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Downtown NB is about to hit hyper-drive






I love ducking into spaces under construction to take pictures of the raw space before they are transformed into whatever they are destined to become. Fortunately, I can attest to the fact that New Bedford seems to employ some of the friendliest work crews anywhere and the authorities have never been alerted to my phantom presence!

Earlier this month, I walked into the former Whaling Museum Research Library on Purchase Street – which will soon be home to Greasy Luck Brewing Co. A lone worker was discarding rubble from the building outside on a hot day so all the doors were wide open. The building is deceiving from the outside as it’s snuggled into the block; it’s huge inside and you can easily imagine that the main space is going to be damn impressive.

As is is the concept for Greasy Luck – a brewery and live-entertainment performing venue that just may become New Bedford’s answer to Fall River’s The Narrows. In the process, Greasy Luck promises to ignite all of Purchase Street and kick it to a higher level – just as the Moby Dick Brewing Co. is likely to for lower Union Street.

Clearing out the space that will become Greasy Luck

Clearing out the space that will become Greasy Luck

It’s no secret that downtown New Bedford is about to hit hyper-drive; the evidence is everywhere and the place is practically a construction zone. In addition to Greasy Luck Brewing Co. and Moby Dick Brewing Co., the Co-Creative Center on Union is also in the midst of under-going its big renovation of historic pre-Civil War buildings into a multi-purpose arts destination. Soon, it will be joined by the boutique hotel planned at the corner of Union and Pleasant Streets.

Throw in an assortment of small businesses like Hippo – evolved from Shelley Cardoos’s Craft-O-Rama, the New Bedford Barber Co., a new Italian restaurant in the former Candleworks space plus other enterprises and you see what I mean: Downtown New Bedford is hitting a new plateau in an already impressive revitalization from its mid ’90s nadir.

Downtown NB is a construction zone...

Downtown NB is a construction zone…

It’s fun to catch the action at this stage of development – or redevelopment, I should write. Burnished by history but positioned for the future, this historic district is anything but all about history. Just like the former New Bedford Textile Institute building. It’s got a corner stone that reads “1898” yet is now home to Groundwork! At 1213 Purchase Street, it’s on the edge of the downtown building boom; a hardhat is a fashion accessory here rather than a necessity!

Whether it’s co-working spaces or bewpubs, adaptive re-use of historic buildings sets an entirely new standard in a city. Writing for The Atlantic magazine, James Fallows notes in the concluding article to a special series devoted to the future of America’s urban cores that, “A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries…”

New Bedford can soon check that box in the “or more” category. Read the full article here to find out that, hey – New Bedford has actually got all the damn boxes checked now!

Prepare for warp speed.


Steven Froias