GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 10, 2013

Downtown's destiny: City seeks suggestions to shape area's future

The future of downtown Gloucester lies in the community’s hands, as a series of meetings led by city officials and meant to stir discussion about the necessary steps needed to shape the downtown’s destiny begin.

The first meeting is set for tonight at City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium with a start time of 6. City officials have invited residents and business owners to share the things they love about downtown as well as grievances or concerns about its fate in hopes of shaping a plan for moving forward.

“The city can identify resources that advance the area as a place where residents come to shop, play, work and live,” Mayor Carolyn Kirk wrote in her Mayor’s Desk column in Saturday’s Times. “Public input is essential in terms of helping the city address residents’ and business owners’ concerns.”

The downtown area, which includes everything from Route 128 down to the harbor, is home to 30 percent of Gloucester’s residents and, of course, an array of businesses dotted by some vacant storefronts.

While long-vacant or decrepit sites can detract from a bustling business economy, some turnover in storefronts is typical of any downtown, according to city Community Development Director Tom Daniel.

“There’s been a really positive turnover here,” Daniel said. “It’s about looking for those spaces to fill up along Main Street.”

Common Crow, now situated at the corner of Elm and Main streets, plans to shift over to the building that housed Cameron’s, exemplifying the positive side of vacancies. The move is pending some major cleanup, and loosely scheduled to happen this winter.

Though Common Crow co-owners Pam Towler and Kate Noonan will leave behind their current store, they will enter a building with three times their current space. Their goods store Green Life will remain in its adjacent spot, but the owners look forward to doubling their grocery offerings in each department and providing a cafe with some seating.

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