Friday, December 12, 2008

64 Durfee Street: Community Theater/Gallery/Restaurants/Shops OR More Subsidized Senior Housing

I had the good fortune to see the presentation by Jeff Carpenter on behalf of Save Our Neighborhoods, Arts United and the Lower Highlands/Historic Downtown Neighborhood Association regarding plans for 64 Durfee (see Fall River Community's post on the topic). It is my understanding that there are currently 2 proposals. One for senior subsidized housing, for which it is more likely than not that the historic building will be torn down to make way for new senior facilities. Secondly there is the Arts mixed-use plan set forth by a developer out of Pawtucket, with a proven track record in art rehab projects like this one. The artist mixed-use plan calls for a restaurant, shops, artists residences, a gallery, and possibly a theater, to name a few.

As several urban planners have noted, putting in senior housing at this location will cut downtown off from its waterfront (in case we haven't done that enough with Heritage Heights). Alternately, putting in a mixed-arts use will serve as a natural nexus unifying downtown and the waterfront. We have had the Arts Overly District in place for some time now and the city has done nothing to develop it - here is the perfect opportunity!

The decision is in the hands of the Fall River Redevelopment Authority now and hopefully they will make the right decision and say no to more downtown senior housing. This comment from Puck, that I stole from FRC's blog made me think that Mayor Correia may actually get on board with the artist mixed-use plan:

If Mayor Bob were a wise man, he would back the plan to use this building for the arts. If he were as politically savvy as he fancies himself, he would see that this is a gift being handed to him on a silver platter—an opportunity for redemption—a chance to erase some of the considerable damage he has done to his reputation.

But he has to be made to see that it is in his best interest to do so because he certainly doesn’t care that it’s in Fall River’s best interest.

Crazy man Bob has spun himself into a death spiral but this project may be a way for him to slow it down. And with a good PR person, he could spin this into several major photo ops going into next year’s election season. Maybe even a little ink in the NY Times for ol’ Bob?

Then, in spite of himself, he’d finally be doing something good for our floundering city.

He owes us. Big time.

Puck's comment really makes me think that Correia could get on board with this because the memory of his efforts here will live on in the form of live performances at the building, gallery showings, and community events. The success of this project could be a greater tribute to him in the future when it is a thriving arts village as opposed to the tarnished memory he may forever have when people ask "who decided to block off Fall River's waterfront with more subsidized housing?" Perhaps he will even be remembered as the catalyst that revitalized Fall River.

And then I heard this.......................................

For all you historic preservational types out there - it gets really good at 1:10


Tom Paine said...

The greatest blame for cutting our waterfront was and still is route 79. Has anyone visited Salem? They did a wonderful job connecting their waterfront to their inner city area. The Peabody museum is incredible!!!

I was amazed. I went up on a Sunday, and the foot traffic that was taking place was incredible. Note - not during the holloween season. I went during the summer.

What I really noticed was the amount of oriental visitors due to the Peabody's museum vast collection on oriental art.

Again, the important thing was the connection.

Now for the arts.

I know other communities have succeded with this type of theme. Is it for Fall River? I ask that as a very serious question.

Salem is using what they have to bring in tourist, and new business. Is art our thing??

FRC said...


First, Arts United is going to have a presentation on Monday December 15th at the library that will show the proposal for the arts center, and that organization is much better at making the pitch for the arts.

To answer you question, locally the arts have revitalized Pawtucket and it is part of the huge success that is going on in New Bedford. I am sure if you look at other cities like Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME, that a lot of their success has been due to the arts.

Is the arts our thing?

1) It seems to work elsewhere, why not in Fall River?

2) If not the arts, what's the alternative?

Here is why I think the arts are good for Fall River.

1) It gives Fall Riverites something to do - something social, something positive.

2) Ditto for outsiders - Surrounding communities can come to Fall River and have a good time and not fear coming into the city. Hopefully, they come back a 2nd and a 3rd time....

The Narrows Center has been around for about a decade and most of its patrons are from outside of Fall River.

Anonymous said...

So WHAT COMPANY is he referring to that wants to tear down the buildings?? Is it a biotech company? Put it in the industrial park that is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. And it was a bright idea to put it in the historical register- who thought of that??

