By STEVE FREKER
MALDEN — From a development perspective, the lower end of Commercial Street at the city line with Medford and Everett has been the subject of discussion and speculation for decades.
Other sections of Malden have undergone sweeping transformation, from the major changes in Malden Square to residential construction in many places around the city.
But this area has remained largely unchanged, although long eyed as one with untapped potential.
That is all changing soon as the newly-renamed section of Malden, the Commercial Street Corridor, is targeted for a major focus on its redevelopment potential. The plan is to both preserve and create jobs, and create and maintain open space along the Malden River.
A comprehensive study funded by a $75,000 grant from MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency, is now underway. Part of the overall focus of the Commercial Street Framework Plan study is to seek public input on improvements that would promote job creation and overall economic development.
To that end a public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at the John and Christina Markey Senior Center auditorium, 7 Washington St. This is the first of two public meetings where residents are encouraged to share knowledge of the area; provide feedback on potential framework strategies; and help shape the future of the Commercial Street Corridor.
The Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) and the city of Malden are conducting the Commercial Street Framework Plan study, with assistance from consultants from Harriman Architecture, Engineering & Planning and a nonprofit agency, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), which specializes in urban economic development.
“The study will identify strategies to enhance access to the Malden River, improve open space and implement appropriate zoning and land use regulations,” said MRA Director Deborah Burke at the last Malden City Council meeting before summer recess. “It will define how these strategies support diversified job retention and creation along the corridor that reflect Malden’s competitive edge in the region.”
Jobs, both creating new ones for now and the future as well as retaining ones that exist, are keys for the study, said Amanda Maher of MassDevelopment, which is funding Malden’s Commercial Street study.
“We want to look at how we preserve jobs and create a more robust set of uses,” said Maher, adding that this includes identifying which businesses would be best suited for that part of the city.
Another part of the study will be to determine how best to address the future of the Malden DPW building and yard on Commercial Street, long the subject of speculation. With few locations in Malden lacking the size to accommodate a relocation, this has been a dilemma.
The new focus on Malden’s end of the Commercial Street/Corporation Way corridor comes at a time when the RiversEdge development, a quarter-mile south from the Malden side, has been flourishing, and the nearby Wynn Casino development project is well on its way.
MRA Director Burke said she hopes Malden residents come out to the meeting July 19 to share their ideas and get informed on plans for the Commercial Street Corridor.
“We want to solicit ideas, answer questions and get feedback from Malden residents, business owners as well as community groups and others who want to participate,” said Burke.