Fitchburg’s ReImagine North of Main initiative received a three-year, $400,000 grant, and then engaged local anchor institutions, the city itself, and numerous partners to focus on Fitchburg’s redevelopment efforts in the struggling North of Main neighborhood and the abutting downtown. From the start, the initiative made certain North of Main residents were at the center of the revitalization efforts. The Fitchburg team, with major involvement from Fitchburg State University, created a $100 million pipeline of new investment opportunities, changed city property practices, and engaged residents in all the changes.
Fitchburg’s North of Main neighborhood is home to approximately 18 percent of Fitchburg’s population, and 30 percent of its residents are Hispanic. Compared to other Fitchburg neighborhoods, it has higher unemployment rates, higher poverty rates, more single-parent families, lower levels of educational attainment, lower levels of English language proficiency, and a lower median income. North of Main faces several challenges, including job flight, a blighted and underutilized downtown, a deteriorating housing stock, vacant lots and buildings, low homeownership, high crime rates, and low high school graduation rates.
The strategy of the Reimagine North of Main team evolved over the course of the Working Cities Challenge grant funding period. The team narrowed its approach by shifting focus to three key goals: neighborhood development, economic development, and community engagement. The team also began to concentrate more on “place,” specifically ways to revitalize the downtown through economic development strategies and a pipeline of projects aimed at sparking additional growth. The team’s neighborhood development work is focusing on housing market conditions, as well as a campaign to market the neighborhood as a gateway to arts and culture. The team is trying to strengthen engagement with neighborhood residents and build more diverse leadership.
Fitchburg is working to “reimagine” the North of Main as a neighborhood of choice: a place where residents and business owners want to live, work, play, and invest.
- Montachusett Opportunity Council (Backbone)
- City of Fitchburg
- NewVue Communities
- Montachusett Regional Planning Commission
- Fitchburg State University
- Fitchburg Public Schools
- Fitchburg Art Museum
- Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts
- Fitchburg Historic Society
- Cleghorn Neighborhood Center
- Elm Street Neighborhood Assn.
- Community Health Connections
- Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg & Leominster
- Growing Places Garden Project
- Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board
- Resource Management Solutions Inc.
- North Central Mass Chamber of Commerce
- Sizer, North Central Charter Essential School
- Workers Credit Union