The Watcher said...

This mayor is an asshole. Historical preservation laws are an obstacle for him to enrich himself and his buddies. Boo-hoo. How frigging stupid are we for electing him?

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU to whoever had the "bright idea" to put some of the mills on the historic register!

But then, maybe Bob is just making excuses as to why he hasn't gotten any businesses in the city. Blaming a lack of business/jobs on a historic register is a big stretch.

puck said...

It's my personal belief that the arts are right for every community. Not only are they "right," they can be the soul of a community like ours whose leaders have so often squandered our place of respect in this region and beyond.

Tom, think about those cities, like Salem, that you enjoy visiting. WHY do you visit? The waterfront, the history, the restaurants, the specialty shops, the entertainment? We have the first three in abundance, and we can certainly continue to develop the latter two, which include the arts.

Watch the “Arts Education” talk by Ann Galligan of Northeastern U., at www.FallRiverMA.TV, which details how the arts have become an economic engine.

Pawtucket Rising, the excellent documentary by Jason Caminiti, about that city's economic rebirth through the arts is a valuable blueprint for Fall River. Try to get a copy of it. Its message is impressive.

Then attend the Arts United presentation at the library on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.

Sadly, Bob Correia has no respect for Fall River nor for its legacy, as punctuated by his incredibly foolish remarks in this WSAR interview and most certainly by his desecration of David Miller’s memorial.

With good people like Jeff Carpenter, Jason Caminiti, Patrick Norton and many, many others, there is a chance that this project will come to fruition. If these folks can believe in Fall River, why can't Bob?

Hey, Bob, how about being the mayor that restores the lifeblood to our fair city? Wouldn't that be a better legacy for yourself than the one you're creating now?...

Bob Correia, the Wonder Mayor: He erased our history, drove away business, bankrupted our homeowners and destroyed our schools – all in one short term!

Force this project through, mayor, and you may soon be able to make a legitimate dedication. Picture the bright lights on a big marquis atop the Durfee building for all the world to see:


Anonymous said...

Just a quick correction.

I believe the Arts United meeting is Monday December 15.

puck said...

Thank you for the correction. Yes, the presentation is Monday, Dec. 15, 6 p.m.

Anonymous said...

And then we can re-dedicate the corriea performing arts center and put up the name of a veteran.

puck said...


Anonymous said...

For those of you out there who may not know...Fall River has its own professional ballet company,also its own symphony orchestra. These organizations have been around for many years. They try and try to bring awareness to their groups, and share an appreciation of their art. We just need the support of our city to promote the arts.

Anonymous said...

Just ask the Karams how many historic properties they've desecrated in Tiverton, RI.

The Watcher said it best, "Historical preservation laws are an obstacle for him (Correia) to enrich himself and his buddies (the Karams)."

shamrock said...

Is it just me or did Bob call them the "Carrots" in the clip? Either way it is my new nickname for them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the carrott a term they are using in the big 3 auto deal? Well that would make sense they do show up in their big corporate jets asking for more money/power/deals. It's going to be a long cold winter in fall river since we are now living in illinois!!!

Anonymous said...

Gee just when I think the bloggers couldn't be any farther out of touch with the population of the city, you guys prove me wrong. Let's preserve all the mills as a monument to exploited immigrant and child labor. After all they did provide the income to build all those swell Victorian Queen Ann and Greek Revival homes in the Lower Highlands!

shamrock said...

Finally we can agree on something! Let's destroy our history because it wasn't always pleasant and I don't want to remember it anymore (plus cement and vinyl siding look better than stone mills anyway). Corporal Miller's memorial falls in that category too. The Japanese atrocities are too horrible to remember so let's just not.

shamrock said...

and what is your obsession with the lower highlands?

Anonymous said...

Certainly preservation is not all or nothing. Some mills will meet the wrecking ball while others are worth saving. The problem with the Mayor is that he detests that at some point someone placed the mills in a national register. I don't think we can blame people for trying to protect the city's history.

Also, there are several examples in Fall River of mills that have been renovated and look very nice inside.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget the ties to the columbus ctr and diane wilkinson scandal and criminal proceedings.