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Coastal Engineering Company of Orleans Cape Cod
April 23, 2018

Smart Growth: Planning Ahead for Mashpee Commons

Planning a high-density mixed-use village such as Mashpee Commons offers many opportunities and many challenges. John Bologna, PE explains engineering considerations in this Cape & Plymouth Business article.

Mashpee Commons Cover

Mashpee Commons owns approximately 175 to 200 acres of contiguous land surrounding the shopping district. Roads and utilities are in place. The original idea behind Mashpee Commons when it opened in 1978 was to build a "walkable mixed-use village with retail shops, restaurants, businesses, and homes," and according to Arnold “Buff” Chace, Mashpee Commons’ managing general partner, "That goal still holds".

Given the trend toward shopping at Amazon rather than at brick and mortar stores, combined with the need for year-round housing on the Cape, the idea now is to use this land not for more retail space, but to create a neighborhood with a variety of homes – townhouses, lofts, apartments, cottages – at a variety of prices, along with other community amenities. The project is hoped to produce 40 to 60 units a year for the next 10 years, however, finalizing that vision, codifying the rules, and obtaining the capital and the partners needed to make it happen is sure to be a major challenge.

Toward that end, Mashpee Commons, with the help of Principle, an urban design and development company based in Boston, conducted visioning exercises with community stakeholders last fall. ­The goal was to discover what Mashpee residents were interested in. Since then, the developers have been hosting weekly “Tuesday Talks” to cover various aspects of residential development, and once again, to hear from the community. In May, a “charrette” is planned to resolve any conflicts and come up with solutions people agree on.

Please read this Cape & Plymouth Business article for the full story, including a first-person account of the scope of the proposed residential development and associated planning initiatives, references local success stories, and John Bologna's "engineering considerations checklist" for designing high-density villages on Cape Cod. If interested, please also visit Mashpee Commons By Design Facebook page for the schedule of their Master Plan Week coming up May 3-9 - a series of family-friendly events, topic-specific meetings, and open design studios designed to engage stakeholders, the general public, and Mashpee officials for input into design and architectural plans for the Commons.