NEW BEDFORD - Downtown stakeholders joined developers Wednesday evening for a walkabout along Purchase Street and Wing's Court.

The exercise was part of gathering input on how to improve the Purchase-Union Innovation District, a project under MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI).

Jim McKeag, TDI fellow at MassDevelopment, explained that the improvements to be made along Purchase St. and other streets downtown won't be large undertakings, but more of building on existing frameworks that make the downtown unique.

"The exercises that we're trying to focus on are ones that really add to the district by building off of the authenticity that's already here in New Bedford," McKeag said.

McKeag said there's also an economic factor when looking at development of the downtown.

"Always try to think about making sure there's opportunities for the existing businesses, that they can become more sustainable and more robust over time, but also creating more opportunities for new entrepreneurs to start new businesses," McKeag said.

Some recommendations to come out during the stroll included better lighting of store fronts, opening up windows of shops and restaurants and giving wing's court more of a public park feel.

McKeag said all of the ideas stemming from the Purchase St. project can be implemented along any street across the city.

Improvements would ideally be done while the Union St. project, funded by the state's MassWorks grant, is under way.

If you have any suggestions you'd like to make about improvements to downtown, leave your comments at

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