Does Purchase Street seem brighter? How New Bedford is making downtown more inviting

·2 min read

NEW BEDFORD — Purchase Street just got brighter.

"We consider downtown to be the heart of the city, the economic center," said Anne Louro, assistant city planner. "It's also an arts and cultural center ... we want to make downtown a vibrant place for visitors."

Last week, the department unveiled new lights in an attempt to make Purchase Street brighter from The Zeiterion to William Street.

Since receiving the TDI grants for the downtown area in 2017, Louro said this new addition is another piece of their multi-faceted planning process for the downtown area to make the area feel safer and more inviting to guests.

"It connects to the Zeiterion in a more visual way," Louro said, adding that she hopes it will help bring more foot traffic to the area for local business, too.

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Kyle Vasquez installs lights on arches lining Purchase Street in downtown New Bedford. These lights will become a permanent addition to the downtown area.
Kyle Vasquez installs lights on arches lining Purchase Street in downtown New Bedford. These lights will become a permanent addition to the downtown area.

"We are all about supporting small businesses because I don't think people realize the amount of people employed by very small businesses — these mom and pop businesses have thousands and thousands of employees," she said.

Recently, Wings Court also received new lights as well as more outlets for people to utilize for events.

New lights have been installed in front of the Zeiterion Theatre as part of the TDI grants through the Planning Office.
New lights have been installed in front of the Zeiterion Theatre as part of the TDI grants through the Planning Office.

Louro, who has been working with the city since 2006, said they've identified parts of the downtown area in which they continue to work to visually draw people in.

How the new lighting was achieved

Meanwhile, Louro applauded the Department of Public Infrastructure for all their hard work to make these projects happen. "They are the unsung heroes of the city. I don't think most folks realize how much they do," she said.

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After a failed attempt to light Purchase Street with string lights, the DPI staff worked to instead install 5-inch bulbs to achieve the look Louro wanted for the street.

"It was a little bit of mathematics and physics involved there," she said with a laugh. "Our DPI staff are the ones that installed it and they did a fantastic job figuring it out. So kudos to them."

Lights were added to Purchase Street through the use of TDI grants.
Lights were added to Purchase Street through the use of TDI grants.

What's next for downtown New Bedford?

Louro also said although nothing is planned specifically yet, the new light poles gives them the opportunity to do an enhanced "holiday lighting setup" in the future.

Their next project is further illuminating Union Street so it will visually interest people who are down near the waterfront or the state pier to walk over and explore.

With the upcoming rehabilitation of the Zeiterion, which will include a new marquee, Louro said Purchase Street will hopefully be at its brightest by next year.

"I'm just so excited, they came out so great," Louro added. "It's another great enhancement for downtown New Bedford."

Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at schitwood@s-t.com. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: New Bedford adds new lights on Purchase Street and outside Zeiterion