Planapalooza progress report: What do people want? River access, downtown retailers, affordable housing and more

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Fresh from the Granite State Comicon, the Amazing Spiderman, center, sat in on Sunday’s Planapalooza. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – The four days of public input on Manchester’s 10-year master plan during Planapalooza culminated on Sunday night in the Penstock Room of the DoubleTree Hotel with a pin-up session. Consultants from Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC) presented the preliminary findings of the information collected during Planapalooza and at satellite discussions around the city.

In what was great Manchester moment, Spiderman (and other costumed characters) showed up for the session. Perhaps the web-slinger was just unwinding from a weekend of Granite Comicon events, also held at the hotel. But the annual comic-themed convention is an example of ways the city draws in a diverse crowd and generates revenue – and also allows for businesses to build spin-off events at other downtown venues. This year, for example, Jupiter Hall, Electric Avenue, Argh Gallery and Boards and Brews all benefitted from the comic convention traffic.

On Sunday residents – and superheroes alike – shared their views on recreation, housing, cultural amenities, transportation, development, and infrastructure. Events took place at the Spotlight Room of the Palace Theatre and at the DoubleTree Hotel. According to Pamela Goucher, Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Manchester, 116 individuals participated in the various sessions.

Planapalooza is a hands-on opportunity for the community to map out the city’s future. Courtesy Photo

What do Manchester people want? Better access to the river. More independent retailers downtown. A reputation for innovation. Better signage to help visitors and residents navigate to destinations around the city.  A plan for Hackett Hill. And more housing stock, especially affordable housing.

During the pin-up presentation perceptions and thoughts of local residents were intermingled with data gathered and analyzed by the consultants. For example, in the next 10 years Manchester can expect to add 13,000 new jobs. Also, the city remains a regional shopping mecca with the malls and big box stores attracting shoppers from miles away. The downtown area, on the other hand, could use more small independent retailers. They suggested the development of micro-retail venues where small start-up vendors can share low-cost space. 

In every conversation throughout the process concern about the city’s shortage of housing was discussed. Both Manchester’s 10-Year Master Plan and 5-Year HUD Consolidated Plan are being updated this year. The city planning department and the consultants will gather additional input on the subject tonight, September 16, at 6 p.m. at the Manchester Community Resource Center, 434 Lake Avenue. A light dinner will be provided and children are welcome. 

The Pink Panther didn’t say much, but appeared to be interested in the city’s 10-Year Master Plan during Sunday night’s session at the Doubletree Hotel. Courtesy Photo

Manchester residents, public and private agencies, businesses & other interested parties are invited and encouraged to attend this community meeting. Some of the topics to be discussed include healthy neighborhoods, economic development, home ownership, affordable housing development, health and human services, strategies for the homeless, recreational opportunities, infrastructure improvements, planning and public management and education and skills development.

A final more detailed presentation by the consultants on the findings from the public input sessions and the results of the data analysis will be presented on Tuesday, September 17 at 6 p.m. at the Palace Theatre.

The master planning process will continue until June of 2020 when a proposal will be presented to the Board of Aldermen for approval. For those who are unable to attend events but would like to contribute to the discussion, the Plan Manchester website has a section where you can leave comments. https://planmanchester.com/tell-us-what-you-think


Below is a recap of public feedback so far