Black Rock poised for $500,000 face lift
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Jan 30, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- Black Rock.
For people seeking good food, good drink and interesting shops, those two words have started to mean something.
Now, the city is hoping a $500,000 grant will help make the trendy seaside neighborhood's business hub along Fairfield Avenue more attractive for residents and visitors.
"My vision is we look kind of like a `SoNo'," said state Rep. Auden Grogins, referring to the branding of historic South Norwalk, which draws tourists with nightlife. "We can give a great face lift to Black Rock with this."
Grogins, who secured the $500,000 grant from the state, co-hosted a forum Wednesday night to begin hearing how people who live and work in Black Rock think the money should be spent.
The grant can be spent improving the streetscape, from nicer building facades to lighting, sidewalks and signs.
"This corridor is a very important corridor to the city," said Mayor Bill Finch, who, with his economic development chief David Kooris, was also on hand.
Black Rock's business district lies on the border with Fairfield and just blocks away from Interstate 95, the new Fairfield Metro train station, and two large movie theaters. As such, for some it is their first impression of Bridgeport.
It's an eclectic mix of businesses: well-reviewed restaurants and ethnic eateries, quaint ice cream and coffee shops, boutiques, biker bars and -- to the constant chagrin of residents and police -- the illegally run massage parlor from time to time.
Black Rock is also a fairly wealthy section of the city. As such, the neighborhood is often ineligible for financial aid, Finch noted, which is why the city needs to make the right choices with the state's $500,000.
And, the mayor said, hopefully the improvements will encourage private owners to make further investments in their properties.
Several of those present suggested sidewalk improvements that will aid pedestrian safety.
"I take my life into my hands going in some of those stores," said one woman.
"You want to be able to have dinner, walk across the street to a bar," Kooris said.
Tara Collins, owner of Black Rock Physical Therapy and head of the business association, said some of the money should be spent on signs or other physical markers that clearly identify the neighborhood, especially from the train station.
"We need to get people to notice the fact that Black Rock is there," Collins said.
There also needs to be better lit parking -- and more of it, she said, adding that a neighborhood restaurant week is being planned.
Another audience member suggested a more consistent look that upgrades some of the "junky storefronts."
Inevitably, the conversation turned to some major question marks hanging over Black Rock's future, including a proposal to build a pedestrian bridge over Ash Creek to the new Fairfield train station and the vacant Black Rock Arts Center.
Kooris said the city will schedule a public meeting in February to discuss the feasibility of the bridge proposal.
Niall O'Neill, owner of the arts building, said he hopes to have a tenant by summer.
"Right now, I'm in talks with a lot of different investors," he said. "I've refused a lot of businesses I didn't think were suitable."
O'Neill also owns The Field restaurant and bar in Black Rock.
Some in the audience wanted to know if he was planning to open a restaurant, bar or club in the arts center.
"All I want is a successful business," O'Neill said.
Since: Aug 10
#2 Jan 30, 2014
Bridgeport does not have the money.
#3 Feb 1, 2014
I think it is because Black Rock pay the most taxes and bring in most revenune for the city The city going keeping on raising in black rock because of lost reveune. Black Rock is more Fairfield though it less than 1-2 mins away
#4 Feb 1, 2014
$500,000. followed y a $50,000,000. tax hike....Work for a living? Pay taxes?...Pay,Pay,Pay,Pay..Ille gals and welfare queeens need your mney...Have to support their drug dealin baby daddy's...
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