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FOLLOW UP: Branding Purchase Street takes Wing(s)

Over the course of the past year, several meetings were held to discuss ideas regarding the branding of Purchase Street and surrounding environs downtown, such as Wings Court. Those emerging branding and design ideas will now be put under the public microscope this coming Monday, July 31.

TDI Fellow James McKeag writes in his invitation, “Join us for a public review and discussion of emerging ideas for design and branding ideas for Purchase Street and Wings Court. We love to know what you think! The meeting will be held at the UMass College of Visual and Performing Art at the Star Store campus lecture room in downtown New Bedford, Monday, July 31, from 6-8 pm. Hope to see you there!”

Jim McKeag is shepherding the process along on behalf of MassDevelopment. It’s part of his mandate as a TDI Fellow in New Bedford – and part of the Purchase-Union Innovation District Project. I wrote about it here and you can acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with the background at that link, if you’d like. The entire project will also see Union Street transformed from roughly S. Water Street to Pleasant Street, bringing the successful streetscape project on lower Union further up the hill.

The focus of Monday’s meeting will be design ideas that seek to tie the entire downtown area together visually, from the Elm Street Parking Garage through the National Park historic district up to Purchase Street and beyond.

And, a more consistent and better use of Wings Court is key to providing the correct balance point between the various points of interest downtown.

Wings Court takes center stage

Wings Court right now is somewhat of a bastard space. It’s a pathway; it’s a sometimes retail and market space; it affords space for limited-access, outdoor seating to Pour Farm Tavern, Brick and Destination Soups; and occasionally it’s a venue for music or even outdoor wrestling matches.

But mostly, it suffers from an identity crisis and the most transformative part of the plan you’ll see on Monday, July 31 is criteria to properly establish Wings Court as a functioning urban space in downtown New Bedford.

Jim at Groundwork!

Jim McKeag works from right here out of Groundwork! – so some of us were able to preview the plan as it came together. McKeag has done a great job of assimilating all the input received from various parties and turning it into a blueprint for action items. Other exciting elements of the vision include public art projects and enhanced lighting suggestions.

What I personally liked best about this plan is its incremental nature. It’s doable – not grandiose. It builds on past achievements rather than reinvents wheel. It’s an evolution – not a revolution.

So, you don’t need to bring pitchforks with you on Monday – but your sound judgement and dedication to a downtown and city moving in the right direction riding on the wings of the future.

You can RSVP here.

Steven Froias