Middletown Return to the Riverbend Master Plan
Middletown, CT is a small but important city of 46,000 people within
the Hartford metropolitan area. Sometimes eclipsed by its more
well-known attractions, like Wesleyan University and the Wadsworth
Mansion, Middletown sits on the banks of the Connecticut River and
boasts a remarkable landscape along the riverfront, with panoramic
views of the bend in the Connecticut River. Despite this natural
advantage, the riverfront is largely underutilized, and for decades,
the City and Middletown community have been working to revitalize
the waterfront. Several recent initiatives and investments, including
decommissioning a water treatment plan and City acquisition of a
former manufacturing site, have generated significant momentum
towards the goal.
To capitalize on this momentum, the City of Middletown hired a
consulting team led by Cooper Robertson to develop a master plan,
aptly named “Return to the Riverbend,” in order to develop a physical
vision for realizing the potential of Middletown’s riverfront. The vision
put the community’s interests at the center of the process, and aligned
their thoughts and ideas with expert analysis of the area’s physical,
economic and regulatory issues.
As a sub-consultant to Cooper Robertson, Karp Strategies led the
economic development and stakeholder engagement work streams.
Engagement spanned focus groups and interviews, a semi-permanent
gallery space, and community workshops, ultimately collecting over
1,200 comments to inform the master plan. Economic development
work concentrated on: real estate market analysis of the commercial,
industrial, and residential sectors; recommendations towards which
development finance tools should be used to catalyze action; and
a gap analysis of economic needs against workforce development
opportunities to be filled by future anchor tenants.
The resulting master plan, to be published in July 2022, will guide
immediate land use regulation changes in order to enable future
development projects envisioned in the plan.