The Urban Renewal Plan

“Connect. Construct. Create.” builds on the City’s Master Plan using its strong heritage, infrastructure and economic advantages to make a better community for all to live, work and play. The action steps laid out in the plan will maximize opportunities for private development within the Center City over the next several years. Its primary purpose is to promote economic development and growth in Holyoke by capitalizing on the City’s unique characteristics, ‘connecting’ people and places; ‘constructing’ public infrastructure and a diverse stock of commercial, residential and industrial buildings; and ‘creating’ a more vibrant and prosperous Center City.

The Holyoke Master Plan

In 1997 and 1998, the City conducted an extensive planning process involving hundreds of Holyokers from all parts of the community and all walks of life. The Master Plan was designed as a collective agenda which intended to serve as a guide for future development in the City of Holyoke.

Rapid Recovery Plan

The Office of Planning & Economic Development has been engaged with Third Eye Network on the Massachusetts Rapid Recovery Plan Program. The program is intended to provide every municipality in Massachusetts the opportunity to develop actionable, project-based recovery plans tailored to the unique economic challenges and COVID-19 related impacts to downtowns, town centers, and commercial areas across the commonwealth. The target area of the Holyoke Plan is the Center City Neighborhoods of Downtown, Churchill, South Holyoke, and the Flats.

Springdale Corridor-Main Street Project

The Springdale Corridor-Main Street Project (formerly announced as the CT River Pathway) will provide a safe and innovative shared-used path for residents and visitors by connecting Route 5 to Springdale Park. This project compliments the ongoing plan for Rehabilitation of Route 5 from MassDOT, project number 604209, by expanding on the shared-used pathway planned on the eastern side of Main Street. This project will be fundamental foundation for a network of trails that will enhance the experiences and destinations for all, including access to recreational spaces and ongoing place-making efforts on Main Street.

Holyoke Tourism Plan

Creating the Holyoke Tourism Strategic Plan is the first attempt of its kind in modern times.  The work involved several months of research, site visits, data collection, analysis, interviews, and workshops with the city’s leading stakeholders in tourism and economic development. The Holyoke Office of Planning and Economic Development led this project, created the scope of work, directed the consultant, collected information, and organized the stakeholders.

Center City Vision Plan

The Center City Vision Plan of 2009 was prepared to set the framework for the revitalization of the historic core of the City, which was once the vibrant centerpiece of this planned industrial community. As with many other industrial cities throughout New England, Holyoke is proactively planning ahead for the future reinvestment in its Center City area by working closely with its diverse community of residents, business owners, institutions and numerous organizations, to help shape a plan. The Vision Plan identifies opportunities to capitalize on the unique aspects of Holyoke’s heritage and green power generation, while embracing new opportunities for job growth, population growth and place making. The goal of the Vision Plan is to set the direction for the Center City and its neighborhoods to realize their future potential.

Holyoke Preservation Plan

The purpose of the plan is to provide an updated vision for preservation and to provide guidance to the city, especially to the Historical Commission, the Office of Planning and Economic Development, and other policy makers, on actions that should be taken to support historic preservation in Holyoke over the next dozen years. It reflects a comprehensive look at existing documentation including existing plans, maps, regulations, field work including reconnaissance of the Center City area, threatened historic resources, city owned property and public outreach from city staff to community stakeholders.

Main Street Corridor Historic Survey

This project was an intensive-level neighborhood survey of its Main Street Corridor. Running parallel to, and just below the Second Level Canal, Main Street spans neighborhoods called the Flats and South Holyoke. The area was a locus of development during the early periods of industrial development of the city, initially conceived of and planned as a textile manufacturing center by a group of Boston investors.

Holyoke Innovation District

The following document presents an innovation-based economic development strategy to enhance job opportunities and long-term economic viability for Holyoke’s Innovation District and the entire Pioneer Valley region. The Innovation District is defined as the Center City area of Holyoke (consistent with the Urban Renewal Plan) and the Pioneer Valley consists of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties in Massachusetts (with labor market and transportation linkages into Connecticut). The strategy emphasizes mechanisms to maximize the potential for the MGHPCC to be a catalyst for economic development.

Holyoke Innovation District Ideabook

Placemaking is a process of turning physical spaces into meaningful places as a tool to foster innovation.  This placemaking IdeaBook examines the innovative placemaking successes of other cities, and suggests how grassroots, bottom-up placemaking can be successful in Holyoke.

South Holyoke

Completed in March of 2008, the purpose of the South Holyoke Revitalization Strategy was to mobilize the community residents, organizations, businesses, and municipality in a shared effort to a transform the South Holyoke neighborhood into a more desirable place to live and work. It also inspired, and many of its recommendations fed the Holyoke Center City Vision Plan of 2009 and the Urban Renewal Plan of 2012-2013

South Holyoke Housing Development

The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority secured $150,000 of predevelopment funds through the Urban Agenda grant program through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The HRA contracted with the Holyoke Housing Authority to coordinate the work.

