Antique light fixtures this past week have added a touch of the past to a Broadway corridor that has seen better days, and will hopefully have much brighter days ahead.
After laying the electrical groundwork for the project last summer, crews moved in quickly last week and began installing the black, antique streetlights late last week.
Mayor Dan Rizzo and City Planner Frank Stringi said it is Phase I of what they hope to be a complete new era for the Broadway corridor.
“This is the first part of our overall plan to revitalize Broadway, the city’s Central Business District,” said Rizzo. “Our goal is to completely transform the look and feel to create a warm and inviting destination where business would like to locate and residents and guests to dine and shop. We believe that a vibrant and relevant downtown will portray a positive image of a city that is on the move, and over time, present more options for people to gravitate towards.”
Stringi said that for a short period of time, the old lights and the new lights would be in place. In about four weeks though, the old lights will come down, leaving only the historic lighting in place.
“Right now, we’ve done the central stretch from Hyde Street to Central Avenue on Broadway,” he said. “We’d like to extend it so it goes all the way from Beach Street to Mountain Avenue. This, however, is just the first phase for the lighting.”
Economic Development Director John Festa told the Journal that in two weeks, the City would have a meeting with the Broadway Advisory Committee. That meeting would focus on parking.
“We want to look at the parking issues in the area,” he said. “We’re going to have some really nice drawings for ideas at the Municipal Parking lot and Aucella Court, as well as the demolition of the old Police Station area.”
Beyond that, Stringi said this summer they would begin working on streetscape improvements in the Broadway area, including new crosswalks, curb ramps, new trash receptacles and new tree planters.
“As we go along in the program, we’ll do a full design of the Central Business District with things in place like bump outs and plaza areas,” he said.
The third part of the program will focus on storefronts, and includes a program to help storeowners fund such improvements to their façade or signage.
In fact, Stringi said the plan is to pay 100 percent of a signage upgrade for storeowners – up to $5,000 – provided that the signage and lighting conforms to the new district standards.
“We want to pay 100 percent for signage and lighting as a real incentive to get this going,” he said. “We’re looking for things like the gooseneck lighting and signs such as you see on the rehabilitated building across from City Hall.”
For the façade program, he said storeowners would be eligible for a 50 percent matching program that could provide as much as $25,000 in assistance.
“That will be a 50 percent match program,” he said. “If a storeowner has a $50,000 project, we can fund them up to $25,000. I think that’s the only way to complete the program and get such investments. It’s not really encouraging uniformity. We want every property to be different and unique, but also to meet guidelines and keep things attractive – accentuating the architectural design of some of the older buildings.”