The Somerville by Design: Winter Hill design charrette began on Monday, October 27th, with the team moving into our temporary studio space at 328 Broadway. There was a whirlwind of activity as we transformed a vacant storefront into a public open studio that would be our home for the next three days. By 10:00am, the workspaces were up and running, Mayor Curtatone had visited to share his perspective, and the first members of the public arrived to see what the event was all about. Special thanks to Lindsay Wilbur and her ESOL students at the Welcome Project, who joined us on Monday morning to participate in the neighborhood planning process.
Our first one-hour public discussion was on the Winter Hill economy. The topics for these sessions were selected based on what we heard at our September 29th Visioning Event. Team members Ed Starkie and Glenn Kellogg presented economic data for the neighborhood, including data on jobs and wages, consumer spending and merchant revenues, as well as information on housing and commuting trends. Ed and Glenn helped us understand that the Winter Hill neighborhood has demographic characteristics that are typically very attractive to retailers and employers.
A quick walking tour of the neighborhood led by Planning Director George Proakis allowed for plenty of photos and conversations with residents on the sidewalk. We ordered lunch from Mama Lisa’s, and the designers settled in to a steady rhythm of quiet work while City staff continued to meet one-on-one with residents, community groups, business owner and commercial landlords.
Later in the afternoon, we hosted a series of four back-to-back one-hour topical discussions. Folks continued to drop in, and some good discussions developed during our session on housing, and our session on creating a public square in Winter Hill. The designers had produced a few sketch plans by this time, and attendees were able to discuss and provide initial feedback on these design ideas.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a summary post on Day 2 of the Winter Hill design charrette.