20th century, automotive traffic took their place. Today, the North End is the place where Connecticut Routes 66, 17, and 9 come together, as well as the Arrigoni Bridge, which crosses the Connecticut River from Middletown to Portland.
As a result of the district’s history as a gateway for successive generations, many of the residential buildings in the North End exhibit the problems that accompany intensive use: damage, deterioration, overcrowding, and social pathology. Many have been abused.
In 1990, the North End, using census tract 5416 as a working geographical definition, had approximately 3900 residents and a considerable variety of businesses. The district is increasingly populated by low-income, minority and/or disadvantaged persons.
Compared with the City of Middletown as a whole, the North End has a higher proportion of residents living in group quarters, a far higher percentage of 1-person households, significantly smaller average household size, a larger percentage of households earning less than $15,000 annually, much lower median family income, and a lower percentage of owner-occupied housing units. The comparative 1980 data, using census tract 5416, for socio-economic analysis purposes, are presented in Table I below

Table I: 1980 Socio-Economic Comparison
North End City of Middletown
Total Population 2,834 39,040
Population in Group Quarters 519 (18%) 2,958(8%)
% of 1- person Households 53.7% 27.2%
Average Household Size 1.92 2.55
% of Households w/ Earnings less than $15K 73.8% 42.9%
Per Capita Income 4,944 7,157
Median Household Income 7,451 17,301
% Owner-Occupied Housing Units 12.3% 46.9%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Urban Decision Systems and Nutter Associates, Inc.

1.2 Purpose:
The purpose of the North End/CBD Project Area Urban Renewal Plan (Plan) is to develop and implement activities that will improve conditions for its residents, businesses, and visitors, as well as foster a diversity of uses that will improve the socio-economic status of the residents. The overall goal of the Plan is to achieve the mixture of uses and activities that fosters the best qualities of a vibrant urban neighborhood. The Middletown Redevelopment Agency (Agency) is empowered through the City of Middletown (City) and Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) to develop and implement this Plan for the North End/CBD Project Area (Project Area/Area).

2.1 Original Boundary Description
The Middletown North End/CBD Project Area is a parcel of land containing approximately seventy (70+) acres, situated in the City of Middletown, Middlesex County, State of Connecticut. In general, the project is bordered to the south by Court Street, to the east by Connecticut Rte. 9, to the north by Connecticut Rte. 66/Rte. 17, and to the west by the rear property lines of the lots on the west side of Main Street.
The southeastern corner of the project is a point projected to the intersection of the south streetline of Court Street and the west streetline of Connecticut Rte. 9 (Acheson Drive). From this point the project boundary runs approximately three thousand (3000+) feet northward along the west streetline of Connecticut Rte. 9 to the northeastern corner of the project. The northeastern corner of the project is located on that point which is the intersection of the west streetline of Connecticut Rte. 9 and the northern streetline of what is now Rte. 17.
From this point the project boundary runs westward along the northern streetline of Connecticut Rte 66/Rte. 17, along the north side of the off-ramp from the Arrigoni Bridge, and projects across Spring Street. From this point the project boundary jogs southward along the property lines of the lots abutting the west side of Main Street, ending at Court Street.
The project boundary runs along the west property line of lot 19 in block 17-19, crosses the railroad tracks, to block 17-28 and runs along the north property line of lot 6 to Clinton Avenue, then along the east streetline of Clinton Avenue and then east, south and east along the south property line of Lot 6 to Kings Avenue, then south along the west end of Kings Avenue and the west property line of Lots 8 through 22, then east along the south property lines of Lots 8 through 22 and Lot 12, then south along the west property line of Lots 3 and 2 and along the south property line of Lot 2 to the rear property line of lot l and projects across Grand Street to block 17-35. In block 17-35, the project boundary continues along the rear property line of lot 7-6, the rear property lines of lots 5, 3A, 3B, 47 and 46, and the west property line of Lot 46, and projects across Liberty Street to the northwest corner of Mortimer Cemetery in block 17-46. In block 17-46, the project boundary runs along the east and south property lines of Mortimer Cemetery to the rear property line of lot 5, then along the west and south property lines of Lot 5 to the rear property line of Lot 4A, then along the rear property lines of Lots 4 and 3, along the rear and west property line of lot 57, and then projects across Washington Street (Rte. 66) to block 17-51. In block 17-51, the project boundary runs southward along the rear (west) property lines of lots 21, 22, 23, and 24A, along the north, west, and south property line of lot 25, along the rear property lines of lots 26, 28, and 29, along the south property line of lot 29, southward along the rear property lines of lots 30 and 32, and projects across Court Street to the southeastern corner of the project. The southeastern corner of the project is located on the south streetline of Court Street at a point approximately ninety (90+) feet west of the west streetline of Main Street. From this point the project boundary runs eastward along the south streetline of Court Street, approximately nine hundred eighty (980+) feet to the southeast corner of the project.

