Many locals have dreams to transform Norwood Boulevard into a vibrant area, such as Norwood resident Eric Grant and The Aviary owners Mark and Philip Muz.
“The release of the study proposals and recommendations are a good start. It’s welcome progress and I’m happy to see this,” said Grant.
The Muz brothers stated that adequate street lighting could improve safety. A few bright spots on 111 Avenue from 90 to 93 Street help, such as in front of The Comic Shop, Budapest Delicatessen, and Frank Lee’s Muay Thai Kickboxing and MMA. Mark said Frank Lee’s studio provides much-needed street lighting at dusk or at night.
Grant and the Muz’s went on to say a vibrant and welcoming streetscape is also important, including well-designed mixed-use developments. On the ground level could be smaller lease spaces for four to five business start-ups rather than one large business. On the top floors could be housing, including three-bedroom suites for families.
The current streetscape of Norwood Boulevard is largely abysmal, so it’s important to improve the area’s appearance. The Aviary is renovating their building and the Norwood Fire Station No. 5 at 90 Street is also unique. These examples reflect character and individuality, using attractive, interesting, and innovative designs and finishes.
Mark would prefer development reflect more of the area’s best history, giving the look of an old town main street rather than our largely brutalist dilapidation.
Complementing land use and building development, the streetscape needs wider sidewalks, more trees, benches, planters, bus shelters, bike stands, lighting, and frequent and well-marked crosswalks.
“Well-curated art and streetscape decorations for interest and beautification should be included. However, that does not include anything remotely similar to the 118 Avenue and 97 Street public art of a giant baseball bat and/or metal sport figure cut-outs. It should either relate directly to the history of the area or be complementary to the builds of the boulevard,” said the Muz brothers.
Grant said walkability is crucial, such as keeping lanes behind developments while reducing driveways cutting across sidewalks into the boulevard. Grant prefers the bike lane to be on 114 Avenue so that bikes, motorized traffic, and fire truck traffic are separate and safer for everyone.
“Fire hall trucks will define the scope of transportation needs along the corridor, and will have some effect on shaping the street and streetscape,” said Grant.
Area businesses may thrive more if there were changes to moratoriums and development.
“[I’m] not a fan of moratoriums on some types of businesses, as gentrification will look after undesirable businesses,” said Grant.
The Muz brothers said there should “be a cap on how long a space can be empty for use and/or redevelopment.”
And the city could be a little more helpful to new businesses owners, the brothers said. “Streamline the planning approval process to be small business/start-up friendly, as it is currently too unwieldy, especially for someone new to business.”
“The intent of revitalization is to create a vibrant boulevard, and this cannot be accomplished by cheaping out and/or cheating. Norwood Boulevard, as any other area of the city, deserves equal consideration, planning, and support,” the brothers said.
Featured Image: Philip Muz (left) and Mark Elliot Muz (right) are passionate and invested in Norwood Boulevard. | Rebecca Lippiatt