Downtown Planning

MA Downtown Initiative Program

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DHCD’s Massachusetts Downtown Initiative (MDI) offers a range of services and assistance to communities seeking help on how to revitalize their downtowns.   The program offers technical assistance grants to communities in the commonwealth.  Below is the link to the MA Downtown Initiative Program Website and a few samples of reports generated from past technical assistance grants awarded to communities.   It is important to note the technical assistance program is offered to NON-CDBG Entitlement communities ONLY.


City of Amesbury Wayfinding 

Town of Reading: Creative Economy

Town of Maynard: Economics of Downtown

Town of Westminster:  Design

Town of North Reading 2015 Successful MDI Grant Application [Narrative]


Urban Land Institute-Boston Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs)

The Urban Land Institute Boston offers technical assistance to communities for the fee of $5,000 and provides them with in-depth reports on master planning, placemaking, financial incentives, achieving a broader tax base and market feasibility for the community;  of how to revitalize and/or plan their downtown Technical Assistance Panel Reports and Presentations to communities within the Commonwealth.   Below are links with information relative to the application process, with samples of reports and presentations ULI has generated for the Merrimack Valley Region.

Methuen Final TAP ULI Report

City of Methuen Technical Assistance Presentation


Downtown Parking Studies  

Below please find links to downtown parking studies completed for various communities throughout the Merrimack Valley and the Commonwealth.

downtown andover parking study_Page_001





City of Haverhill Parking Program Review

Newburyport Parking Impact Study

Town of Hudson Downtown Parking Study

Town of Amherst Draft Downtown Parking Report

City of Lynn Downtown Parking Study


Placemaking Projects   

Newburyport-WaterfrontWhat IS Placemaking?   When Project for Public Spaces (PPS) surveyed website visitors about what Placemaking means to them, they found that it is a crucial and deeply-valued process for those who feel intimately connected to the places in their lives. Placemaking shows people just how powerful their collective vision can be. It helps them to re-imagine everyday spaces, and to see anew the potential of parks, downtowns, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings.
This issues has become so important in creating meaningful spaces, that companies and organizations are “popping up” to support communities in their efforts. One such organization is the Better Block Foundation. The Better Block Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. Check them out, in addition to the other projects that communities are engaging in to create more sustainable, viable spaces.

Cambridge: Parking Day

Somerville: Davis Square Master Plan

Gloucester: HarborWalk

  • Merrimack Valley Planning Commission
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