Top 10 Problems with Downtown
So, I've got a list of what I think are the top 10 problems with Downtown Framingham. Hopefully the Arcade people will be able to fix these problems, and create a new shopping oasis for the people of the Town of Framingham and the region of MetroWest.
- Lousy Buildings. While many of these are being fixed with the project. However, there is a general bad perception of the downtown area because of the dated buildings that surround the area.
- Abundance of Shopping Centers. It's unlikely that Arcade management will be able to get any luxury boutiques or upscale restaurants, as they are all headed to the Natick Mall Expansion. Regardless of what the tenants will be, there will now be a new location for people to shop, which is likely to reduce potential shoppers from other towns.
- Local Residents/Buildings. Remember the Framingham town planner who asked that Brazilian flags be taken down in order to make the neighborhood look better, and then got fired? That is far from the big problem with the downtown. With people like the "can lady" here, along with the official "can man" who roams the town, and a freakin' methadone clinic downtown, who the heck is going to shop there?
- Crime. Crime is also an problem, as it is a constant issue. Someone on (I believe) Frambors noted that a weapon was stolen from a store downtown as Town Meeting was going on, only a block away.
- Too Many Drunks. In a recent Framingham TAB poll, almost every shop in Downtown Framingham has problems with drunks walking in off of the streets
- Traffic. Lots of this is caused by the train tracks. However, this could be used to an advantage. If someone was on their way to Market Basket, got stuck in traffic, and saw something attractive in a window, there is a slight chance that they might look at the item further
- Neighborhood perception. Would anyone in MetroWest pick living in Downtown Framingham over living where they are now? I would highly doubt it. It's possible to change the perception, but a lot of work is needed to change people's minds. Additionally, they'd pretty much have to get the free methadone clinics and the like out of town.
- Sex offenders. Did you know that there are 15 sex offenders living near Downtown Framingham? Guess how many live in other parts of Framingham? It's 0. This just adds to the belief that Downtown Framingham is unsafe
- Parking. Parking isn't all that easy in Downtown, although I'll bet that the Arcade is going to fix this in some way or another. Yet it is another perception that needs to be changed.
- Existing Residents/Where Do They Go? It's a question that is presently unanswered. If Downtown is going to be upscale, then what part of the town becomes the dumping ground? Most of the area residents are priced out of the Northside, the Southwest side of town (Salem End Rd.) has relatively no apartments and is pricey as well. The current residents aren't going to disappear, and if the idea is to rid downtown of it's current residents, and shops, and methadone clinics, etc., then where does it all go?
These are just 10 things I thought of right now that are reasons that the Arcade won't succeed in the way it is intended. Yes, my views are controversial, but it just doesn't seem that this project will become a success. I liked what a Boston Globe article many years ago had to say about Framingham's Southside. The downtown used to be a place for people who were "up and coming", for different ethnic groups. All of European descent, they came to Southside Framingham, and went on to the Northside, then to Wayland, then Weston, whatever. But that cycle is over: people that are Downtown are stuck downtown, for whatever reason.
I'd love to tell others that I'm from Framingham with dignity and prowess, and not speak quietly as to subdue that I'm from the same place that has the shittiest downtown in the state, and an idiot who gets into dumpsters for cans. Maybe someday, this won't be the state of things, and I certainly hope that it isn't. But for now, this is what we're stuck with. Oh well. Two more years and I'm outta here.