Cooper Robertson has been selected by the City of Middletown, Connecticut, to lead development of a master plan for a key portion of the city’s riverfront.
The initiative, including project partners Karp Strategies and Langan, aims to reimagine a roughly 81-ha (200-acre) stretch of land along the Connecticut River as a vibrant and accessible new city district with open spaces and mixed uses.
Long separated from the surrounding community by a major state highway, the riverfront master plan area lies less than 1.6 km (1 mi) from Wesleyan University and just south of Middletown’s existing Harbor Park.
“Cooper Robertson is honored to be a part of this transformational project, and we are excited to support the Middletown community in developing a forward-looking and inclusive vision for the city’s riverfront,” said Mike Aziz, AIA, LEED AP, a Cooper Robertson partner.
“Reconnecting to the Connecticut River with a diverse array of uses will help Middletown chart a course for a future that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable,” Aziz said. “It is a chance for the city and its residents to thrive in new and exciting ways while setting a powerful precedent for smart growth in southern New England.”
The riverfront master plan team was selected through a competitive proposal process overseen by Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim, local and regional planning and business leaders, and community advocates. To develop a comprehensive and equitable vision for the riverfront’s future, Cooper Robertson and project partners will host a planning process of community inclusion and stakeholder engagement led by Karp Strategies. These phases of discussion aim to gather an array of community interest groups to help set priorities and identify opportunities for public space alongside new restaurants, retail, housing, mixed-use commercial space, and the preservation and adaptive reuse of existing structures.
Recognizing core challenges facing post-industrial urban waterfronts nationwide, the master plan will also explore critical issues around resilience, flood risk, and environmental conditions through the involvement of Langan, an engineering and environmental services firm. According to Middletown leaders, state and federal grant-funded environmental remediation and assessment is already underway at the former industrial parcels in the master plan area.
Work on the riverfront master plan begins this summer, as the City of Middletown announces the start of public engagement initiatives introducing the planning team to the community and establishing a timeframe and budget.