Downtown Action Strategy
The City of Brockton, with support by MassDevelopment, has developed an economic and redevelopment strategy that rethinks downtown’s future.
The Downtown Brockton Action Strategy is an implementation-focused plan that emphasizes a series of strategic development initiatives within the next five to ten years. Our fundamental goal is to build a strong, diverse, attractive downtown that can reclaim its role as anchor of the city and the metro south region.
The City launched this planning effort in July, 2015, as the first stage of the Brockton Gateway Transformative Development Initiative (TDI)*. Brockton Gateway is a partnership among the City, Brockton 21st Century Corporation, and Trinity Financial, the firm redeveloping the Enterprise Block in downtown. MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development and finance agency, chose Brockton for a TDI district in 2014.
The TDI district extends from the MBTA commuter rail station to and along Main Street.
This plan identifies ways that Brockton can:
- Attract new businesses and residents that contribute to the financial viability of the City.
- Increase downtown’s vibrancy.
- Attract a broader socio-economic mix of residents and businesses.
- Arrive at the point of increasing property values—indicating that residents value being in downtown Brockton and are willing to pay for it.
Downtown Urban Renewal Plan
This Downtown Brockton Urban Renewal Plan, referred to in this document as an Urban Revitalization Plan, was prepared pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 121B and 760 CMR 12.00. It is submitted on behalf of the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (the “BRA”) with their unanimous approval on January 6, 2016 to the Brockton City Council and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (“DHCD”) for approval and action.
Plan implementation is proposed to proceed in three phases, over the course of approximately twenty years, with additional public actions identified for which the timing is not specifically programmed.
The City of Brockton, acting by and through the Brockton Redevelopment Authority, in accordance with the powers granted by Chapter 121B of the Massachusetts General Laws, as amended, and in recognition of the need to remove certain decadent conditions in the downtown section of the city, has caused this Urban Renewal Plan (URP) to be created for the 65.8 acre Urban Revitalization District.
The Brockton Downtown Urban Revitalization Plan proposes to build a strong, diverse, attractive downtown that can establish itself as a major economic force in the city and the metro south region. Redevelopment proposed pursuant to this URP will remove the decadent conditions that exist, and revitalize and stabilize the Urban Revitalization Area through a combination of strategic public action and incentives for private enterprise.
This Urban Revitalization Plan serves in part as an implementation mechanism for the strategies identified in the recently completed Brockton Downtown Action Strategy (“Action Strategy”), which identifies ways in which Brockton can attract new businesses and residents that contribute to the financial viability of the City, increase the vibrancy of downtown, and attract a broader socio-economic mix of residents and businesses.
Downtown District Improvement Financing Program
The City of Brockton created the Downtown Brockton DIF Invested Revenue District (District) on July 20, 2015 as part of a public-private collaborative process to promote redevelopment in downtown Brockton. DIF enables the City to allocate a defined percentage of revenue accruing from the improvement of properties in the DIF district to fund eligible projects in the DIF District.
This DIF Program implements Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 40Q District Improvement Financing in Downtown Brockton. This Program outlines the processes by which the City of Brockton will estimate DIF Tax Increment for the purposes of budgeting; certify the change in Assessed Value within the District from year to year; establish accounting procedures in order to segregate DIF revenues and allocate them in accordance with this Program and approved annual budgeting; and the manner by which the City Council shall establish a DIF capture percentage within the DIF annual budgeting process.
Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP)
The Downtown Brockton Housing Development Zone and Plan, approved by the Commonwealth in December, 2014, incentivize the creation of Market Rate housing by providing tax credits to qualified projects. The credits can be used for both new construction and for the restoration and redevelopment of existing buildings. To be qualified projects must contain first floor retail or commercial uses and 80% of the units created must be Market Rate.
The greening of Downtown Brockton
George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis explored the role that quality park amenities play in 21st century regional economic development. There findings include the following:
- Investments in improving a community’s quality of life create a virtuous cycle: high quality-of-life locations attract workers, which attract employers, which in turn attract even more investments and jobs.
- High-quality parks and recreation can play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining quality businesses.
- Active engagement with companies and workers influence business expansion decisions and attract new residents to a community.
Therefore, as one of several economic development strategies, the City of Brockton is actively planning and improving the parks, plazas and open spaces in and around downtown to both improve the quality of life for our current residents and workers and attract new economic investment to our community.
GREEN LINKS: An Urban Green Space Plan For Downtown Brockton, authorized by Sunnie Joh, Amanda Pebler, and Emmy Titcombe of the Conway School in Northampton, Mass., provides three alternative strategies for improvements and with community feedback, maps a park and open space plan for downtown.
The Brockton Two Rivers Master Plan from 2008 which looks at the city-wide Salisbury Brook, Trout Brook and Salisbury River system is also an important guiding document for green space improvements in downtown Brockton.
Smart Growth Zoning – MGL 40R
The Department of Planning and Economic Development and the Brockton Planning Board have submitted a zoning amendment to City Council that would expand and improve the current Downtown Smart Growth District. The amendment calls for increasing the number of residential units per acre and reducing the parking requirement in this transit oriented district. The Downtown Core, Arts and Culture and Corcoran sub-districts would all expand in size to cover all of downtown, and a new Perkins Park sub-district would be created to spur redevelopment north of Pleasant Street.
Transformational Development Initiative (TDI)
Downtown Brockton has recently been selected by MassDevelopment as Transformational Development District. MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s economic development and finance agency, chose Brockton’s application in a competitive process, beating out a dozen other Gateway Cities.
