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Marlborough report: relax rules, bring hotel to downtown

WORCESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL – A study released Tuesday recommends that Marlborough relax zoning and parking regulations downtown, improve pedestrian and bike connections in the area and attract additional amenities, such a hotel.

The 19-page report compiled by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Boston said requiring 10 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of development is onerous and unnecessary since municipal parking structures are just half full on a typical day. Rather, ULI recommends just 2.5 parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet while beefing up enforcement of on-street parking time limits to increase the turnover of spaces.

The panel recommended changing zoning regulations to permit mixed-use development – now prohibited downtown – while allowing for no setbacks and 100 percent lot development. Buildings in the downtown area are currently required to be set off the street by at least 50 feet.

To promote vehicle trips through downtown, the group advised removing at least one lane on Granger Boulevard and eliminating the right-turn lane from Main Street to Granger, which is often used to bypass downtown. Improving street lighting, bicycle lanes and landscaping should also make Main Street more appealing, the group said.

The ULI also encouraged the city to try to attract a hotel, fitness center and entertainment options downtown to boost after-hours activity in the area and cut down on vacant or underutilized buildings. The group also suggested that the U.S. Postal Service Distribution Center on Granger Boulevard could make for a good hotel site.

The report was compiled at the request of the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation to help revitalize the city’s downtown.

This story was originally published here.