At the February 8, 2022 City Council meeting, the City Manager presented an overview of downtown revitalization objectives, including a review of recent and upcoming changes. The presentation demonstrated a focus on pedestrians and bike connectivity.
The City's objectives for the downtown have centered around changing the image of the community to renew historical pride and create investment. Vacant spaces have been filled based on market forces, substandard properties have been upgraded, and the city has sought a balance of commercial and residential growth with a mixture of types of residential units.
Recent investments in the downtown to meet those goals include purchasing and removing MERC, Riverwalk planning and phase I construction, the pedestrian bridge to Saco, Laconia Plaza, sidewalk and streetscape improvements on Main, Lincoln, and South, and the Pearl Street parking garage. The City Council has also made policy choices that have supported the growth of the downtown. Programs like the flowers and holiday lighting, festivals, Heart of Biddeford, façade grants, the new downtown circulator bus, and the apartment inspection program make it a more welcoming place to visit and live.
The presentation includes conceptual images and engineering designs for upcoming and ongoing downtown projects, which, once completed, are set to improve the walkability and connectivity of the downtown:
- Hill, Water and Main Street intersection redesign
- Pearl Street Redevelopment - EDA Grant
- Pearl Street (Former MERC property) Redevelopment
- The Lincoln Mill – Phase 2 Plan includes hotel
- RiverDam project
- Diamond Match Project including extension of RiverWalk
- Saco Lowell rehab project and RiverWalk extension at the developer’s expense
- Pearl, Elm and Spruce Street intersection review and potential redesign
- Lincoln Street traffic review
- A proposed pedestrian and bike bridge that would connect Pearl Street to the Saco Transportation Center
- Pearl Street Riverside Park
- There is a plan in place to complete an extension of the Eastern Trail through downtown Biddeford to connect existing portions in Biddeford and Saco without any City funds.
- Rotary Park bicycle and pedestrian connections – new bike and pedestrian connections included in the upcoming Barra Rd development will help create a connection from the Eastern Trail to the park.
- Free Silver Line bus service through downtown Biddeford and Saco through BSOOB Transit
- South Street transportation study with Maine Turnpike and MDOT – considering new access point to the turnpike and possible South Street connector
The community has been able to support these changes with minimal impacts on homeowners’ tax bills. The owner of the median-priced home in the community is paying less in taxes now than they were eight years ago.
Downtown Overview Presentation (PDF)
Watch the Presentation - February 8, 2022 City Council Workshop Video