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As we look for ways to bring vitality and new business back into our City, Newton Patch has begun running a column called Visions for Vacancies.  This solicits input and ideas from readers about selected empty storefronts throughout the city, asking what they would like to see.

So far, the column has asked for ideas on Kaplan Test Prep (Newton Centre), Newton Highlands Bank of America, West Newton Sweet Center, All About Shoe (Newtonville), Marshall’s Plaza (Needham St), and now 341 Washington St (former Dry Cleaners).

The “I Wish This Was” campaign attempts to do something similar by soliciting input from passersby to see what kinds of retail or cultural uses they would support. We have not tried this in Newton, but the idea has been broached.

Each case provides a means for collecting input on what people say they want to see in our vacant storefronts. This is a useful first step that complements the City’s conversations with the business community, landlords, and other interested parties.  Of course, we also need to couple this with a realistic assessment of what the market (and our residents) can support.

And – as has been noted here elsewhere – we probably need to think beyond retail in some cases.

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