Once a teeming hub of businesses, Norwich Street was once part of Dixie Highway. It offered a variety of businesses from about 1920 until 1960. A streetcar once ran up and down it.
Today, Norwich is among the most derelict commercial streets in Brunswick. Ten percent of the corridor is undeveloped, and nearly half the buildings are empty. Several buildings have collapsed roofs, and the area has earned a reputation for crime—deserved or not.
In efforts to revitalize Norwich street, the City of Brunswick engaged the Washington, D.C.-based Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which works with communities across the nation on urban rehabilitation. CNU spent several days studying Norwich Street, engaging with stakeholders, and seeking public opinions to discover what developments people would like to see and how the city can make it easier for businesses to take advantage of the space.
CNU’s report lays out Norwich Street’s opportunities and challenges, and makes suggestions for improvements. Of the 75,000 square feet of available empty building space, Norwich could probably support 10,000–15,000 square feet of commercial development. The rest could become affordable housing, nonprofit space, or offices for small business.
To share these ideas, CNU and city officials created a “model block” between I and J streets.