Business incubators, green space and mixed-use residential development got top the priority from members of SNA’s North Main Street Group last week at its third “Sandwich Hut Summit” on May 25 We zeroed in on what North Main should look like and what specific projects would do the most to bring that future about.

The group agreed that a vital North Main needs much more than suburban-style stores surrounded by parking lots. We agreed that having many more people living and working on an urban-style “street wall” of storefronts on the sidewalk was essential to creating a safe mixed-use district that attracts non-residents for meals, shopping and services. We also wanted to see many different social spaces and green spaces included in the mix of public and private development. We recognized that providing access to parking is critical, even while too much visible surface parking will defeat our goals. We look to create a mix of transportation options that might include more buses, streetcars and paths for walking or biking.

We then identified 15 potential projects that could jumpstart the kind of development we want and ranked them. All of these ideas got general support in discussion, but clearly the priority was given to innovative business incubators, green spaces and mixed-use residential development.

These conclusons will be tested against the views of experts from the Congress on New Urbanism which will take up North Main Street as one of three “urban labs” offered to participants at this national conference on June 1. The urban lab will review the facts, tour the street, and spend an hour brainstorming the opportunities and challenges.