| 2 min | by Doug Marrin |
Chelsea’s Downtown Development Authority submitted a request to the City Council at its June 1 meeting to allow the use of Palmer Commons as a retail and service center.
“The concept was to allow Palmer Commons to be used for flexible space, whether it’s for retail or services, knowing that businesses are going to be limited for occupancy up to fifty-percent,” City Manager John Hanifan explained to the council. “The idea is for Palmer Commons to host a ‘Retail Day’ or ‘Commerce Day.’”
While specifics of such a plan have yet to be fleshed out, the concept is to make Palmer Commons available “to do what we can to support local businesses,” Hanifan explained. “A specific plan would have to be brought back to Council, but we wanted to at least get the concept approved.”
Councilmember Jane Pacheco favored the idea, but as others on the council also expressed, was hesitant to approve a concept instead of a specific plan.
“I understand and I applaud the concept and the theory,” said Pacheco during the discussion. “I’m a little concerned at the ambiguity of the motion. I understand that we would be looking for more detail to come back to us, but I have questions as to who would coordinate and manage it and how the hours would look.”
Unsure of which Chelsea businesses would be interested in taking advantage of the Common’s expanded use, Mayor Johnson explained the DDA did not want to add too much detail to the request and instead let the city’s administrative staff have some flexibility in the execution of the plan.
The city currently manages the parks and pavilions and it is expected and use of Palmer Commons for retail and services would be conducted in the same way in regards to scheduling, space size, etc. Safety measures mirroring those implemented for the Farmers Market – one-way foot traffic, masks, limited occupancy, and such – would also be in place.
Mayor Melissa Johnson told the council, “We have this beautiful space, how can we best utilize it to serve some of our businesses that might be in need? That’s really the concept. I think we can work out the details as we go.”
“The fact that we open up a public space for businesses to begin rebuilding their own economic base is so very essential for the viability of our community,” said Councilmember Cheri Albertson. “I think that we should absolutely do this and make sure we do it carefully. We have an excellent administration. I don’t think that we’re putting anything at risk by going forward.”
The council unanimously approved the motion to use Palmer Commons as a flexible space for retail and services. Details to come.