A plan for reviving downtown Newport

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copyright the Chronicle August 30, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The consultant hired by the city to help develop a redevelopment strategy in the wake of the collapse of Jay Peak’s Newport EB-5 efforts presented a preliminary report at the Gateway Center last week.

David White, who heads White and Burke, a company that has assisted other cities, including St. Albans, to bring their downtowns back to life, spoke along with his associate Joe Weith.

It was their second meeting with the Newport City Renaissance Corporation and a steering committee of business leaders.

Mr. White’s company was hired by the city council in March and has been working since then to gather information and develop plans.

While its recommendations are far from finalized, Mr. White said the city should work to bring a hotel to Newport, possibly by converting the Emory Hebard State Office Building.

He also suggested the creation of a tax increment finance district to help create conditions for economic development in the city.

Mr. White also encouraged the city to participate somehow in the sale of the former Spates Block in order to be sure its new owner’s plans work well with those of the city.

The Burke and White study is one of a series of investigations into how Newport can revive itself. Those include the Regional Urban Design Team (RUDAT) visits in 2009 and 2011.

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Newport council excluded from redevelopment meeting

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — City council members were surprised, and none too happy, to learn Tuesday that the consultant they hired to guide the city’s redevelopment efforts would be meeting with a steering committee organized by the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC) the next morning.

The council members were not invited to the meeting, which is to plan strategies for economic redevelopment in the city. In fact, they only learned about it when a reporter called to ask what they knew about it.

When asked if he knew there was to be such a meeting, City Council President John Wilson replied, “I did not know that.”

He said he was not pleased to learn he had been excluded from that information, but said only that he would deal with the matter, “in my own way.”

Council member Denis Chenette said, “I didn’t know about it until Mr. Wilson called me.”

Three council members said they plan to crash the gates at the meeting.

According to Newport Mayor Paul Monette, there was no reason the council members should have been informed. He said he was invited to be a steering committee member by NCRC.

“I attend a lot of meetings, I don’t tell the council about all of them,” Mr. Monette said Tuesday evening. “Sometimes I meet with people who want to do business in the city. I don’t tell the council because they ask me not to.”

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