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Savin Hill Village Development Committee Meeting January 24, 2011

Posted: January 26, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Over a dozen people were present for the first official meeting of the Savin Hill Village Development Committee including area residents, a business owner, Maureen McQuillen, president Columbia Savin Hill Neighborhood Association and Eric J Robinson, chair of the Development Committee.

The meeting was held at the offices of @Home Realty on Savin Hill Ave and took place on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 7pm. 

The Savin Hill Village Development Committee is a subcommittee of the Planning Committee of the Columbia Savin Hill Neighborhood Association (CSHCA).  Attendees discussed why the neighborhood association chose this structure as opposed to, for example, having a Main Streets representative handling the economic development issues. 
  • According to Don Walsh, the Department of Neighborhood Development is not budgeted for additional Main Streets organizations. 

  • Maureen McQuillen believes this development committee, the first of its kind in the neighborhood association, will serve as a replicating model for other business districts within the CSHCA boundaries.  
Over the years, the E-Board and others within the CSHCA have discussed how to more directly engage with the business community.  Ms. McQuillen saw an immediate connection:  "We look  to this committee as a means to forge a meaningful partnership with the business owners within our district."

The Development Committee is in its formation and data-gathering stages.  Initial discussion included sharing some concerns but a lot more positive energy.  "How can we support and promote our existing businesses?  How can we be instrumental in attracting vibrant and attractive new businesses?" 

At the same time the Committee wants to look at the full range of business sites within the target area, including those that are closed but have immediate market potential, closed but require some upgrade to encourage occupancy and those that require major renovations.  The Savin Hill Village area is zoned a "local convenience district" and these thrive best when all buildings and sites are fully occuppied.

The group agreed to a target area, to be known as Savin Hill Village - businesses on Savin Hill Avenue, from Saxton Street to the Savin Hill MBTA Station.  The group's "study area" would extend in a 1/2 mile radius beyond.
Bruce Shatswell has begun creating the business inventory.  He looks to complete it in the next several weeks, including gleaning information from existing documents, for example, at the BRA.  Bruce emphasized the importance of identifying "partners" -  organizations that frequent the Savin Hill Village area.  "Building these relationships," he said, "would foster cooperation and support of economic development."

Eric Robinson said: "I am very excited about establishing positive pro-active relationships with existing businesses, generating over time a positive synergy between this committee and the business community.  We are striving to work with owners of all commercial property to ensure they realize their full potential.  A bi-product will be attractive developments."  

Chris Montani encouraged the group to understand well its mission and focus.   "We have a big area to cover.  Staying on track and up-to-date on Committee work is essential to making progress and establishing credibility with the Savin Hill Village community."

The group acknowledged its first roles as defining scope and mission and gathering area demographics.  "But after that, what can we do to sustain existing businesses and promote new businesses?" 

  1. Assist existing businesses by serving as a clearinghouse of information about city and state programs, grants, etc. 
  2. Promote local businesses and forge a more meaningful partnership with the civic association. 
  3. Explore ways of promoting our businesses via electronic and print methods as well as events to showcase the area merchants services/products.
Summary of issues to address during the business analysis
  • Map target area businesses and create an inventory (spreadsheet)
  • Analyze the target area businesses
  • Promote new viable businesses consistent with community values
  • Examine existing transit oriented developments (TODs) for ideas
  • Include an ongoing analysis safety issues:  lighting, crosswalks, state of repair/disrepair of sidewalks, public safety, etc
  • Parking related issues, especially because of the T-Stop
  • Litter collection/control, especially because of the T-Stop
  • Identify promotional events such as street festivals and farmers market
Who can participate on this committee?

The Columbia Savin Hill Neighborhood Association encourages all business owners, institutions (Cristo Rey School), condo associations and area residents to join the committee. 

To ensure a sense of inclusiveness, the meetings will rotate to various business locations within the targeted zone throughout the year. Contact the committee chair for more information: eric@rodearchitects.com

Next Meeting:

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 21, 2011 place to be determined.


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