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FOLLOW-UP: The New Bedford Purchase-Union Innovation District


Looking onto Purchase Street from the Z’s Penler space.

The first public meeting to discuss the Purchase-Union Innovation District took place this past Monday morning in the Zeiterion Theatre’s Penler Space, as we previously wrote about here. Even though it was 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, there was a big turn-out – which bodes well for future public participation in the project. Further meetings will be held at various times, including during the evening, ensuring this remains the case.

At the Purchase-Union Innovation District meeting.

At the Purchase-Union Innovation District meeting.

Log-In and CoUrbanize!

However, if you’re interested in having a say about how the streetscape is transformed downtown, you can start participating right away at It’s an innovative online tool being deployed on behalf of urban design here in New Bedford and elsewhere.

At, you’ll find the following:

“The Purchase-Union Innovation District is a project to create a complete Downtown New Bedford—a destination for unique shopping and dining, and a home for walkable urban living.”

MassDevelopment is studying the elements needed to make the Innovation District the hub of Greater New Bedford’s economy, with strong connections to the waterfront, the National Historic Park, and the city’s many great neighborhoods. There are two parts to the plan: infrastructure improvements and design. What would make you spend more time in Downtown New Bedford, or even live there? Be a part of the plan by posting a comment here!”

You can create an account for yourself and sign to comment on the project and get more background about it. By creating an account for yourself, you’ll also be notified about upcoming meetings and project developments. will answer all your questions about the Purchase-Union Innovation District and hopefully provoke some new ones from you.

Connecting New Bedford


One of the persons leading the effort is New Bedford’s MassDevelopment’s T.D.I. fellow, James McKeag (pictured above in the blue shirt). He works from right here out of Groundwork. So, we’re seeing first-hand the planning going into this project – and get a glimpse into its future. We’ll share that information as details are finalized – but can confidently write that some out-of-the-box thinking is going on. While this project concerns itself with downtown’s Union and Purchase Streets, it is very much being envisioned as hub and launching pad for the entire city by forging connections to other parts New Bedford.

The public meetings and online forum at represent a solid opportunity to participate in the project. It’s certainly democratic and very egalitarian, and immediately begins fulfilling one mission of this innovation district: Turning it into a city-wide and regional destination.

So, if your feet can’t meet the pavement yet, let your fingers do the walking across your keyboard and log-in to Union and Purchase Streets today. Start sharing your ideas and comments and have your say in shaping New Bedford’s future.

It’s a hop, skip and click away – at this link!

Steven Froias