The City of Brockton is identifying reinvestment and development strategies to invigorate the local economy and revitalize community assets of the Campello Neighborhood.
Strategies include introducing new land-use types that increase density and diversity of use, amending existing zoning, and using development models like Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to expand commercial and residential offering and improve transportation infrastructure for pedestrians.
This effort will focus on leveraging existing assets including transportation infrastructure like the Campello MBTA station, public parks and open spaces like Keith Park, and historically relevant features such as the Franklin building. It also identifies solutions for addressing contemporary challenges impacting the neighborhood like vacant storefronts and buildings to be put back into revenue service, empty lots where new residential and commercial uses could be established, and a combination of lack of open spaces and parks in poor maintenance. This document provides a review of existing conditions from previous studies, including market forces of the Campello neighborhood; summary of the public outreach process of both residents and business community; and recommendations for preferred development and land-use as identified by community members and stakeholders to encourage reinvestment in the Campello Neighborhood.
The Department of Planning and Economic Development is working with Old Colony Planning Council for developing a Campello Neighborhood Business District and Southern Main Street Visioning Plan.
The area for the Campello Neighborhood Business District and Southern Main Street Visioning Plan is located in and around the traditional Campello neighborhood in the southern end of Brockton.
The Plan includes a review of existing conditions within the Plan area, a review of past studies that have focused on the area, multiple public participation events to obtain community input from local stakeholders, business owners, and city officials.
The Plan will result in a series of recommendations and implementation strategies that are designed to spur greater residential and economic activity within the area.
Thatcher Street Smart Growth Overlay District
The City is working with the Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Archdiocese of Boston Planning Office for Urban Affairs on a proposed MGL Chapter 40R Smart Growth Overlay District at the Our Lady of Sorrows Convent on Thatcher Street.
MGL 40R is a zoning designation that would allows denser residential or mixed-use development near transit stations, in areas of concentrated development such as existing city and town centers, and in other highly suitable locations. An application is currently under review by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) before being submitted to the Brockton City Council for consideration.
CSX Area Master Plan
The former CSX rail yard lies at the heart of this planning study area. The area and the rail yard are bisected by Trout Brook. This study area is northeast of downtown and is generally located between the MBTA Commuter Rail Tracks on the west and Parker Street on the east. Portions extend north from Elliot Street towards Puffer Playground and south along Plymouth Street towards Snow Park.
This area has some industrial uses but is mostly vacant, and it separates the Downtown from existing residential neighborhoods. This site is not contributing to the economic health of the Downtown, nor is it an asset for the adjacent neighborhoods. However, in addition to being adjacent to the Downtown, much of the Study Area is within easy walking distance of Brockton Station (the commuter rail) and the Brockton Area Transit Centre (bus station).
The purpose of this study was to evaluate future development possibilities for the site by understanding existing conditions – physical, environmental, and economic – and scenario planning to examine, as a high level, different mixes of land uses, including industrial, commercial, and residential. Research on the current conditions and the preparation of maps and other analysis followed the guidelines of 760 CMR 12.00 (as revised in May 2018) as the City anticipated that this planning process might lead to the development of an urban renewal plan under Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Preferred Development Option
Guided by a local steering group, and after analyzing different development scenarios, the City hosted a public meeting on March 13, 2019 to present our finding and take public input. As a result, we have settled on a preferred development option for the rail yards and the property surrounding it.
Multifamily development along Court Street provides residential units within easy walking distance of commuter rail and bus services. The demand for goods and services from the residents of these units will also help support further revitalization of the businesses along Main Street. Active ground floor uses, such as a café or small convenience store could support the needs of both residents and commuters.
Along the rail tracks, commercial flex will add additional space for businesses and jobs to support the overall economy of the City and the specific economy of the downtown by providing demand for food, goods, and services.
Trout Brook becomes a significant asset to this area. Removing invasive plants will help restore the function of the brook. To the west of Trout Brook, this plan identifies flood storage areas to help mitigate existing and anticipated flood conditions. The east side of the Book would become a shared pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists. This pathway would connect Puffer Playground to the north of the CSX site and Snow Park to the south of the site. This pathway becomes a significant amenity for several neighborhoods in the area.
To the east of the pathway, the preferred plan includes a local playground, connected to the multi-use path, a single-family development that knits the existing neighborhood together by extending streets now unconnected to each other. The additional connections will create more access to public transit by fostering a better pedestrian network.
CSX Area Next Steps
In the coming months, the City will work with the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to develop and adopt an Urban Renewal Plan (URP) for the area. An Urban Renewal Plan will give BRA the authority to implement the Master Plan and will need to be approved by both City Council and the Commonwealth. An approved URP will also allow BRA to solicit proposals from developers for the area as a whole or for specific development projects within the study area. The City will continue its conversation with CSX with regard to their disposition of the 31 acres at the heart of the study area. Given the economic constraints of redevelopment and the high cost of construction in the Metro Boston area compared to project income, the BRA may want to take title to the property to provide potential developers with land cost write downs. The City and BRA will need to explore options to finance such a transaction, including grant and lending opportunities from the US Department of Urban Development (HUD), the US Economic Development Administration (EDA), and MassDevelopment’s Site Readiness Program. The City will also need to prepare zoning amendments and design guidelines for the study area to insure that what the community envisions will actually be built.
Former Christo's Site
State Senator Mike Brady and members of our Beacon Hill delegation filed legislation (S. 2352) to allow the Commonwealth to dispose of the 6.8 acre site. The Commonwealth determined that it was more cost effective to rehabilitate on-campus facilities than to build a new off –campus building to support Massasoit’s Allied Heath program which left the fate of the old Christo’s restaurant and Massasoit Conference center as a point of speculation. To start a community conversation about the future of the site, the City of Brockton’s Department of Planning and Economic Development engaged with the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute (https://boston.uli.org/) for a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP). A TAP is a one day exercise that brings real estate and land use planning professionals together to help the City understand the key issues related to a particular real estate/development question and brainstorm some potential solutions.
The TAP panelists toured the site and the surrounding neighborhood, interviewed local stakeholders and institutions, and presented their findings and recommendations to the local stakeholders over the course of a single day. The full report will be completed in January of 2020. The link below is a copy of the ULI TAP presentation.
While the TAP had identified two development scenarios, they are by no means the only opportunities the community should be considering. The Department of Planning and Economic Development will be hosting a community meeting in Spring of 2020 to receive additional community input in order to develop a vision for how the site could be redeveloped. We are working closely with the Commonwealth, Massasoit Community College, and the residential/ commercial neighbors to develop a strategy that works to benefit all Brockton stakeholders.
Other Planning Efforts
The Department has identified 11 areas outside of downtown that should have their own District Master Plans.
These include the Campello and Montello districts as well as Belmont and Pleasant Street Corridors and the east side commercial districts along Centre, Court and Quincy. Each of these districts has an important role to play in improving the lives and economic opportunities of our residents. As staff and funds become available, the Department will begin a community led planning effort.