AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Town of Amherst have announced the hiring of a Philadelphia consulting firm to draft a joint plan for the town and the university to work in partnership on key issues such as housing and economic development.
U3 Advisors of Philadelphia in partnership with Corneil Collaborative and The Cecil Group was chosen from a group of five consultants for the job. They are to assist the Town-Gown steering committee, created in October 2013, to oversee development of a plan to address issues affecting the campus and the community.
UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and Amherst Town Manager John Musante accepted the committee’s recommendation to hire U3 Advisors. The value of the contract is $60,000.
Subbaswamy said, “I am quite pleased with the hiring of U3 Advisors. They bring the expertise and experience required to help us develop a shared strategy around housing and economic development opportunities. This further demonstrates the commitment of the university and the town to work together as community partners.”
Musante noted, “This represents an historic town and university collaboration and partnership to develop a housing and economic development plan that will help us reach our full potential as a thriving college town. We must and will seize this opportunity.”
The steering committee, working with the consultants, will review areas where the town and university master plans coincide, where they may be in conflict and where opportunities may have been missed. They will also look at best practices in other college communities around the country.
U3 Advisors says one focus will be on housing. The firm will look at siting and development tools for students, market rate and affordable housing units that are in line with current demand, as well as the needs and aspirations of the university and the town.
A second focus will be on identifying interactions between the university and town regarding jobs, business creation and new retail and amenities that benefit both the town and the campus. Of particular interest are opportunities to leverage university research and commercialization capacity to start new businesses in strategic locations by bringing new technologies or discoveries to market.
It is crucial, U3 Advisors say, that the housing and economic development analyses complement one another and be funded and implemented. The firm expects to conduct and finish its work in about four months.
Additional information about the work of the Town Gown Steering Committee and the proposal from U3 Advisors is available online at www.umass.edu/town-gown.