The Plan was formulated to serve as a guide the City could follow to achieve a revitalization of the North End neighborhood and adjoining areas. It lays down principles that can be used for evaluating proposals and for scheduling improvements in the residential areas as well as the CBD. As a source of information and a statement of policy, it can be useful to citizen groups as well as business organizations planning investments and public officials considering project designation and funding. Further, it provides a framework for establishing priorities in light of fiscal and capital considerations, future opportunities, evolving neighborhood needs, available funding, and changing economic factors.
The goals incorporated in the Plan are based on interviews with neighborhood and city residents, municipal officials, and active business and civic leaders. They represent the level of community consensus necessary for carrying out the North End Plan successfully. It is emphasized in the Plan that efforts that require the coordination of social and physical improvement programs require a sustained commitment to public-private cooperation.
Elements of the Plan that have been implemented as of January 2001 have been marked with a flag, as follows:*.

3.1 Potential Goals and Opportunities
Potential goals and opportunities of a successful Plan include:

Immediate (Short-Range) Goals
(1) Institution by the City of a program of concentrated code enforcement for the residential properties in the North End;
(2) Acquisition and clearance of substandard, deteriorated, or incompatible structures. Disposition of building lots to developers or sponsors for development of new residential structures.. Application by the City for grant and loan funding as part of the new national Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere (HOPE) and the Home Investment Partnership Act (HOME) housing assistance programs, as well as designation of the area by the Connecticut Department of Housing as a Housing Development Zone.
(3) Institution of a property rehabilitation program.
(4) Initiative by the City and the Central Business Bureau of the Middletown County Chamber of Commerce to create a Municipal Special Services District (CGS 105A) for downtown Middletown, including the Main Street portion of the North End/Central Business District;
(5) Active participation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) and local interest groups to design new interchanges off Route 9 to lessen the impact of vehicular traffic on the residential portions of the North End neighborhood.
(6) Creation of a Design Advisory Board to advise public and private developers on the design of new and rehabilitated structures, as well as streets and other public areas. Utilization of the resources of the Preservation Board or a Historic Properties Commission as consultants regarding new construction and improvements to existing buildings.*
(7) Creation of improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation between Court Street and Rapallo Avenue, to the rear side of buildings on the east side of Main Street, where it will provide greater access to retail and other uses along Main Street as well as providing short-term parking, off-street delivery and loading areas, and improved security;
(8) Creation of a public facility that will meet the criteria of a) serving the North End community and b) being owned or maintained by the City;
(9) Streetscape improvements along Ferry and Green Streets between Main and deKoven Drive, as well as along Main Street, to further enhance the Main Street downtown retail/commercial environment and to connect it, via Ferry and Green Street, to the housing environments along these streets and the Connecticut riverfront east of deKoven Drive and Route 9;

Long-Range Goals
(10) Attracting to the old Green Street School building an arts facility, ideally through Wesleyan University-initiated investment, development, or management.
(11) Financing and construction of new Route 9 interchanges as indicated in (5) above.
(12) Design and construction of a new pedestrian bridge connection over deKoven Drive and Route 9 to existing and future public-use areas along the Connecticut River edge;
(13) Potential new boat landing and marina facilities along the Connecticut Riverfront adjacent to the Project Area.
(14) Attracting cultural activity through development of residential, performance, and studio space for artists.*

3.2 Activity Patterns
Finally, general potential exists for developing a stronger relationship between North End uses and the needs and activity patterns associated with other institutions located within the City, including Wesleyan University. This relationship is critical to the North End. Currently a number of downtown restaurants and specialty or convenience shops serve Wesleyan and the other institutions, offering the possibility for expanding the relationship.
The Plan emphasizes sensitivity to the historic fabric of the district in terms of proposed uses and preservation of building types. Each downtown has its own geographic setting and its own historical pattern of development, its landmarks, and its architectural heritage. The Plan takes account of these features. It also reflects the determination of the Redevelopment Agency to be cognizant of municipal financial concerns and to work to stabilize and improve the economic and social status of North End residents.
In recognition of the value of building on the preserved fabric of the district, and not seeking large-scale clearance, the Plan takes advantage of local assets. Thus it also reflects a realistic set of goals achievable with municipal and private resources.

