By Angelo Parlove
The Chelsea Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will likely select a design professional at its Nov. 17 regular meeting to put together the design elements for the long-talked about Palmer lot project.
The DDA received proposals from five different companies for design services for the development, following the DDA’s request for proposal for the services in August. “Really, really pleased with the number and quality of submissions that we received,” said City Manager John Hanifan, the city staff liaison to the DDA. “All five of those companies have done a lot of great work on the number and kind of projects we’d like to see.”
However, the city has not yet determined which company it will recommend to the DDA board. “I reviewed them several times, but still haven’t landed on what would be a recommendation for the board,” Hanifan said. “We were good in our approach and got good coverage from both a price and company standpoint.”
At its Oct. 20 meeting, the DDA set a work meeting for Oct. 27, where board members will further discuss and review the five proposals. The board also indicated it would then likely award the design services at its next regular meeting on Nov. 17.
“Even if the work session is only validating what is the leader in the clubhouse, it is always a good thing,” Hanifan said. “I think the chance to deliberate, look at this a little deeper is always a good thing.”
The front runner for the design services at this point appears to be MC Smith Associates. Board member Ron Weiser said the company stood out to him. “They’ve done the kind of projects and the quality of projects that we want to have, and they are certainly by far the most reasonable, their hourly rates are reasonable, but more importantly they give us a number and the others are open ended,” Weiser said.
The DDA wants to develop the Palmer lot on Main Street into a downtown hub that will host a variety of programmed events like the farmers market and Sounds and Sights, but also more informal and impromptu gatherings.
The DDA held a work meeting on Aug. 11, where the board members compiled the ideas and elements they developed over the last 3-4 years for the request for proposal and design phase. Some of the ideas that got bounced around for the design included obvious elements such as restrooms, storage and bike racks. However, some elements that were discussed were more intricate, including a gateway entrance, water refill station, phone charging station and kitchen utilities.