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Group to begin marketing new uses for downtown Marlborough

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – With the City Council recently signing off on a downtown rezoning proposal aimed at spurring redevelopment in the city center, the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation will begin actively marketing the area next month.

In hopes of kick starting redevelopment and showcasing downtown Marlborough, MEDC officials will lead more than 50 prospective developers on a tour of the city center and detail the new accepted uses downtown, including hotels, brewpubs, bed and breakfasts and music recording studios, during a luncheon March 9, said Tim Cummings, executive director of the MEDC.

“It will be more targeted marketing and outreach,” he said.

Cummings hopes the tour will help local developers see the potential downtown Marlborough offers.

“We have a very attractive downtown,” he said.

The organization also plans to work with trade groups in the coming weeks to promote the new uses allowed downtown, said Cummings.

Late last year, city officials approved the new “Marlborough Village” zoning district that encourages mixed-use projects with retail space on lower floors and housing on upper floors.

The zoning changes also ease requirements on parking and building dimensions for developers, who in turn have to comply with more stringent design standards. The zoning allows developers to make payments in lieu of creating parking and use parking that is available in the municipal garages downtown.

Previous zoning for Main Street was the same as it is along the less dense stretches of Rte. 20 in the east and west side. That zoning carried prohibitive rules – such as setback requirements meant for more suburban settings – that would rule out the type of development city officials want.

Although the city hasn’t received any proposals for new downtown developments since the new zoning was implemented in December, Cummings hopes the MEDC’s marketing efforts will attract developers to the city center.

“I’m not aware of any major developments, but we are in the cold season,” he said. “I’m trying to work with city leaders to have it happen as soon as possible. We have a great downtown. We’re putting a lot of work into keeping that effort going.”

Citing the redevelopment of Boston’s Seaport district, which took several years, Cummings noted it will take time to revamp Marlborough center. Cummings is hopeful the city can attract a few major projects in the next few years to speed up that development.

“We could see a quicker timeline,” he said.

With several new uses allowed downtown, Cummings hopes to see mixed-use developments combining housing with restaurants, as well as cultural and entertainment uses.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.