4.1 General
The North End/CBD Project Area Urban Renewal Plan is designed and intended to achieve development objectives hereinafter described.

4.2 Neighborhood
The Project Area is a neighborhood of long standing in the City. Over the years, the Area has provided important housing and retail resources, but housing and other features, including the commercial retail uses along Main Street, have deteriorated and have not been modernized to meet changing needs and modes of living.
Objective #1: General rehabilitation and renewal of the North End/CBD Project Area in a manner consistent with the overall pattern of development in the neighborhood, including its historical evolution.

4.3 Buildings and Structures
Housing and other building conditions in the Project Area provide insufficient safeguards for the health and safety of Area residents and the community as a whole. These conditions result from property development, obsolescence, age, deterioration, and inadequate maintenance that discourage private improvement, rebuilding, and investment. There are buildings of substantial construction that need repair and buildings that are substandard or blighted and should be removed; some are buildings with architectural features of historical interest.
Objective #2: Elimination of substandard and deteriorated buildings and structures that adversely affect the social and economic environment and impact residents’ health and safety. Objective #3: Elimination of specific buildings, uses, and conditions that have a blighting influence on the existing of a rehabilitated neighborhood, so as to provide a secure basis for new improvements.

4.4 Housing
The North End/CBD Project Area has provided housing resources for various income groups. There are serious deficiencies in housing quality. The principal function of land in the Project Area is that of housing.
Objective #4: Rehabilitation of housing units in basically sound structures, and construction of new housing to replace deteriorated structures so that all housing units are safe, sanitary, and affordable for continued long-term use. Objective #5: Opportunity for private investment in housing rehabilitation and in new housing.

4.5 Economic Development
A significant portion of the North End neighborhood is a part of the Central Business District. Serious signs of economic and physical deterioration are evident, and such conditions may have an effect on other parts of the CBD, as well as on adjoining residential areas that have undergone renovation.
Objective #6: General improvement and revitalization of the Main Street retail and commercial environment.
Objective #7: Encouragement of increased private investment in new building construction and rehabilitation of existing properties.
Objective #8: Provision for additional jobs in retail, office, and service activities.
Objective #9: Provision of local retail and other business services sufficient to provide convenience shopping for the Project Area residents and other local and regional residents.

4.6 Parking
In general, the number of parking spaces is in short supply to support the market and land-use potential of the Main Street–CBD shopping area. Delivery and service vehicles for the commercial/retail uses off-load on Main Street, compounding traffic congestion and further reducing the availability of consumer parking. Residential parking is also in short supply; many properties lack off street parking.
Objective #10: Provision of additional and permanent off-street parking spaces for residential units.
Objective #11: Develop improved vehicular and pedestrian circulation in rear of buildings along the east side of Main Street for off-street truck loading and convenience parking for consumers.

4.7 Character
The North End/CBD Project Area has the character of historic Middletown. It is an urban district that has largely retained its traditional building fabric, in contrast to other parts of the CBD, where there has been substantial clearance activity. There are multi-story buildings of substantial construction, some with architectural features now recognized as being of historical interest. In fact, much of the area is either within a Historic District or could qualify for inclusion in a Historic District. As an older urban area, however, the Project Area suffers from a lack of building maintenance and appears cluttered with overhead wires, sidewalks that need replacement, and streets that need repaving. Many of the buildings are substandard. The area lacks attractive streetscape features. Parts of the Project Area are capable of reflecting the better architecture and urban character from the past while also serving a current useful purpose.
Objective #12: Remove other impediments to the disposition and development of land by creating unified sites for redevelopment.
Objective #13: Improve the general appearance of the North End/CBD Project Area by eliminating detracting features and providing improvements such as plantings and other streetscaping features.

Complete Version can be view in the PDF Version.

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