Framingham Downtown Renaissance, Inc. (FDR) is non-profit corporation, set up to facilitate the development of downtown Framingham as a vibrant commercial and residential/mixed-use activity center. Its objectives are to encourage public/private partnership and investment, generate jobs and income, and improve quality of life at a location that is highly visible and critically important to the MetroWest region.
Organizations that have been actively involved in FDR include MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, TD Banknorth, Middlesex Savings Bank, START Partnership, BRAMAS, Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham Public Library, Performing Arts Center of MetroWest, MetroWest Medical Center, Framingham Garden Club, Framingham History Center, MetroWest Daily News, Framingham.com, NAACP, League of Women Voters, Mass Bay Community College, Community Health Center, Framingham Dept. of Community & Economic Development, EDIC (Economic Development & Industrial Corp. of Framingham), Framingham Board of Selectmen, Framingham Planning Board, Framingham Police Department, Offices of the State Senator and State Representative, as well as individual businesses, churches and property owners.
The current (2013) FDR Board of Directors consists of: Executives -- Dr. Dale Hamel, President (Framingham State University), Michael Gatlin, Vice President (EDIC), Peggy Fuller, Treasurer (Peoples United Bank), Elsa Hornfischer, Clerk (START Partnership); Board Members -- Drita Protopapa (MAPA Translations), Ed Carr (MetroWest Regional Transit Authority), David Bennett (Middlesex Savings Bank), Marlene Aron (MetroWest Commercial Realty).
A History of Progress
FDR was started in 2003 as a monthly discussion group, initiated by the Town of Framingham's Community & Economic Development Dept. and the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC), to bring together town officials, property owners, business operators and representatives of civic organizations in support of a coordinated approach to downtown revitalization. The Framingham Board of Selectmen and Planning Board played supporting roles in launching this initiative.
The discussion group was seen as a way to support efforts of town leaders to further downtown improvement and development, while furthering the four-point approach endorsed by the National Main Street Program: (1) Organization - building public-private consensus, cooperation and funding sources, (2) Design - providing a vision for enhancing the district’s physical appearance through building rehabilitation,new construction and public improvements, (3) Promotion - marketing the district through events and advertising to attract customers, investors, businesses, residents, and visitors, and (4) Economic Restructuring - strengthening the district's economic base and creating new opportunities through careful analysis and appropriate mixed-use development.
The positive activity now happening in Downtown Framingham is greater than at anytime in recent history, due directly to FDR’s work over the last six years. FDR activitires include:
- Produced Downtown Vision Plan and Downtown Visualization Report to help guide future downtown development.
- Secured state grant funds directed to planning studies; also private grant funds and in-kind contributions.
- Participated in Advisory Committee for the Downtown Rail Crossing & Transit Oriented Development projects.
- Produced Downtown web site; Co-directed downtown business training and restaurant/arts promotions.
Click for further details on these activities, which helped set the stage for additional public investments in Downtown Framingham, including $6 to $10 million for new lighting, sidewalk/streetscape and road infrastructure improvements, as well as studies of rail crossing options and pedestrian access. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to attract more business and more people into the downtown area.
Although Framingham’s downtown is experiencing many successes, the area still faces the same trends as many traditional downtowns: the movement of national retailing to malls and commercials strips, the decline of traditional manufacturing employment, and disinvestment followed by renewed vitality with the arrival of entrepreneurial immigrants. In response, FDR members began a strategic planning process to transform Downtown Framingham into the vibrant business center many believe it can and should be. The FDR Strategic Plan, adopted August 24, 2008, focuses on these specific, measureable goals: (1) increase or improve 100,000 square feet of commercial and cultural space in Downtown Framingham; (2) increase housing units by 250; (3) attract $50 million in capital injection for Downtown Framingham, (4) support Town efforts on public infrastructure, and (5) sustain FDR as a viable 501(c)(3) organization.