The Goshen Redevelopment Commission has decided to meld two housing proposals for the east bank of the millrace and we hope this is the right decision.
One proposal would construct Arts & Crafts-style family homes in a communal setting, whereby families would have front porches and share a common outdoor area. The second proposal is for three-story townhouses that would be customized for the buyers.
Feeling both proposals (the only two submitted) have merit, the commission decided to have the two development groups discuss sharing the 7-acre property. Now the idea is for townhouses to be built on the north end of the property and the family homes be built on the south end. The developments would be separated by vegetation.
When looking around the neighborhood adjacent to the millrace, we see modest family homes. It seems logical to continue that pattern of architecture for neighborhood cohesion. Inserting three-story townhouses will be a development gamble because of the single-family tradition and neighborhood atmosphere.
But some people in Goshen feel the city needs to reach out to wealthier people who want to live in an upscale condo atmosphere. The townhouse concept would provide such housing. And as long as a private developer is on the hook for the financial outcome, we can’t find much wrong with the commission’s Solomonic decision to split the property.
We think the Redevelopment Commission has done a fine job with directing the redevelopment of the rest of the millrace corridor, including the transfer of the historic Hawks factory building to LaCasa Inc., the renovation of the millrace powerhouse, the demolition of the former city garage and the addition of the functional and attractive public parking lot south of Interra Credit Union.
As a community we have entrusted these commissioners with important decisions in the past, and we are again relying on them to guide us on this project. But our advice to the commission members on the housing project is to keep their options open. We think it would be wise to put a time limit on start and finish for development for each concept. That way if one of the projects takes off and has a lot of people willing to invest in that concept and the other project stagnates, the more successful concept can expand quickly onto more of the property.
It is exciting to see two groups interested in this important piece of property in the historic heart of the city. Done properly, both can add vitality to the city’s core and fill a void left by manufacturing companies that have long gone out of existence.