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Danbury, CT, forges redevelopment plan.

The businesses and civic leaders of Danbury, Connecticut, believe their $30 million redevelopment program could make the city's downtown central business district a model of urban development in the 1990's.

Forging a unique public-private partnership, Danbury has embarked on one of the most ambitious redevelopment plans anywhere in the region.

"The unusual strategy behind the Danbury plan," said Felice Plain, executive director of CityCenter Danbury, "calls for investment in infrastructure and a number of other improvements at an early stage. We believe that construction of a new garage, for example, and physical improvements on our Main Street, will encourage new private sector investment and facilitate construction later on."

The new 550-space Patriot Garage, which has recently opened, was planned as the first project to be constructed. By providing parking in this central location, the garage will free up for development parcels all over the downtown that were previously used for parking.

In addition, major streetscape improvements, including landscaping, traffic improvements and new sidewalks are currently underway, which will give downtown a new, revitalized appearance that will serve as an attraction to new businesses.

Construction is also scheduled to begin shortly on a new Green -- a tradition in every New England town -- which will serve as an important new center of the community. The Danbury redevelopment plan looks forward to several major projects, including:

* More than 80 new units of affordable housing

* New commercial development, including office, restaurants, retail space

* A new triplex movie theater as well as possible facilities for live theater

* A major new medical facility, called "Easy Street," a state of the art physical rehabilitation facility, which is expected to open this fall. It is estimated that Easy Street will ultimately attract 500 people per day to downtown -more-

* A new railroad station to serve Metro-North passengers as the railroad expands service to the area. In connection with this new station, the City is pursuing the restoration of the old station for use as a railroad museum

The Danbury plan relies on the community's existing attributes -- its historic buildings, library, theaters, parks, local arts groups, proximity to transportation -- as the foundation for the redevelopment effort.

"Downtowns can thrive even when located near successful malls," explained Plain, "not by competing with the malls but by offering the type of services, shops and atmosphere that are unique to a downtown location."
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Title Annotation:Connecticut
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 17, 1992
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