NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has voted to accept a general outline for a plan to redevelop its waterfront land, and it will now create a “request for proposals” that will be distributed to developers and bankers.
This is a significant step in the NRA’s efforts to redevelop the 4.2 acres of land that it owns along the city’s central waterfront, with about 2.1 acres on either side of Market Landing Park. The NRA’s request for proposals, called an RFP, lays out the general plan that the NRA publicly unveiled last month — construction of two buildings and expanded parkland along the boardwalk, and a smaller parking area than currently exists.
It is the first of many steps the NRA is required before a shovel can be sunk into its property. The process of getting a developer on board and plans approved will take many months, assuming it occurs at all.
NRA Chairman James Shanley said that the panel will utilize the services of consultant Barry Abramson to create the document, and the RFP could be ready to advertise in the next 90 days.
“The board is very enthusiastic about the plan that Union Studio created,” Shanley said. “It showed an understanding of our community and our history.”
Shanley said that Union’s work is now done. NRA members said they are open to new ideas brought forth by developers responding to the RFP, but Shanley indicated they likely will stay with the current outline.
“If we see a great idea that meets our goals and objectives, we will consider it,” Shanley said. “But we believe Union did excellent work, and we are continuing to pursue a plan for the riverfront.”
The NRA has been trying to develop its land since the late 1960s, without success. Much of the NRA’s acreage is currently being utilized as parking lots. The plan suggested by Union Studio, an architectural and consulting firm in Providence, R.I., calls for parts of each lot to be turned into green space with shrubbery and trees. Also, an extension of the rail trail would run through the refurbished NRA property.