Urban Tree Assessment

Developing and implementing a plan to re-forest public streets and public parks within targeted neighborhoods is a crucial component of the City’s plan to enhance the quality of life for a substantial portion of the City’s residents. This analysis supports the goal of reducing overall energy and storm water management expenses and ensuring equal access to the environmental benefits of trees across all demographics. The resultant prioritized planting plan is based on maximizing environmental and social benefits.

Green Streets Guide

Green Streets are streetscapes designed to infiltrate stormwater close to its source using green infrastructure, while also creating more vibrant, livable communities. This Guidebook is intended to present Green Streets best practices to Holyoke stakeholders and serve as a preliminary set of design guidelines to transform Holyoke’s streets into more ecologically, socially, and economically positive spaces. This project was undertaken in the Winter of 2014 by Conway School graduate students with guidance from the Conservation Department and community leaders in Holyoke.

City Market Analysis

In 2010, the City of Holyoke hired RKG Associates, Inc. in association with Vanesse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) to assist in preparing an Urban Renewal Plan for the Center City area. RKG’s role was to establish baseline conditions and market characteristics in Center City, the City as a whole and Hampden County (region). RKG reviewed demographic and employment trend data as well as short term forecasts in order to quantify a potential building demand that may be captured in Center City over the near term.

Additional Studies

Mt. Tom Power Plant

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), in partnership with the City of Holyoke, undertook a study to identify, assess and analyze potential reuses of the Mt. Tom Power Plant site. The Mt. Tom Power Plant shut down its coal-fired operations in 2014 after over 40 years of power generation on the site.

H.H. Richardson Train Station

This report explores potential new uses and suggests strategies for transforming the former station into a valuable hub of activity in Holyoke’s Innovation District. The station could serve as the centerpiece for a reinvented Depot Square area while respecting the unique history of the surrounding city as an immigrant/migrant destination.

Depot Square Historic Study

The goal of the project is to study is to explore the history and historic buildings that composed “Depot Square”, the area between the H.H. Richardson Building on Lyman and Bowers Street, south towards the intersection of Appleton and Main Streets. Through the understanding of the square’s history and significance to Holyoke, the project engaged a wide range of people who live and work in the Depot Square area through a series of interactive events and discussions to envision the role the square could play going forward into Holyoke’s future. The events were called “Envision Depot Square”.

Vacant Building Re-Use

The City of Holyoke, along with MassDevelopment, worked on this study to encourage property owners in the downtown area to reinvest in, and market, properties that have been vacant or significantly underutilized. MassDevelopment engaged McCabe Enterprises to assess four properties for their potential for redevelopment in downtown Holyoke. The study used four sites where private investment could significantly complement public actions related to the Urban Renewal Plan, and where information gathered could likely be used in some decision-making capacity by property owners of other, similar buildings in the Center City area.

Whiting Farms Survey

This 18.7 acre lot on Whiting Farms Road is currently owned by the Holyoke Gas and Electric, and is currently zoned for general business. In February of 2014, the Office of Planning and Economic Development embarked on a study to gauge what uses are desirable on the site, guided by residents feedback.

CODE Services Reviews

Empty and/or underutilized former industrial mill buildings adorn the City of Holyoke. As part of the City’s urban renewal plan titled “Connect, Construct, Create: A plan for the revitalization of Center City Holyoke”, many of these buildings are envisioned as mixed-use and live/work spaces in an attractive, densely populated Arts & Innovation district. One of the most often sited barriers in developing downtown Holyoke has been the difficulty in changing the permitted use of those industrial buildings. When a change of use is intended for a space, a study must first be conducted in order to analyze what building, accessibility and fire code requirements would be mandated for the new use.

Artist Space Analysis

In 2011, the City of Holyoke issued a survey in an effort to seek the opinions of artists, creative persons, and art/culture patrons in the development of arts and culture in downtown Holyoke.  The results of the survey will be used to determine strategies and initiatives to meet the housing, studio/work space, gallery/displace space, cultural and marketing needs of the Arts and Innovation District.

Passenger Rail

The restoration of passenger rail service in Holyoke is possible due to the realignment of the Knowledge Corridor Rail Line, which will shorten the distance and improve speeds along Amtrak’s Vermonter service line.  A train stop will be built at the bottom of Dwight street, near the intersection with Main street in Center City Holyoke, on the west side of the track. This site is located approximately one-tenth of a mile to the south of the former Station location, three-tenths of a mile from City Hall and just north  to of the Holyoke’s first freight rail station site.

Lyman Terrace

Having been built in 1939, Lyman Terrace is the oldest of the Authority’s public housing properties. Uniquely located in the center of downtown Holyoke, a short block from City Hall, Lyman Terrace directly abuts the stores on High Street, making all units within walking distance to stores, restaurants and banks. Lyman Terrace is a short walk to the Holyoke Health Center, the Holyoke Canal Walk, the Holyoke Children’s Museum, The Volleyball Hall of Fame, Heritage Park and the Holyoke Transportation Center.