Powers commented that architectural professionals “around the country” feel that the city is missing an opportunity to enhance the riverfront property by linking the downtown commercial area with a complex on the river that would include restaurants and shops.
One troublesome aspect of any riverfront development appears to be parking, urban professionals seem to agree.
Union Studio officials estimated that if the tentative plan is followed, spaces in the two parking lots will diminish from about 336 spaces to about 172.
Also, developers building residences would have to allow for two underground spaces (perhaps a total 60), and some residents questioned whether enough ground for parking can be found.
The next step in consideration of the central waterfront appears to be administration and analysis of test borings, city officials say.
Elizabeth Heath, who heads the COW organization, said, in a statement: “The NRA’s ‘Newburyport Waterfront Revised Master Plan’ is pretty much the same old same old.
“I saw nothing even resembling a change for the better. Apparently they have decreased the square footage from 72,000 sq. ft. to 70,000 sq. ft., and they have moved the building on the west lot slightly to the southwest allowing it to now sit completely in the parking lot and not impinge on existing parkland as it had previously.
“And this new plan further reduces parking — taking the available number of spaces from the current number of 375 down to only 172.
“COW’s opposition to the path that the NRA is relentlessly pursuing remains as determined as ever. We repeat — no new buildings, don’t sell or lease the land. Keep the waterfront open, with free access for everyone in perpetuity.”