Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist, Aim
Greenfield’s turn-of-the-century architecture is a draw for the community. Today, city leaders are working to preserve that heritage, with 10 historic buildings receiving facade improvements thanks to a state grant.
“If you ask people when they come to Greenfield what they like about Greenfield, the first thing they say is historic buildings,” said Joan Fitzwater, the city’s planning director.
That charm has prompted more entrepreneurs to open up restaurants and businesses in the city’s urban center. But maintaining and renovating 120-year-old buildings can be a costly challenge. The state’s Main Street Revitalization Program is helping keep the buildings — representing some of Greenfield’s most well-known treasurers — in tip-top shape, Fitzwater said.
The revitalization project includes the Randall Building at the highly-visible corner of U.S. 40 and State Road 9, which will receive new windows and other improvements. The early 1900s Carnegie Library, now home to the upscale restaurant Carnegie’s, and Wooden Bear Brewery also are receiving upgrades. In all, the grant is infusing $500,000 into the facade work of 10 different buildings around the downtown, along with an additional $200,000 in local funds that building owners and community leaders put toward the project.
“It is a big part of our identity,” Fitzwater said, “and it ties into reigniting our central business district and making it a place for people to call home and be proud of and come down and hang out.”
The work is expected to wrap up in June.
In addition to the facade improvements, Greenfield has broadened its downtown corridor with an event space called the Living Alley. The alley, which livened up a parking lot area with public art and metal instruments, hosts a growing number of festivals and events.
A new housing development to attract artists and entrepreneurs also is in the works. Greenfield’s project, the 54-unit Broadway Flats, will offer common space for artists and young entrepreneurs to interact and launch creative ideas. The building will feature a gallery, soundproof music room and studio production lounge, among its amenities. Residents also will live next to a trail network with access to a bike pavilion and bike repair kiosk.