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First step to revitalize downtown: Get a plan

As a step toward downtown revitalization, South Boston officials want to develop the former John Randolph Hotel property into a “boutique” hotel, but the town also needs to develop a plan for revitalization of its downtown area as a whole in accordance with that project.

That proposal has prompted a Downtown South Boston Master Plan public meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at council chambers on Yancey Street.

The need for development of a Downtown Master Plan came about as a result of a feasibility study that was done for the John Randolph Hotel project, according to Destination Downtown Executive Director Tamyra Vest.

“In order for the hotel project to be successful, our community needs to seriously consider and develop a plan that will revitalize the downtown area as well as design a welcoming entrance to the downtown area, said Vest.

“For example, we have a bridge
that could be a southern gateway to downtown.  Currently, it is a wide, blank horizontal, two-dimensional blur of mediocrity.

“But, what an incredible opportunity for a gateway if we widened the walkways, changed the paving of the walkways and driving surface, lined both sides with new, decorative lighting and hung colorful, informative impact banners from the new light poles.”

A master plan for the downtown area would “envision and evaluate more great ideas,” Vest continued.

“No single project will magically change the economic and social viability of the downtown, but a concentrated effort to design and enhance the big picture is crucial and possible.

“In order for the hotel project to be successful, we need to establish the ability to sustain travelers beyond an initial one night stay and have them wanting to return to a restored and expanded John Randolph Hotel.”

The town plans to submit a request for a $20,000 Community Development Block Grant planning grant for the proposed master development plan.

Town staff is looking to apply for the grant in the February time frame, according to Town Manager Ted Daniel.