Underground parking, patio dining and towering business-apartment hybrids could be on the horizon for the heart of Windsor if the Downtown Development Authority can rally enough support moving into 2014 and beyond.
The group on Wednesday outlined during an informal get-together three different scenarios that could revolutionize the part of downtown Windsor north of Main Street by the railroad tracks near Boardwalk Park. The informational session, held at Nana Bea’s, featured diagrams and overlays highlighting what the future could entail, all while giving area business owners a chance to learn for themselves what the big changes could mean moving forward.
The first scenario is mostly a redesigned and more aesthetically pleasing parking area. Transforming the existing disorganized dirt lot into a paved and landscaped parking area with 109 spots would fix the chaotic cluster that forms during summer events at the park, DDA Chairman Bob Winter said.
Scenario 2 depicts a much more aggressive plan that could turn the lot into a towering 50,000- square-foot residential complex, as well as more than 27,000 square feet for retail space, paving the way for aggressive downtown growth.
The third version of plans is a blend of the two and includes amped-up parking while accommodating a more thriving retail sector. With an estimated 19,000 square feet for retail space and nearly 34,000 square feet for residential construction, it represents a modest blend while also allowing for some financial return through tax increments, Winter said.
“These are just ideas and we’re just trying to get people’s feedback,” he added.
For the first time, one entity — the DDA — owns all of the property behind the downtown businesses. Until recently, each individual business made its own rules for how to use the rear property, and in many people’s minds, the transformation has been long overdue. With everything now under one owner, plans can begin progressing more easily. But that doesn’t mean the future of Windsor’s downtown is in any way set in stone.
The DDA has requests tucked into the town’s 2014 budget that would get the electrical wires and other utilities draped across the lot put underground — a major step Winter said could entice a developer to take the reins. That’s not to say a grand build-out will happen overnight — this is just the very beginning of what Winter called a long process that will seek community input and support moving forward.
“We’re going to cross these bridges as we get to them,” Winter said. “It’s a step-by-step process. We don’t want to do it unless people are in favor of it.”
“We’re going to cross these bridges as we get to them. It’s a step-by-step process. We don’t want to do it unless people are in favor of it.