A partnership led by the City, Brockton 21st Century Corporation and Trinity Financial, the developers of the Enterprise Block, is spearheading a growing coalition of stakeholders that include representatives from Downtown Business Association, Metro South Chamber, Brockton Arts, Brockton Garden Club, BAT, Old Colony Planning Council and others. As a TDI Community, Brockton is receiving additional technical assistance and is eligible for program funding and select equity like investments.
Downtown Parking Study and Plan
The Brockton Parking Authority has released its 2017 Parking Study and Plan for Downtown Brockton prepared by the consulting firm NelsonNygaard. The study began with a count of all parking spaces available in downtown Brockton, as well as a utilization count. In addition, the team conducted interviews and an online survey that reached a broader audience. These two efforts helped the team identify issues and opportunities in the current parking program. A more in-depth financial and land-use based modeling exercise provided additional insights and strategy refinement. The Brockton Parking Authority and its Board reviewed preliminary strategies and guided the selection of the strategies in this document.
Downtown Transportation Plan
For several decades, the City of Brockton has been seeking to reintroduce two-way traffic circulation in Downtown, but this was easier said than done With the increase in private investment in the district and the promise of more to come, the City undertook a major planning effort to get this project back on track. Guided by residents and business owners; transportation and community advocates; and elected leaders, the City developed this new Downtown Transportation Plan with the Complete Streets philosophy at its core. That is, streets are a public asset, and should be usable by walkers, bike riders, transit uses and automobiles. This public asset is also a public space that connects residents, employees and visitors to a variety of uses including homes, jobs, stores, parks and transit.
The study area consists of approximately 0.12 square miles, located in downtown Brockton, roughly contained by Spring Street and Court Street to the north, Warren Avenue to the west, Belmont Street and Crescent Street to the south, and Commercial Street to the east. Many of the streets in the Downtown area currently serve one-way traffic, most notably the north/south pair of Main Street and Warren Avenue. Several east/west streets currently serve one-way operations as well.
The plan proposes to convert Main Street, Warren Avenue and Belmont Street to two way traffic. Some 20 traffic signals will be replaced or upgraded with new equipment and nearly five (5) linear miles of roadway will be rebuilt with improved water, sewer, fiber optic utilities and streetscape.
The sidewalks on Main Street will be widened for more pedestrian room and new protected bike lanes will allow rides in both directions. On-street parking will be moved to convenient locations on side streets and additional off street parking is accommodated in a proposed garage on Frederick Douglass Avenue. Legion Parkway also gets a makeover with bike lanes, midblock crosswalks and streetscaping. Another improvement will be the realignment of Lincoln Street where it intersects School Street near City Hall. The new alignment will “T” up Lincoln with School and provide a new stop sign on Lincoln to improve safety
This work is proposed to be completed at least three phases and would probably start off with underground utility work first. This work will need to be coordinated with our telecommunications, gas and electric providers, who may be making their own investments prior to the roadwork.
The City is looking for grant funding to prepare the design and engineering. Once complete we hope to secure federal and state funding for the three construction phases.
Over the spring and summer of 2020 the City has been exploring an expansion of the project limits in addition to evaluating the condition of the existing downtown sewer and water system. The current project area extends further south toward the Saulsbury Brook and includes several side streets that were not considered in the original 2020 Study.
To further advance this project the Planning Department and Department of Public Works interviewed several professional engineering and design firms to assist in this work. In August, 2020, the City designated Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) as its choice to lead the overall project. The City, with VHB’s assistance is currently working to refine the initial cost estimate provided by BSC, the authors of the 2020 Study, and to secure funding to bring the work to what is called 25% design. For a 25% design submission, MassDOT requires two major components, the Functional Design Report and Preliminary Design Plans.
Location Analysis: Based on the building and locational analysis 60 Main Street was considered the best option for further analysis due to its existing level of redevelopment and location. Two sites (15-25 Douglass and 53 Legion Way) required extensive rehabilitation to be brought to a point for conversion to a restaurant space. 275 Main Street was considered too far to serve as a catalyst for the downtown.
Market Analysis: The market analysis assumed the Incubator based on its design and unique dining experience would become a destination able to draw from a wider market area. The analysis revealed the greater Brockton market (20 minute drive-time) had $479 million in potential spending. Looking more closely at Brockton, on a city-wide basis $113 million of total estimated out of home food spending with an estimated $18 million in unmet demand existed. However, within walkable distance to downtown total market size was approximately $1.0 million to $1.4 million.
Development Costs: Development costs totaled approximately $3.3 million. This cost can be influenced by a number of variables including the level of finishing, the number of cooking stations and other related costs.
Incubator Revenue: The base case for the revenue analysis suggested stabilized annual revenue of approximately $2.5 million. The restaurant tenants generate profit levels of approximately $160,000. The Operator under the base case have profits of approximately $62,000. Revenues are highly sensitive to customer volume and average meal price from customers. A table turn decrease, a measure of customer volume, from 1.5 to 1.0 leads to losses for the operator. Table turn increase from 1.0 to 2.0 leads to an increase in profit margins for the incubator (including operator and tenants) from $900,000 to $1.1 million. An increase in average check size by 11% takes profit margins from $900,000 up to almost $1.3 million.
Supportable Debt: Based on the estimated cash flow the facility could support approximately $609,000 in debt. Given the $3.3 million in development costs there is a substantial capital gap that would need to be addressed through grants, tenant allowances and other sources of capital.
National Benchmark Comparison: Comparing the projected performance to national benchmarks suggests the Incubator will perform at best at the mid-level in sales per seat.
Other Downtown Implications: Given the required performance and the disposable income of the present and foreseeable downtown residents, the incubator will be dependent on greater Brockton to generate the level of sales required to support the facility. This suggests that in addition to the Incubator, a series of other place-making initiatives and addressing perceptual issues such as safety will also need to be addressed.