PLACE, a non-profit community builder which acts as a nonprofit developer for cities and other municipal or nonprofit entities, will conduct a preliminary feasibility analysis of the affordable and innovation housing portions of the Port Street Small Area Master Plan in May.
Working with a steering committee formed by the Easton Economic Development Corporation, PLACE will involve key stakeholders in a series of host meetings and focus groups between May 9 and 11, 2017 in Easton. The focus groups will address financial, quality of life, and housing and environment and will involve community leaders, elected officials and business representatives from each of the three areas. A Public Forum will be held on May 10 at 6 p.m. for the entire community to discuss the vision for the project, provide examples of similar developments around the country and describe the economic impact and other beneficial outcomes. PLACE will then present their findings from the visit to the stakeholders on the next day. A further goal is for PLACE to determine its capacity and appropriateness to provide development services for the Port Street Small Area Master Plan affordable housing and innovation pieces.
Through the Port Street Small Area Master Planning process, the community has identified the retention and development of affordable housing on Port Street to be a key priority. Easton is currently generally underserved in affordable housing. Affordable housing currently available on Port Street is in disrepair and will require significant investment in the short term. The community has also been very vocal in their requests for supportive retail, environmentally sensitive development and healthy food options created through a market and/or gardens.
The Port Street Small Area Master Plan also calls for live/work spaces that would appeal to creative professionals and millennials. The PLACE team has extensive experience in developing new models for urban neighborhoods that demonstrate radical innovation in environmental design, live/work hubs for creatives and creative businesses, job creation through retail and manufacturing, affordable workforce housing, and supportive housing for the most economically distressed.
According to Tracy Ward, “The Easton Economic Development Corporation has identified the development of affordable housing as a priority project that could advance the overall goals of redeveloping Port Street and Easton Point due to the potential to harness market forces and the availability of existing infrastructure. The economic impact of this project to the Town of Easton would exceed $20 million.”
For further information about the Public Forum on May 10, 2017, 6 p.m. at the Easton Firehouse on Creamery Lane, contact Tracy Ward at (410) 708-6932.