The Exit 9 corridor is thriving, and town officials want to keep it that way by making the area look nicer and injecting more of a downtown feel.
Town Supervisor Phil Barrett wants to keep the town center from returning to the way it was in the late 1990s, before a redone Clifton Park Center mall, new hotels, restaurants and box stores replaced empty stores.
A $50,000 grant is expected to help officials encourage future growth by updating the zoning law for the town center.
“It’s really about sustainability,” he said. “We’ve had a positive snowball effect, and now the area is dynamic and successful again.”
The federal grant is administered by the Capital District Transportation Committee and includes a $20,000 town match that will be mostly met with in-kind services, Barrett said.
The town will hire professional consultants who will look at the existing zoning and make recommendations by next spring.
Last year, the town started working on a Town Center Plan, which is still under way after several meetings on the subject. Another public hearing on it is slated for June 4.
The zoning ordinance update is separate. Barrett wants to see it encourage diversity of uses in the town center.
“Having too much of one thing long-term may not be a recipe for sustained success.”
One area that could be added to the zoning law is mixed-use zoning for the town center, Barrett said, including housing and offices and retail in one building or complex.
Adding housing to the mix will allow more people to walk to shopping and other services in the town center, including the YMCA and library.
“That is something that’s been very successful in other areas,” Barrett said. “That is a component that is currently missing in the Exit 9 area.”
With mixed-use zoning, “then you have all these land uses playing off each other,” Barrett said — people who live in the neighborhoods walk to the restaurants, schools, library and stores on a trail system built for them, keeping the businesses vital.
Making the town center prettier also will be a goal.
“I think there’s more that we can do to enhance the area aesthetically,” he said.
Planning for modes of transportation and encouraging commercial development that will bring good-paying jobs is part of the equation too.