Cowdell: Time to update downtown traffic plan

May 2, 2013
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

Downtown traffic patterns should be reviewed and rerouted if the city wants to capitalize on development interest ranging from a microbrewery to a college satellite campus, the city’s top planner told business leaders Wednesday.

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell told Lynn Business Partnership members gathered at the Lynn Museum that an outdated traffic plan connecting crosstown streets such as Market and Washington with one-way side streets like Liberty and Oxford doesn’t make sense.

“A comprehensive plan needs to be done,” Cowdell said.

Cowdell said a half dozen development projects are under way or being planned in the area roughly bound by Market, Broad Street and Essex.

Rossetti’s, a Winthrop-based restaurant, wants to open a Lynn location in July. North Shore Community College is basing a 101-student culinary arts program and 40-seat cosmetology training salon in the former bank at 270 Union St. The satellite campus will open in September and Cathy Anderson, special assistant to College President Wayne Burton, said the Union Street building will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cowdell said three entrepreneurs have expressed interest in the last two months in opening a downtown microbrewery, and plans are unfolding to renovate the former Arnold’s Stationery building at 33 Central Ave. into eight artists’ live-and-work spaces.

There is also interest, Cowdell said, in opening a downtown sports pub, and downtown developer The Mayo Groups plan to complete a $4 million residential project at Silsbee and Broad streets by mid-July.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee said downtown has to be easy to navigate if new businesses are going attract customers.

“We need to get people here and they have to have a seamless way to get through the city — then the investments will come,” McGee told Partnership members.

Cowdell said downtown development interest mirrors the objective of the zoning changes intended to convert old buildings into residences with businesses on their ground floors. He said building renovation projects by Mayo and other developers attracted newcomers to Lynn who moved into buildings, including one with 32 residences, opposite Lynn District Court.

The new arrivals and what Cowdell called a successful city effort to revive Veterans Memorial Auditorium spurred business interest in downtown, with D’Amici’s bakery renovating a former Liberty Street screen and shade business into a bakery and cafe.

“Residents downtown will absolutely spur business development downtown. The typical person attending an event is spending $25 outside that event,” Cowdell said.

Cowdell and state Sen. Thomas M. McGee told partnership members several changes in off-street parking downtown need to be undertaken, including automated parking, opening the Liberty Street side of the Andrew Street parking lot, and providing free night parking in city lots for downtown residents.

Off Street Parking Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Cerulli said the commission is considering offering reduced rate residential night parking and said commissioners want to look at a plan prepared decades ago for building a parking garage on the Buffum Street city lot.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at


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